Gnomicon 240

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Introduction to Gnomica.

Gnomicon  240
Monday 7 January 2013
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If we judged everybody by the stupid, unguarded things they blurt out
to their nearest and dearest, then we wouldn’t ever get anywhere.
Boris Johnson (19 Jun 1964 –  )

This current (since 4 May 2008) mayor of London studied Classics at venerable Balliol College in Oxford (1983-1987), is the author of several books, something of a wag, generally popular, and immediately recognizable by his tousled and very blond hair. Check out this one (“There’s just something about Boris”) about BoJo.

I don’t pretend to know much about this Oxonian as a politician or much about his politics over there, but I like what he said.  It’s just common sense, for heaven’s sake! (Of course, it could prompt one to take a wobbly walk down a perilous path about nebulous ‘speech codes’ and other such fuzzy Orwellian-isms of our modern ‘sensitive’ age, but not this time!)

Immediately you think of those embarrassing things public figures sometimes say after they think the mike for that national interview has been turned off but it hasn’t – only to find themselves doing another dozen carefully ‘handled’ interviews backtracking and twisting in the wind trying to undo the damage let loose over the networks and their feeds … and so forth.

And it applies not just to those embarrassing public moments when you wish the ground in front of your feet would just split apart and lower a ladder for you to climb down while you escaped.  Probably most of us have had a few moments like that from time to time, and those moments are as durable in the memories of others as a digital file saved in the cloud.  Only time will blunt its effect.

Two questions:

1)   did we really mean what we said — that is, are these unfiltered verbal eruptions off the cuff true indices to what we are thinking, what we believe about the situation(s) or person(s) in question?

2)   especially in public life where, given the inevitable hostilities from some sides, the damage may well be more contagious and leveraged by the internet, should we just train ourselves to say nothing that has not been scripted, vetted and approved either by ourselves or our handlers?

Personally I would find an affirmative answer to the second point deadening.  In effect, you’d have make some kind of compact with yourself to run everything by your (or your handlers’) preprocessing filters before opening your mouth, and I don’t think that would do much for your projection of an easy spontaneity in your dealings with people.  You might get away with it in public – if you always, even in the heat of the moment, remembered to abide by your ‘compact’ – since your opponent could then crank up your profile as wooden.  But is that how we want to be, always deliberate and guarded, around our (in Boris’ words) “nearest and dearest”?

It doesn’t sound to me as though it would make for much fun around the house.

As for the first point:  well, yes, sometimes you do mean those things that suddenly come out, and, yes, sometimes they are indeed stupid, but … just as you sometimes are unfair to yourself and harsh on yourself, there are times when you are harsh on and unfair to those “nearest and dearest”, too.  Doesn’t mean you don’t care about them, don’t love them, don’t wish you hadn’t said what you just did.

Taking that kind of stuff too seriously and with some kind of unforgiving resentment in the case of your closest would, I believe, result in our not ‘ever getting anywhere’ either with ourselves or with the others.  Sometimes you just have to cut yourself some slack, and sometimes you have to cut others some slack when they are the ones who let fly.

Who promised any of us an eternal idyll in a blandly non-confrontational rose garden?

Come on!

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