Be it locally or in blogland, the issue of faulty assumptions is at the forefront of my thinking this morning, as it has been for most of the night. Whether those assumptions are made by me or about me, by others or about others, when they are faulty, they can have huge consequences on people’s lives. I know that from personal experience, both as the victim and as the perp of attacks on other people’s motives or assertions. In some cases I was right, in others I was wrong.
The problem is always the same: we base our assumptions on past experiences, good and bad. It’s not the greatest system but it’s the only one we’ve got. That’s how we figure out the world we live in, the other people in it and our relationship to it all. It’s the way we do science, art, politics, love – and even housework, in most instances. We assume something to be true (or false) and then we test – or fail to test – depending on our personality and our motives. Some are more driven to question the ‘evidence’ – at least, in some areas if not in others. I, for one, will never stand accused of overzealousness in housekeeping where I rely on a) the assumption it can wait another day and b) the threat of impending visitors to tidy up my living quarters. However, when it comes to checking sources of news stories or etymologies; or comparing translations of this or that poet; or finding the word that fits in this spot in the story; or discovering why so-and-so wants me to think ill or well of someone else, I rarely give up before finding a reasonably logical explanation.
At the local level, the issue is very much a political one – it’s the usual invitation to gang up on the person presently designated as the group’s scapegoat; it being irrelevant that this same person was a hero last week (and, quite possibly, will be the hero again in a month). I’ve made some major doozies over the years by accepting to play that game or by letting my emotions cloud my judgment. I’m definitely not claiming a holier-than-anybody status on this one, either in blogland or elsewhere. I’m simply not interested in playing those games. Most of the time, they’re based on unproven assumptions or consensus for the sake of convenience. We’ve all done it: a good friend thinks highly of so-and-so but pulls a face at the mention of such-and-such. The good friend is more important to us than either so-and-so or such-and-such, so we go along and start repeating how so-and-so is great and such-and-such is a stinker. First thing you know, such-and-such is walking under a cloud of suspicion, developing an ailment or otherwise going through a hard time and everybody is saying: we knew he/she didn’t have it in them/was a phony/wasn’t one of ‘us’ – or whatever other justification is suitable to the circumstances. For all we know, our good friend had an insignificant personal issue with such-and-such; out of that, a whole town decides such-and-such seventh generation descendant is an untrustworthy stinker. Crazy, isn’t it? You bet and we do it over and over again.
You can prove or disprove anything on paper. You can also destroy people’s reputations or attack their will to live – all of it based on a one hundred percent certainty that you had gotten the facts straight, or at least, that your good friend couldn’t possibly have been wrong about such-and-such and his phony status (the issue at the local level is about someone’s right to claim residency in this country, after fifteen years of paying his taxes and being an asset to the community.)
More local stuff today: interviewing the local Circus people. But I’m also hoping to get back into my revision of Ridgewood.Film maker Bertrand Lenclos is offering to make the coffee tomorrow at his place for the interview about his film.
Photo: Place Jean-Moulin at about six pm. The light is a blessing these days.
17:35 Re-acquainting myself with the story and the characters. Three days away from a revision is a long time. Things are going to continue to be fast-paced locally so I’m going to have to keep a close watch on the time-eaters – by which I mean stuff that doesn’t really need to get done, or at least, not by me. I definitely don’t consider time spent with the circus crowd in that category – it’s the kind of environment that feeds me. Grabbed this photo as I was leaving. How can you not feel better with that kind of light coming in at you?
best to everyone.