Saturday, December 22, 2007

café thoughts

Isn’t it true that most people view themselves as being quite independent, carving their own path, listening to some internal voice rather than conforming to the (petty) demands of others?

It seems that the time you most like to do your own thing is when what is expected is too annoying, too displeasing, uncomfortable, grating.

If you place two individuals in the same room and both view themselves as being extraordinarily independent, what happens? Maybe you’ll have formed your perfect partnership -- something like the movie version of Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett, or, digging deeper, maybe Virginia and Leonard Woolf?

Off the screen and out of the manuscript, all I see is conflict. Individualism presupposes a certain degree of stubbornness, no? And if no one bends, then, unless you’re both on the same planet with your individualism (and it can happen, but how likely is that?), you’re going to be running past each other all the time.

Anyway, this season makes me think that individualism is way overrated.

Typically I write the post to fit the photo. Today, they’re independent of each other. I guess.

006 copy
(at the café: brother and sister; he's killing targets on his Apple; she's dreaming)


  1. Individualism presupposes stubbornness? Is stubbornness, then, a trait of an "individual?" I think the opposite might be more accurate. Truly rare is the person who gets along, even with those he or she doesn't agree with. I sat through a class once where the prof. said someone who really wants to solve something, says "yes, and ..." instead of "no, but ..." Perhaps losing a little piece of individualism is a way to gain a larger piece of happiness. What value is reward if not shared? What "individual" does not eventually, if reluctantly, realize that the wages of success do not cover the cost of loneliness.
    Yours was a thoughtful comment, so I am just thinking out loud. . .
    Cheers for the season. God Jul, og Godt Nyttaar. It has been a pleasure reading your commentary and looking at your pictures.

  2. george: so nice to read your thoughts on this...
    I know a person, a very close to me person, who absolutely does not recognize the concept of loneliness. In fact, he sees higher value in being alone than in most (perhaps not all, but most) other things he can do with his time. I wrote the post thinking of (more accurately: troubling over) what may lead a person to so fiercely protect one's own (his own) space and habits.

    I completely agree, btw, with the "yes and" approach. In childrearing it is invaluable. Kids, adults too, want so badly to be understood and an out and out denial shuts off that possibility. To say "I know why you're upset" or "I understand why you so desparately want this" melts ice in communication. But empathy is a tough cookie: most people think they're quite capable of empathy. In fact, most are not. They don't even try.


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