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Doggerel you say? Incoherent mutterings. Nothing much to pay attention to. Foolish person – there is all of life – the whole deep meaning of it – in the fart of a flea. You just have to learn how to listen!
There is no freedom like being able to say what you truly mean – not what others want you appear to mean – nor what you might say in the throes of an adolescent tantrum – but to clearly say in a measured fashion exactly what you mean. Here’s the rabbit hole – down we go.
Alice: If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?
My experience has been that very few people actually get to enjoy that freedom. It used to upset me a lot more than it does now. I have come to realize that most of humanity will live their life without uttering more than a handful of personally meaningful statements. That this is a tragedy – particularly given our increasing lifespan – might be widely agreed on – even with objections to my choice of the word ‘few’. But I have lately spent time thinking about the why of it all. So far, I have considered a few what I call syndromes.
Alice: I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, Sir, because I’m not myself you see.
I am what I’m told to be: There are actually two versions of this one. The first – and probably the one you thought of – turns on the relationship between a child and parents. There are children who never break out of that dynamic. Their lives are extensions of what their parents wanted them to be – how their parents insisted that they be. The result is an unthinking acceptance of ‘who I am’. The self-image tends to be relatively static. People in their late 60s behave like adolescents because that is all they ever learned how to do. I call this one daddy’s meaning.
The Hatter: Why is a raven like a writing desk?
A second version of this syndrome turns around the evolving question of identify in a highly fluid social context. Examples are easy to find – particularly in the political realm.
Alice: But then, shall I never get any older than I am now? That’ll be a comfort, one way — never to be an old woman — but then — always to have lessons to learn!
Pollsters have taken to calling these people ‘information light’ voters. Followers of one or another talking head get their ‘talking points’ every day and spend the rest of that day parroting. I call this ‘borrowed meaning’.
Alice: If it had grown up, it would have made a dreadfully ugly child; but it makes rather a handsome pig, I think.
The spoiled child syndrome: “If you don’t let me win, I’m going to take my ball and go home.” Heard that – or a close variation – recently? I did – and the child was in his 60s. This seems to be a reaction out of pure frustration with a reality which refuses to conform to the person’s expectations. Always lurking just below the surface and ready to break out, the spoiled child ends up saying things for effect – not because they are meaningful within the context. I call this one a ‘child’s meaning’.
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