Thursday, 6 September 2012

The Oblique approach or Looking at the World through the wrong end of a telescope

This image has been used before in a blog.  It was meant then to demonstrate how agile I was at the age of 29.  This time it seems appropriate as an illustration of the way I appear to view the world.

Never one to accept anything visual or verbal at its face value, I have always sought and sometimes found. other explanations than those which were more easily acceptable.

As a child, my father often described me as "the only man in the regiment in step".  A rather weird concept, but one I fully understand.

Sometimes in these politically correct days, meanings become clothed in layers of obfuscation as people struggle to offend no-one.  Blunt, plain-speaking is seldom appreciated at its true value and the vast bulk of the population slowly drowns in a sea of platitudes as what is being said disappears in the mist.

Even when very young I found that what was said was often not at all what was meant, and I found that listening to the tone rather than the words, looking closely into the eyes of the speaker, rather than the mouth was quite a good way of divining meanings.

Later this became a distinct disadvantage, as the inability to accept anything at face value turned to cynicism, and I found myself seeking meanings which simply were not there.  This in turn produced a very strange way of responding to comments, since I always replied to what I felt rather than what I heard.

If someone wrote to me (remember letters?), I would invariably read between the lines and even now, when reading a blog for instance, it is always difficult for me to comment on what is written.  Much easier to remark on what I think was intended.

In recent times (the past 30 years or so), I have heard this described as lateral thinking.  Whether in fact, any thinking at all is involved, or whether it is simply a 'bloody-minded' determination to misunderstand, I really am not sure, but it makes life interesting, if difficult at times.

Not so  much "the only man in the regiment in step" as someone in a different regiment entirely.


  1. Or, as I've heard it described, marching to the sound of a different drum, Ray. I grant you that this degree of scepticism can sometimes make things difficult, but rather that than a gullibility that takes absolutely everything at face value.

  2. Yes it does have its advantages, but taken to extreme (which in my case it sometimes is), doesn't earn many brownie points.

  3. Perpetua I was described by my school friends as one who walked to the beat of my own drum :-)I chose to take this as a good thing as one who was strong enough to not follow the herd.
    Anyhow I really just wanted to share that I am at the moment battling with my girls (11 & 7 and a half - that half being very important!)about not showing in their face & body language exactly what they are thinking and feeling.
    They still do not fully understand how this undermines their valiant attempts at manners when they really don't want to do something.
    I live in hope of a break through soon.

  4. Good luck with that Shona.
    I have mixed feelings about the 'being diplomatic' thing.
    Yes, everyone needs to treat others with at least a modicum of courtesy, but a constant repressing/supressing of one's true feelings can have disastrous results later in life.
    From the little I know of your girls, I would expect them to do you proud.

  5. Thank you Ray.

    Aris brought home the guide for going away on the school camping trip which is looming in 2 weeks. The section on manners in the food hall made me smile. "If you do not like what you are given to eat, eat it graciously without fuss and pulling faces"

    If it has to be put in the guide then clearly other people serve up live poisonous snake for their children too!!

    I don't wish for repression or suppression, just a little filtering would be good at times :-)