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I like because I like

August 26, 2009

I was playing Chopin’s Nocturne in E-flat major this afternoon, it was with this piece I got a second place in a school music competition a few years ago. This, I am slightly embarassed to say, is listed as one of my “achievements” on my CV, and because it is on my CV, I need to be prepared for the question “why do you like to play the piano?” The answer I thought of is “because it helps me relax” and interviewers will probably be happy with it. However, if you think about it, playing the piano wouldn’t help me relax if I didn’t like it, therefore “liking it” is the cause and “relaxing” is the effect, not the other way round. So why really do I like playing the piano? If you want an honest answer, I would say, there’s no particular reason, I like it therefore I like it. Interviewers probably won’t like the answer, think I am irrational and therefore mark me down (and not mark me up despite being honest), but I would like to think that realising someone can like something without a conscious “reason” is perfectly logical and not something one should be ashamed of.

Siuto said she liked the colour white (let’s just say it’s a colour for now) because it is comfortable. Colour preference is a good example here, for, unlike preference for food, people or films, et cetera, colour is a single physical measurable quality. One person cannot like/dislike a colour because it is big while another person like/dislike it because it is heavy. Assuming we all see the same colours, it is the same quality that makes some like a colour and others dislike it. It is the same visual stimuli that makes some people find white “comfortable” while others find it “bland”. There must therefore be some form of “pre-bias”, which can be interpreted as a liking before reason.

Imagine a 3-year-old boy asking you about one of your favourite films. You will tell him the name of the film and why you like it, it might be because you like the story, the atmosphere and/or the characters etc. For our everyday conversation, those are good enough reasons, but because you are talking to a 3-year-old boy, he will ask you why you like the story, atmosphere and/or characters etc. You might tell him that you like the clever plot twist, the building up of tension before the climax and/or the logical character development, and so the conversation is likely to continue until you come to something you “just like” (or that you get impatient with the boy and decided to distract him with an ice-cream). I believe that almost everything a person likes/dislikes can be boiled down to one or more preferences which have no explanation that the person should be aware of. As a person interested and to a certain degree (wehay!) educated in the field of science / engineering, do I not believe there are reasons behind everything? Indeed I do, what I mean is that there is no reason of which we are consciously aware for things like colour preferences, but that does not mean these preferences are inexplicable. A recent BBC article discussed why in general girls like pink and it was suggested that back in the Stone Age, women who were keen on spotting fruits (ripe) or faces (fever or certain emotions) with a reddish hue had an evolutionary advantage. As far as the pink-loving girl is concern, she doesn’t like it because it helped her ancesters survive, but this reason is hard-wired to her brain. By a similar argument, children do not know that they like sweets (OK, candies) because they taste like ripe fruit, but that is the scientific reason. This is treading into the topic of evolutionary psychology, which is more of Siuto’s territory. Back to a ground with which I am more familiar, another source of liking without conscious reason is the meleability of our minds. It involves the state we are in when we first and subsequently encountered the subject. Research has shown that when a person is holding a hot drink, he or she is more likely to find a stranger a “warm person”. (I am also never tired of telling people about Derren Brown’s method of making someone like a gift he has bought!) Our brains are easily affected by what is around us, I might like purple because a person I used to like used to wear purple, or the day I first saw purple was a happy day for me, I don’t know, I don’t remember, maybe I never knew myself!

I originally wanted to write this piece in celebration of the fourth year of being with Siuto, but then I have been slow as I always am. I sometimes hear people asking others why they like their “significant other”s, I have asked somebody the question before, too. I can perhaps list a dozen of likeable things about Siuto (and so can I for any of the other five great great friends I have here), but then none of them is the reason I like her. I like her just because I do and I think realising that I can like her without a reason is a good thing. For me, it is probably one of the keys to maintaining our relationship, because we all have our days when we are in a bad mood, or when we are feeling particularly selfish; we all change so as to adapt to what life throws at us, our cheesecake-like smooth faces will all one day bear closer resemblence to mooncakes. If we can all learn to like the people most important to us without any reasons attached, nothing will make us like them any less.

The lyrics of this following song completely defies my argument and I completely disagree with it (in fact, I think it should be “點解你咁鬼靓, 因為我鐘意你”), but it is a fun little song and is probably what you need after bearing with my long and clumsy sentences and paragraphs and words and letters and punctuations, that sort of thing, you know.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Soyin permalink*
    August 27, 2009 11:13 am

    I also think this way – you can like someone/something for no reason.

    Obviously not allowed to say that in interviews though.

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