Monday, January 28, 2008
Elberry startles yet again. Commenting on my Private Passions post, he says of my radio performance, 'Was trying to put my finger on how you sound... surprisingly undefended & not trying to hold to a rigid structure (eg 'This is who Appleyard is - be awed!'), as if you locate your strength not in crystalline abstraction but in allowing everything a say, however errant or awkward.' This startles because it is more or less what I had been saying about myself in a discussion with somebody about the holding of opinions - though Elberry was being nice, I was engaged in bitter self-criticism. My problem is I hold opinions without actually holding them in a state of 'crystalline abstraction' or in any other way. I try opinions out, though, to be honest, I'm not quite sure what an opinion is. If I take a view of something based on the balance of evidence, that would not seem to be an opinion, merely a choice forced upon me. If I form an opinion without any evidence, then it becomes no more than a subjective inclination. One could say this becomes less subjective because the view is taken in the light of one's experience of life - so that an inclination becomes more of an opinion the wiser the holder of the view is and, perhaps, the better his track record. But this doesn't seem implicit in the use of a word. We don't call the view of a stupid fifteen-year-old something different from the opinion of a wise sixty-year-old. I suppose 'opinion' is just a way of pretending there is more solidity to the people we meet than there actually is. Certainly a large number of people I know seems to define themselves through opinions and to judge others by theirs. I am incapable of doing this, which is, I'm afraid, a very disabling condition. I console myself that it is the times that are at fault, not me. Sorry to be so introspective, but Elberry did startle.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 8:12 am