Missed it by a few hours, but better late….
Meditation on “To A Louse, On Seeing One on a Lady’s Bonnet at Church“
He: (watching a documentary on politics) ”O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us!”
She: Burns had it wrong.
He: Which part?
She: Pretty much all of it. That wouldn’t be a gift. It would be a curse.
He: I’m thinking both Bobby Burns and the Louse might disagree.
She (Shrugs): Burns, maybe. But the Louse is free to roam and feed and live its lousy life only so long as its host remains blissfully unaware of its presence. As soon as the “gift” arrives, the jig is up.
She (attempting to nip that bud): If you’re about to mansplain what Burns meant about the potential difference in the poor woman’s attitude if she is humbled before her peers by hosting a common louse, spare me.
He: You can’t deny it would puncture her pretensions, and by extension, everyone else’s under the same circumstances.
She: You’re making my point. What is she pretending, except to be what her society expects from a proper woman of the time? Take that away from her, and what does she have left?
She: Rubbish. Every one of us, and that includes you, build our identities from the ground up, and that perspective would amount to what Tarot calls “a Tower moment,” when everything comes crashing down. No one could survive it with their sense of self intact. That leads to madness…perhaps literally.
He: That old “we become what we pretend to be” saw? Maybe we become what we’re supposed to be.
She: Now you’re excluding free will. Are you claiming our choices are preordained?
He: Maybe, and what’s that got to do with it?
She: Everything. There’s choice involved where building a sense of self. Not always good ones, but that’s the tragedy of free will. Maybe the “proper woman” motif is a bad choice, an unsustainable choice despite society’s expectations. But it’s hers. Does she deserve to lose it just because an observer sees what she does not?
He: Sorry, I just got a flash of the lady in church as a metaphor for Schrodinger’s cat. Alive or dead, proper or ridiculous, all depending on the observer.
She: For once you may not be too far wrong. Now. Do you really want your own fragile—and I say that because we are all fragile—identity and sense of self dependent on the kindness of strangers?
He: From a poet to a playwright. You’re mixing your argumentative metaphors.
She: Say rather I’m expanding my examples. If you always snort the same way when you choke back a laugh, do you really want or need to know that it sounds like a sow in heat?
He: It does?
She: That’s not the point. Assuming there’s nothing you can do about it, would you want to know?
He: I guess not…so, does it?
She: Of course not. It’s just an example.
He: As long as I don’t have to depend on the kindness of strangers.
©2021 Richard Parks