I've kept this blog, on and off, since 2006. In 2015 I used it to chart daily encounters, images, thoughts and feelings about volcanic basalt/bluestone in Melbourne and Victoria, especially in the first part of the year. I plan to write a book provisionally titled Bluestone: An Emotional History, about human uses of and feelings for bluestone. But I am also working on quite a few other projects and a big grant application, especially now I am on research leave. I'm working mostly from home, then, for six months, and will need online sociability for company!

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Why a facial recognition problem is a problem

At Readings for a book launch on Friday (the second that week) I was trying to get close to the action and found myself stuck in a long aisle with no chance of seeing anything. I passed a woman who smiled at me and looked familiar, and assuming she was a graduate student in my school (there are lots and lots) I made a cheery remark about what a terrible place it was for a booklaunch. (And it is, in its logistics, though I love that they are willing to have academic book launches there.) You can't see or hear the action very well, and if you are a customer wanting to browse those sections for an hour, it's impossible.  Anyway I explained all this to the poor girl, then went back around and up another aisle and found some people I knew. During the launch speech, I looked over to the cash register where the wine was being served, and sure enough, there she was, obviously an employee. Well, she may also be a graduate student. But I did feel foolish. But have learned that it only makes it worse to go and apologise for my rudeness: viz. "I'm sorry I was rude about your workplace: I thought you smiled at me and I wrongly assumed I should have known who you were — but didn't." And even worse to start explaining about the whole face-blindness syndrome.

Also, what I want to know is this: how many times is it acceptable to refer to your own work when launching a book by someone else? Not that many, I would have said. I have just been invited to do my first launch speech, in December, so my mind is much occupied by the genre.


Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

(1) Oh dear.

(2) Oh, dear.

Nicole said...

Oh, she probably agrees with you. It is a terrible place for a book launch at the same time as being the most perfect place for a book launch.


ThirdCat said...

I thought you were going to say, 'And then I realised she was the author.' So it could've been worse. (And no, I'm not sure why I thought you would be at a book launch if you didn't know the author).

Elsewhere007 said...

Do you think it's people overload--that you've just known or met so many people through teaching you can't keep track of them?

I feel I have a false positive version of facial prognosia, in that I think I recognise people I know wherever I go, but I think that might be a reflex of having lived in a large country town where you expect to see people you know everywhere.

Stephanie Trigg said...

3C, yes it could well have been worse. This was probably more annoying to me than embarrassing to her (I hope so, anyway).

El, yes it's partly that: a weakness in putting names to faces that is exacerbated by teaching. But I'm also bad at recognising and naming famous faces (especially men). And last night I was looking at photos of friends with another friend, when the context should have helped), and I still managed to confuse two friends with each other.

And — oh dear — I did once fail to recognise my first husband.

Kerryn Goldsworthy said...

I think that second 'Oh dear' may have been a bit cryptic -- it was in reference to the whole 'banging on about one's own work while purporting to launch someone else's book' thingy. Ew.

Stephanie Trigg said...

No, I got it: no worries! From which I deduce your opinion is that it's not really acceptable at all? I've seen a few, recently, where people do it without notes, which I admire. But I wonder if that leaves one more liable to revert to the default position: oneself!