It’s weird living somewhere you would happily vacation. This is what Mrs. Wigglebottom and I got to look at on our walk–the mist rising from the hills. This picture is taken through a break made by a drunk driver, so that part gives me pause, but still, nice view.

I was so stiff on our walk that my legs were just aching by the time we got up to Lloyd. Since I walk that way most days, it was just evidence to me of how much I carry stress in my body, let it literally curl me up so much that straightening my legs to walk is painful until everything gets warmed up. But by the time I was up on Lloyd, looking at shit this beautiful, I felt better.

I got some good writing done yesterday about how there’s this undercurrent of unease the veterans feel with the younger guys who believe that the War was about… not quite states’ rights… these aren’t a group of young men who need an excuse yet to stop feeling negatively toward the Yankees, though that was already happening. They’re more on the men’s rights side–that a man has a natural place in an ordered universe and the War was about order vs. chaos, with chaos being the temporary victor. Their national project, as it were, then, is to be the next generation of men committed to order, to take up where the veterans have left off. See how that works? Just like in the states’ rights argument, slavery just slips right out of the conversation.

But the veterans both side with Forrest, in that they agree these are different times and so different relations between the races are called for, and they know they lost something when they lost the War. And they experience the young men’s retelling of the War as a commitment to Godly order as the young men being embarrassed by slavery, embarrassed that this is what their fathers and uncles risked their lives for.

I think this is an important component to the fight between Jere Baxter and Jacob Dickinson. It’s not just that Dickinson is a gross racist. It’s that he will not be told he should be ashamed of slavery and he will not be dictated to by some youngster who doesn’t even know how it was how it should be. Not that Jere is that much younger or telling him he should be ashamed of slavery.

But this isn’t a world Lee can happily come back to. Even the people who think he’s a hero think he’s a hero for the wrong reasons, at least in his mind.

But the other thing I’m trying to get at is how hard it can be for people to see other people as whole, contradictory, difficult, human beings. And how easy it is for people to construct an idea of a person, attach motivations to that idea, and become more attached to that idea than to the actual person.

I wonder how many of us live in a fantasy world without even realizing it–where we don’t see the actual people in front of us, but instead just project our fantasy of who they are onto them.

I sometimes wonder if “understanding” is a barrier to seeing people as they truly are. I know I like to sit around and solve all of the world’s problems by analyzing every little thing people do in order to understand all their secret motivations, especially if it seems like their secret motivations cast me in an awesome light.

But maybe that’s not always helpful. Maybe instead of illuminating, it’s just fantasizing.

I don’t know.


5 thoughts on “Mist

  1. I read something that really affected me (although, ha! I can’t remember where I read it) about how we tell ourselves stories about other people. Lie say, I meet you and I tell myself a story about who you are and what’s you’re like. And then the more we interact the more the truth of you (as you reveal it to me) begins to overwrite the story I’ve already made up about you. Eventually we become friends and there’s still spaces in my story to fill in, but over time more of the truth of us is reveal to each other.

    I find I have some friends/acquaintances that I’m really not that close too, nor to have a desire to be and these people often attribute reasons to my actions that utterly untrue of of me or flat out lies, not meanly, just accidentally because they are going on their story of me and not the truth.

    I’m not sure how well I’ve explained it here, but I definitely think it gets are what you’re saying about understanding people.

  2. On your legs: I literally could not get out of bed or walk downstairs without extreme pain about ten years ago, and finally went to a podiatrist because it was so bad (damn, that really makes you feel old). Anyway, plantaar fasciitis, google it. Got it taken care of, and have not been bothered since.

    Nice post as well.

  3. Oh, that reminds me … there was a review of Gods Without Men in the NY Times book review section over the weekend that talked a lot about the ways writers are using time travel and historical fiction these days. I thought maybe it might interest you.

  4. Peg, I’ve had that before. It’s not this. This is clearly just that I clench my whole body so tight that moving it around in loosening ways is painful.

    NM, I now don’t know whether to be intimidated or delighted that it’s a thing. But that book sounds fantastic.

  5. Crackerjackheart, I had a lot of first-hand experience with this when I was stalked, where my doing or saying random things was an indication that my stalker’s love for me was secretly returned. So, I think what you’re getting at is right. Most people kind of have a false idea of a person that gets replaced by a real idea as they get to know them. But I think that, under certain circumstances, people are quite capable of committing to the false beliefs.

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