Pigeonholing people


The blogosphere is the great leveller, where everyone’s opinion on everything is of equal value and your opinion on physics is just as valid as that physicist’s over there, though you’re a second year arts student and he has two dozen published works in scientific journals and holds a chair at a major university.

As one who doesn’t buy the PCist levelling and even less the lack of respect today for a person’s knowledge in a field, it still has to be acknowledged that out of the mouths of babes can spring wisdom – the student can surpass the master, the amateur can outflank the professional.

But not all the time, on all things.     Shania Twain’s song is worth dissecting for why she doesn’t accept that guy’s authority:

Now, for a start, her opinion of what impresses her or not impresses me not. I couldn’t give a toss what she thinks – but why would that be so?   Why does she impress me not at all?   And as for that quoted study saying she had the perfect face – purr-lease!

Why won’t I accept her claim?    Let’s look at some of the lyrics:

I’ve known a few guys who thought they were pretty smart
But you’ve got “being right” down to an art
You think you’re a genius; you drive me up the wall

So you got the brain but have you got the touch
Don’t get me wrong, yeah I think you’re alright
But that won’t keep me warm in the middle of the night

So, because the guy does his homework instead of talking out of his backside, it drives her up the wall.    She has issues, this person.    But maybe he has too.    Maybe he’s trying to be something he’s not, maybe a Walter Mitty.    Maybe he should wake up that she needs a bit of cuddling instead of yet more lecturing.

There’s this constant conflict between how others see a person and how that person sees him or herself – I’d suggest both are a bit unfair and it involves both uncharitable perceptions and self-delusion.

At that Tory conference I went to, when I was about to wade into a speaker at question time, my companion suggested we “might be punching above our weight”.    To me, this is like speaking of A listers and Z listers.   Pigeonholes.

And yet there might be something to what he said, taken broadly.    Behind the annoyance which Andie MacDowell and Gwynneth Whatsername create is that very gap between self-perception and what others are willing to accept.     The former goes on in interviews about how she was a model, worshipped by men and she’s quite pugnacious about that.    The latter offers society advice and society simply doesn’t buy it … at least not from her.

Or from Jamie Oliver.

Steven Segal, the blackbelt whom no one credits with being a real action hero – just what does the guy have to do?

In a section of my book Masque, there’s a character named Adam who can’t stand the main character, Hugh Jensen.

“I’m afraid I find your irresistible charm eminently resistible, Hugh.”

This is squarely a case of a man who is a fairly goodlooking cove [Adam] and the one he’s speaking to is not, by any criteria, eligible to act the womanizer and yet women seem to not dislike him.    This drives Adam up the wall because he has this Hugh pigeonholed as one of the losers of this world, with big opinions of himself.   By the way, by all accepted criteria, Adam is not wrong in this.

To me, the question is why this Adam even has this issue with Jensen in the first place?   What’s it to him?

There is an answer to this, of course.   It’s that feeling when something is out of synch, there’s some disturbance or ruffling in the fabric of space and time.   That parachutee over there should not even be in the job.   Ulrika Johnson should never have won that Big Brother show.   There are travesties and everyone knows there are.   Even the EU is a travesty.

And yours truly, the academic, trying to be the great boatbuilder.   Uh-huh, I’ll believe it when I see it.    My stepfather was the godfather of the extended family, head of a major publishing and printing house, also makers of watercolours.    In my eyes, he had nothing to prove.

Yet he would often go on about how he was the chief executive and it was only later I found that as the youngest of three brothers, he was always in awe of his older brothers.   The rest seems to follow.    Methinks we should cut people some slack if they have actually attempted and pulled off something but not if they haven’t and the only reason they’re in a position to lecture to us is because the PTB have parachuted them in.

This is an inconclusive post because it’s an inconclusive issue.


No Shop or Traintalk today because nothing much happened yesterday.    Lovely weather, wasn’t it?    We were flooded by hail until we got the front door closed.    Nothing much happened yesterday?


2 responses to “Pigeonholing people

  1. Did you have thunder to go with the hail? We did here and when I heard the first rumble it sounded like a bomb going off!!