In the spirit of needed neologisticy,
we offer two new phrases:
“myopic familiarity” and
“More” requires using the DOOR.
An old chestnut is that “If you haven’t experienced something, you can’t understand it.” A reality, however, is that some possible understandings aren’t worth the cost.
A person in a stand-off with a rapidly approaching train can never report on the impact of his experience–or anything else down the road.
Years ago I happened to be standing around the corner from a couple of students talking in a hallway of a university where I taught. The subject was personal intimate performance (as I’ll call it) that was expected by friends for their beginning heterosexual relationships on campus.
“I’ve gone through all that again, again, and again all year, and I’m quitting,” said one. “It’s just not worth the hassle”¹.
The second person seemed to agree. I never faced them, or said anything. But I never forgot it.
And to talk about such things, even in print, isn’t easy–as sad as such a discovery can be.
Let me stop now and label and neologize twice².
myopic familiarity – (n) repeatedly focusing on principles, people, behaviors, or group attitudes at the expense of excluding or ignoring the cautions of conflicting principles, behaviors, or expectations.
ecstatic particularity – (n) a self-chosen repeated focusing on a particular principle, a person, behavior, or expectation that excludes or ignores possible alternatives, and brings satisfaction but no harm.
Both approaches can bring knowledge and erase naivety. But one can’t have it both ways. Let me return to what I said about “personal intimacy,” which is one of the most beautiful things there is. A famous singer once said, “Why buy a cow when you can get milk and cream through the fence?” Living free range sounds enchanting, and plenty of attractive people are around to help you navigate and ignore pitfalls. But there’s another side to that. Other experts around recommend that the better way to navigate is to properly walk through a narrow gate, one that leads to grass that’s even greener and circled by a strong and well-defended fence.
¹ Not quite the exact words, but pretty close as I remember them.
² Neologize? “Familiarity” and “particularity” aren’t–yet–dictionary words. Further, these behaviors can apply to attitudes toward religions, disciplines, and the problem of reconciling science and Christianity as well as personal intimacy issues.
Happy Birthday, Ethan!