Something happened – it doesn’t matter what: that is another story – that was completely unexpected and warped one’s usual conception of what is possible and how things are. Since I was alone it did not seem amazing, or even greatly remarkable to me. If someone had been with me we should have talked about how amazing it was and it would have seemed amazing. But when one is alone, nothing is amazing. Everything just is what it is. There is no shared consciousness, no group-world-perception, to measure it against.
That, at least, is my experience. Do others feel the same? I am thinking that if one were more “enculturated” into a surrounding social perception of reality, one might be amazed by something even alone. I am thinking that if I were in the Motherland, sharing every day in a social and agreed reality, I might be amazed at anything that seemed to run counter to it. But living in a world in which I am completely alien and having no “people” to call my own or to share any common reality with, nothing seems out of the ordinary, because there is no ordinary to be out of.
I am not actually talking here about “social norms”. I could be talking about the laws of physics, for example. If the front door were to say “hello” to me one morning, would I be amazed? If I were alone? No, I am sure I wouldn’t. A world where front doors don’t behave that way is part of one’s shared reality. Take away that group-consciousness and why is anything more surprising than anything else?
Of course the destruction of what one could reasonably accept as social norms is undoubtedly a part of this. One sees people speak and act in ways that, in the Motherlands would be just beyond any possible pale and would be instant social death. Nothing, however grotesque, shocks me about outlanders. It may make me sick (quite literally), but one has long since realized that these are people with no civilized norms left to violate.
One’s inured state is, in one sense, a different thing from feeling no amazement at apparent violations of the laws of physics but it is not really so. To be amazed is an emotional and social state. It is not really a rational reaction. If we see natural laws suspended, we may find it interesting, we may ask why it has happened and indeed whether it has really happened. But the emotion of amazement has nothing to do with our rational assessment: it is a reaction to the violation of a socially defined and agreed reality.
A maid without a society is therefore without the capacity for amazement.
In my case, if I am with someone, and therefore, ipso facto, sharing in a common reality perception/definition, I could be amazed by something. If I am alone I will only be amazed if I have internalized a social reality to the extent that it governs my reactions even outside an immediately present social setting. And in a world as alien as this, and having been cut off from all family on a daily basis, what could I possibly have in the way of an internalized social reality?