Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Conventional Wisdom

There are conventions, and there is wisdom, but so far as you've been able to see, there is no conventional wisdom that can be agreed upon.   Conventions are agreed-upon or legislated behavior, such as the drivers' seats in American cars being on the left side, you having Friday morning coffee with a particular group at a particular place, and Sunday breakfast somewhere altogether else. 

Convention is using the serial comma in books or not using it in magazines and newspapers.  In American text, the punctuation marks go inside the quotes, but UK conventions call for the commas and other stuff to go outside the quotes.  "Right?"  "Right you are".

Convention suggests a form of accord among a defined group that is often willing to take their accord to extremes, even to the point of investing their accord with some divine inspiration, for example Martin Luther nailing his edict to the door of a church.

In considering this, you are reminded of your concept of story, which now becomes transmogrified to two conventions, each believing there is only one source of divine inspiration, each believing it is the one.

Wisdom is another matter, every bit as idiosyncratic as the previous examples and permutations of conventions.  In your experience, wisdom is often attributed to the elderly, an acquired trait, a product of considerable trial and error, thus by implication the result of looking at and then attacking problems.  Good luck with that.

From early years, we are subject to inspirational propaganda about the virtues of wisdom, where it is to be found, and how to acquire it.  In retrospect, you can see where your parents had ample measures of wisdom.  

You were not always wise enough to see that.  This means wisdom, like conventions, is in constant flux.  What appears to be wisdom at one point may turn out to be something altogether different at other times, different enough to appear unwise, dumb, perhaps even dangerous.

There have been times when you made decisions based on your immediate perception that you were being wise.  In yet other instances, you dithered to the point of considering yourself untrustworthy.  Such considerations do not add to an overall sense of confidence.  This leads to the great existential question:  Is it wise to be confident?  

Back in time, when the Greeks were running all over philosophy the way Bill Gates and Steve Jobs ran over computers and their operating systems. you could have your choice of an operating system based on your inherent trust of things and persons or such other approaches as being standoffish with what the French would call sang froid running through your veins.  Leave it to the French to come forth with a term for cold blood that sounds like a variety of wine.

You have chosen as your default positions being unconventional and lacking in wisdom, thus not wise, which seems to you to relate to making sane, conventional decisions.  Your preference is to make unconventional decisions that in fact warm up the blood, get you to a point where you can barely control your enthusiasm long enough to write it down.

One of those Greek philosophers was, in your opinion, nailing the matter when he, Heraclitus, wrote about the eternal flux of Things, by which you believe him to have meant Reality.  You cannot, he wrote, bathe in the same river twice, much less take the same bath twice, nor can you make the observation about it more than once without becoming repetitive and, even worse, derivative.

At your current stage of relative wisdom, you believe it is not a good plan to copy yourself.  If you once did something well, nice to think about it in retrospect, then try to do something else at a different degree of wellness.

You also believe it a good practice to question anything of apparent conventionality before embracing it.

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