Who likes being categorized, unless the category flatters them in a way that agrees with their soul’s sense of who and what they are?
Woody Allen famously said* (in the great Annie Hall), “I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member”. I see that statement (do they get any more ironic than that?) as a twisted corollary to Category Error Discomfort (let’s call it CED), which is what we sometimes feel under labels others give us, even when the label isn’t wrong.
My earliest CED came in First Grade, when I was put in the slow reading group, because I couldn’t stand reading out loud. After that I lived with the syndrome — thanks to no achievments at all (or worse, the opposite) in academics, sports and dating — until I was a senior in high school. That was when I put on my suit and tie, walked down the street to the dorm of the prettiest girl in the neighboring college, and successfully asked her out. (It didn’t go anywhere, but it didn’t matter. I was now qualified — among other things — as a breeder, which I began to prove only four years later.)
As Dr. Weinberger writes, Everything Is Miscellaneous. I don’t know if he treats the exceptionality in every human’s nature as something equally so (I don’t have his book around here to check against, though I should), but I believe Everybody is Miscellaneous as well. (A phrase that so far comes up with zero on Google… surprising.) Except for that, we wouldn’t have CED.
Anyway, as “social media” (a too-inclusive kinda non-miscellaneous label) probuzzerates, and a zillion groups aggregate (clot?) all over the place, we are faced not just with too many “friends”, but too many choices of virtual clubhouses and too many labels laid by others on who and what we are, might be, and ought to belong to. Kinda brings out the CED in all of us.
I’m not sure where I’m going with this, except toward exceptionality: that which in each of us is unlike anyone else. And that isn’t just ego. It goes deeper than that, to who and what we are — to our soul.
What we call integrity is more than just consistency, or what geologists call competence when they talk about sturdy rock. It’s an anchor in our own souls.
I don’t know how to make that relevant in the social storm currently raging over Web X.x. Perhaps it isn’t. Perhaps it’s in territory so personal that only Whitman can make sense of it.
So I guess we just keep walking on our clay feet, just because it’s the only way to get around.
* As Dr. Weinberger points out below, Woody was actually quoting Groucho Marx.
Comments are now closed.