Tell me again, what we were arguing about?

With the remedial light of day it is strangely unmanageable to recall the focus of last evening’s disagreement – as heated and intuitive as it was at the time. Indeed so sparse are the intricacies of the erstwhile disharmony that I am equally embarrassed by the scope of the row as by my failure to recollect either its particulars or its condition precedent.

Although I have no doubt that both parties advanced their personal entitlement to their respective dissimiltude, it amounted to little more than a war of words, an ignoble “I said, you said” battle. Yet as full-throated as it was, the less than dignified wrangle soon descended to mere misunderstanding.

The thing about in-house debate is there is never a winner and for that reason alone it is a fruitless enterprise. But this is not to say there is no nutrition to the matter. The foremost beneficial conclusion is that argument should be avoided.  Argument characterizes what is often only personal internal conflict as social grievance which is in turn misdirected at whatever target or landing site is nearby. As complicated as is the individual it is quickly apparent that no other person is likely author either directly or indirectly of the nascent complication within oneself. This paramountly speaks to the utter inutility of argument except as a questionable device by which to vomit one’s currently indigestible thoughts and sentiments.

The occasion for discord is normally governed by chance; that is, seldom is the altercation 2-sided from the outset.  It more resembles walking on a land mine than a congressional debate. How often does one party abruptly sit back and say, “Where did that come from?”

Therein lies much of the value of the explosion. Where indeed is the source of one’s manifest disruption? Whence cometh the stinging and rampant discredits? What are the bases of these deeply unsettling insinuations within oneself? There can be little question that the vociferous demeanour is a reaction to something. Occasionally the other party who suffers the consequence of these percolating miseries is able to withstand the assault sufficiently to resist the abuse and instead seek to examine the source of conflict.  That however is an unusual and infrequent result of unpredicted warfare between two people.  Accordingly it falls to the person who started the business to fix it.

Sometimes it is merely the development of the combative event which succeeds to mollify the underlying personal mischief. Yet there persists the ambition to clarify the root of the infection. The initial discovery may be nothing more inventive than that “the universe is ultimately personal” which I find cooly isolates each of us in a unique and unattached experience. It’s a bit like the philosophic issue regarding the source of knowledge; viz., internal (René Descartes “Cogito ergo sum“) or empirical (David Hume). For those of us not hopelessly confused as Ludwig Wittgenstein apparently was by whether “a mouse has come into being by spontaneous generation out of grey rags and dust”, the more compelling absorption may be to recall the nature of recent circumstances which are likely to have generated whatever internal conflict pertains.

“If I am inclined to suppose that a mouse has come into being by spontaneous generation out of grey rags and dust, I shall do well to examine those rags very closely to see how a mouse may have hidden in them, how it may have got there and so on. But if I am convinced that a mouse cannot come into being from these things, then this investigation will perhaps be superfluous. But first we must learn to understand what it is that opposes such an examination of details in philosophy.”

In the result we are seldom much closer to a distillation of what it is that disturbs one’s mental tranquillity. I like to recapitulate in the broadest possible terms, highlighting whatever signal events I can recall, summarizing as best I can, before finally concluding that we all have our issues, that no one is spared the occasional dilemma, and thank whatever powers that be that we are still here to talk about it. It helps too to recollect that no one is perfect – perhaps not least of all even ourselves!