|The man who never notices that while|
he and his wife have brown hair,
his son's hair is red.
Morgan and Luke added a new wrinkle with something they term distress agnosia in which people are unable to respond to data that is too distressing to think about. The man who never notices that while he and his wife have bron hair, his son's hair is red; the folks who never stop to wonder why the neighbor kid gets a new puppy every week; the residents of Buchenwald who never speculate where all those trains are heading or why they suddenly have to spend so much time wiping oily soot off the windows and dining table.
Who knows what horrible instances of distress agnosia we ourselves may have been prey to? By definition, we would be incapable of knowing because we would be incapable of thinking about it. To have seen, perhaps, Satan Incarnate roaring like a lion in the subway, devouring screaming passengers right and left in his slavering maw, but our attention wandering to the more interesting-seeming advertisements for community colleges pasted along the walls.
To distress agnosia I would like to add distress hypergnosia: the inability to stop thinking about things that distress us. Also, dysgnosia, the irresistible impulse to think about the wrong things -- recalling for example an especially hilarious joke during a close friend's funeral, or suddenly recognizing an anagram of your own initials in the license plate of the careening log-truck bearing down on you.
It all gets pretty tangled. Maybe I should think about something else.