Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Thinks different.

Awhile ago I had someone point out that my URL: http://jillthinksdifferent.blogspot.com/ was grammatically incorrect.
I was informed it should have been entered as "jill thinks differently."

(My cat Hart's toes on one foot.)

Grammatically speaking, it would have been a correct phrase had the word "different" been replaced with the word "differently."
Now I do not profess to be a grammarian as anyone with even a passing interest in the subject will notice if they read my blog regularly.
I let word fly freely, and they don't always fall in grammatically perfect order.

But...actually I did mean "different" and not differently.

You see, I am a reference librarian.
I am not a cataloguing librarian (although I can and have done cataloguing in the past; I even catalogued an art collection using a modified Getty classification system, a fact that only a fellow librarian could fully appreciate.)
Reference librarians DO think "different."

The other day at "ref desk" (as we casually refer to the space where we librarian sit and play "stump the chump" with anyone who feels like pitching us a question) my fellow librarian Virginia noted that she always notices what is different about each item that she encounters. The other librarian, Margaret, had worked as a cataloguing librarian, and said that she generally notices what is similar when confronted with a collection of items.

It was a "BINGO!" moment for all three of us.

(Hart's other foot. Cute toes, different from his other toes!)
I always initially analyzed thing by how they are unique.
Later I may try to find ways to say how a thing is similar to other things.
But it is a uniqueness that interests me most.

Hand me a bowl full of tangerines, and I can probably find a way to create individual identities for each piece of fruit.
Ditto people, place and things; ideas and experiences; sounds, views, and textures.
And cat paws. I love it when cats have different colored toes.
It makes them more special, and show how they are unique.
(Thanks to Adan for showing his toes and sparking this post!)

About now you are probably saying to yourself:

"But Jill, what has all this have to do with MILLINERY? Focus, woman. We want to know more about millinery!"

Well, what it has to do with millinery is this:
People who think like cataloguers look at hats and say things like:

"Oh, it's green...it's a Robin Hood hat!"


"It is a stewardess hat"
(just because it is a rectangle shape sitting low on the forehead without a brim.)


"It would be perfect to wear to a funeral!"

(Just because it has a black veil? Never mind that it is sparkling with sequins and rhinestones, and the hat has a jaunty feather bobbing over one ear, and is actually a cocktail hat...)

People love to relate hats to movies:
"Gone with the Wind!"
(any wide brim hat with a flower)
"Cigarette girl!"
(any small round brimless hat)
"Annie Hall!"
(Fedora...as seen by one age group)
"Katherine Hepburn!"
(Fedora...as seen by another age group)
"Waltzing Matilda!"
(One side of brim turned up)
(A fez)

Those kinds of comment used to bug me a tad.
(I love how this hat stumps people until they finally decide it is a saloon girl hat. Like they have been in so many saloons!)

Now I really do appreciate people with cataloguer minds. They make my life easier in many ways. For instance, I appreciate that when I go to the grocery store, each aisle has been neatly catalogued for my convenience.

I don't have to hunt all over the store for apple juice, grape juice and pineapple juice.
They have all been catalogued as "Juice" and sit close together in one area.

But it is my "think different" mind that helps me make my selection.

I notice a clear sweet golden yellow juice is "apple juice"
The dark opaque brown juice is "prune juice"
The cloudy yellow tart juice is "grapefruit juice"

Each juice is indeed "different."
And to me, the differences are critical when I make my selections.
A gulp of grapefruit juice as simply "juice" when actually I was wanting "apple juice" is a very unsettling experience!

A good cataloguer knows how to catalogue so you can find each kind of the juice by it's description.
But first they have to notice what is the biggest "same" about anything.
Liquid: Consumable: Fruit: Clear: Sweet
(That would do it for apple juice)

As a reference librarian I spend a lot of time working with people who think "same" in order to determine specifics, or "different" to provide them with what they really need.
Sticking with the juice example, it goes sort of like this:
Someones comes up to me and says the equivalent of
"I need a liquid."

I have to ask:
"What do you want to do with the liquid? Drink it, wash with it...?"

They say:
"I want to drink it."

I say:
"Do you want water or a flavor?"

They say:
"I want a flavor"

I say:
"Sweet, sour, bitter, salty?"

They say:

I say:
"Sour like lemon, or sour like grapefruit"

You get the drift here I am sure.

A cataloguer mind (at it's lowest level) goes to an art gallery and comes out of the art gallery and thinks: "I saw a lot of pictures."
If you take them to another art gallery they will think "I saw more pictures."
If pressed, the cataloguer might state: "I saw pictures of flowers in one, and pictures of boats in the other."

(I don't like going to art galleries with those kinds of people.)

I guess it takes some effort in order to see the difference between two painting.
It takes a bit of concentration to observe, for example, that one painting is of daffodils in sunshine, while another is of sunflowers in the shadows.
It does take a bit of thinking to go beyond an acknowledgement of a canvas, paint and frame creates more than just a "Picture"
And to see that every painting of sunflowers really isn't "just like" van Gogh's sunflowers."

I'm here to say that each hat, (or cat for that matter) is a unique creation.
Each hand made hat is different, and enjoyable in and of itself, even if it does have elements that are similar to other iconic hats.
Do yourself a favor: Look at a hat to see how it is different.
Then try doing that with everything you encounter in your day.
I think you will find it enjoyable.
Well, I think that is enough for today. I want to thank Laura for taking such great pictures of Hart's toes, and thank Hart for providing visual interest to this post.

Bonus material:

If you managed to look at these two pictures and pushed past "top hat" and "riding hat" to really look and enjoy before you scrolled down, I think you are "thinking different" now too!


Marie Christopher said...

Very well said - as usual. You are my hero (or should I say heroine)! And, that little saloon girl hat is great (as are all of the others)!

Kathy said...

Ah - fun post. The pink hat at the end is may favorite. Love that ribbon flower. I think different also!

Anonymous said...

Cool post, Jill! You've been all over the board in a manner of speaking, but you pulled everything back together. Fruit, cat toes, hats, grammar, flowers, and saloons. Wow. These things are all different, but at least two of them are very similar in a way.

Lovella ♥ said...

Oh and awesome job of writing this post. Quite entertaining.
I did wonder in my little self centered mind. . .what is different about me?
I'm glad you think different .. I'm sure I think a bit different too but differently from you ..

L&D said...

Hmmmmm. This post makes me think.

Also, I think different. We should start our own club. I also think I have a different sense of humor.

PhantomMinuet said...

I can honestly say that I never would have thought "top hat". Derby hat, yes. Top hat, no. :-)

Plus, it's pink. I would have noticed the color, before I would have noticed the shape of the hat.

Sara at Come Away With Me said...

Wow, I have never ever thought about this different versus same sort of instant analyzing before. Very interesting. All the way through I was trying to figure out if I see things as different first or as the same...I'm not used to analyzing how I analyze! I'm still not sure.

Re the last hat, first I noticed what a gorgeous color combination it is (I love pink and green), second I noticed what beautiful flowers and ribbons are decorating it and how great it looks with that wide band of green around it, then I noticed its shape and the little curl in the brim. Then I decided it's too tall and wouldn't look good with my face, but still I love it! I never gave a thought to what style of hat it might be....