I was writing last week – rather haphazardly, perhaps because of the topic – about context.
Everything is context. There is very little that is universally understood. Example: look at the header photo… 364 days of the year, seeing a semi-naked man on the bus carrying a sledgehammer, kinda scary. Halloween context – perfect.
Anyway, here is a question for you…
Which side of the bed do you sleep on?
Simple and straightforward enough, right? Well, it depends. It depends on context.
Where are you when you are describing yourself? Do you imagine yourself lying in bed looking out into the world when you say “I sleep on the right”? Or, are you looking at the bed, and imagining walking around the left side of the bed to get in and therefore say “I sleep on the left”?
Where you sleep depends on your context. And what I found recently was that most of us have our own context, our own experience and worldview, and we like to give it to everyone else, such that someone with another context bamboozles us. It is so obvious which side of the bed is which, and yet…
Lori and I sleep on separate sides of the bed, unsurprisingly. Yet, we call them the same side, the right side. She puts herself in one context, me in the other. Bamboozled!
How could this be, that you see it differently to me? I shrieked.
Let’s ask Facebook, it will know.
And know it did. Kinda.
I am going to bring this back to working out loud, of course. By describing your context and sharing it widely, and questioning it, as Jarche wisely suggests, new understanding, new discourse, new opportunities present themselves. Who knew?!
Turns out, by the way, that most people agree with Lori and not me. Same as it ever was.
I uploaded a photo with someone lying on one side of a double bed. “Which side of the bed is the person on?” Facebook answers…
- The woman is on the right side of the bed. Subject position beats onlooker.
- Jonathan Anthony but….would this woman describe the side of the bed she sleeps on at home, by saying “I sleep on the right side of the bed” ??
- You’re having the classic stage right conversation
- I’ve never in my life had to tell someone what side of the bed I slept on. But if I did, I would say I slept on the left side of the bed; like the man in this picture
- yes, “stage right” indicates viewpoint – looking out from stage.
- Is this correct then…”Can you go and get the book on the right side of the bed?” and expect the person to go to the woman’s side of the bed in the photo?
- Right. Imagine they were sitting upright now, same sides, in the front seats of a car.
- Haha, did one of you ask the other to get a book by any chance?
- Jonathan Anthony that’s a good point. No, I’d say on the left side of the bed. the side of the bed where the woman sleeps is the right side because if she’s lying down, she’s on the right side. If you are at the foot of the bed describing the end tables (for example) you would describe the left side. It’s not related to the bed per se, its in relation to the room. This is a bizarre debate.
- Right side
- She is on the right side of the bed because she is right about whatever side of the bed she would like to sleep on.
- Is this all you bicker about!?!
- If you were to look at furniture in the room that is around the bed… let’s say there is a bookcase, and on the left side of the bookcase you have a lamp. The lamp is on the left side of the bookcase (unless you refer to the bookcase from the perspective of the books ) Let’s say there is a night table on the other side of the bookcase and next to the bed. Would you say the lamp is on the left of the bookcase, but the night stand, which is on the right of the bookcase, is on the right side of the bed? So when looking at all the furniture in the room, you refer to the left side as the left side when you are facing it *except* for the bed because you get into the bed and refer to the side from there? So it has a different frame of reference from the rest of the furniture in the room? So the lamp is on the left side of the bookcase, but the side table, which is to the bed what the lamp is to the bookcase, is on the right side of the bed? Or does it only count when you refer to a person who is IN the bed? I would have said she is on the left side.
- The ‘right’ side – obviously !!!
- Right! I wouldn’t share a bed with a retard, whichever of you two that is!
- Right and left are relative terms. So if you are looking at the bed and it is on your left, that makes it the left side. Conversely, to the sleeper the left would be to their left as they sleep… I sleep mostly on my side or in the recovery position so I consider my side to be on the right. Although when I’m lying on my back it would be the left side. All are true because they all make logical sense. Theatre culture demands a rule for stage positioning. Beds do not abide this rule. Both sides are either left or right depending on your perspective.
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