Saturday, February 6, 2021


 Your memory of personal events and of facts has served you as a basic tool kit. Without intending pun, you can't remember when you first became aware of this relationship, nor, until you were well along to senior citizen status did you identify the process you used to make the association. You remember events in your own life. You remember facts you gathered from reading or direct association with living sources. You remember times when you invented sources more often than not for the purpose of establishing your reliability and correctness. This includes inventing facts you hoped to be true in mitigation of the feelings caused by the inner burrow of uncertainty. So yes, you invented facts to help you maintain and contain certainty. When you were much younger than you were now, certainty mattered in different ways than it does now.

You quite liked the authority of having facts and confident assertions. You relished opportunities where you could demonstrate your facts and assertions. Some years--but not too many--later, you realized this preoccupation could make you appear a smartass. In near synchronicity to your awareness of yourself as a smartass, you began to question the accuracy of the facts and opinions of others. Part of the stimulus for this growth came from the childhood experiences related to being born into moderate affluence in Los Angeles, moving through financial necessity to the east, then New England, then southeast Florida. 

Your then awareness of an outer condition presented to you as The Civil War served as a trigger to your broader overview. Smarting from a scathing reminder from a teacher in Florida that Civil War didn't count as a correct answer and, rather, that The War of Northern Aggression did, you were quick to discover that the authors of the text book in which such distinctions appeared listed their associations with universities located in the South.

Not many years later, you understood how you'd graduated from Smartass to Pedant.

Later still, you were enrolled in a state university where male students had reserve officer training corps classes mandated as a requirement for graduation. Your active dislike for ROTC caused you to perform poorly enough that you had to repeat the agony. Nevertheless, the pain and humiliation--"You're kidding, right?  Nobody flunks ROTC."--brought you in contact with one class in which you excelled because you learned not only how to value and read maps but, through a process called triangulation, use locations known to you in order to locate unknown places. Triangulation gave you an opportunity to use what you knew to help approximate what you did not know.

Some years later, when you worked as an editor, you acquired the work of a Canadian author who'd spent time in England, looking, you later learned, for English quirks and traits he could use in characters as a way of conveying his own vision of the English. When you spoke of the matter, he'd hum several bars of a song, "Winchester Cathedral," before he lapsed into his set piece about how the song served to illustrate the inevitability of English quirky behavior.

With that paragraph, you supplied a portion of the triangulation process by which you found yourself in Winchester Cathedral, about to give a lecture on a novel, The Tower, that dealt with the construction of a cathedral such as the one in Winchester.  In addition, you were cautioned, "Mind, you're standing on Jane Austen."  You use techniques of triangulation to describe how you came to be in that place on that particular day, standing on the burial site of a favored author. Yet another aspect of those events would return to haunt you, much as the lyrics of the sone, "Winchester Cathedral," Perhaps a year later, you were in a Santa Barbara Starbucks. When the barista handed you your venti latte, she said, "I so enjoyed your lecture on The Tower."

Not finished yet. You've worked with the individual who cautioned you about stepping on Ms. Austen. He's a prolific author, a major archaeologist. From him and his observations, you were triangulated back to the historical if not prehistorical past, realizing how those worthies used their powers of observation, memory, and prodding questions to navigate the uncertain waters of survival and sustainability. From this same author, you learned via triangulation how the ancients function and, now that you're into it, to look back at a past where you can't asked Siri to do your research for you.

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