Facts are a consensual reality. There is no discernment in facts. Facts are something you gather, something you collect. Facts are something you report on. Facts in and of themselves aren’t terribly important.
Facts are no more than those things – measurements, statistics and what not – we all agree to agree upon.
It goes without saying that facts can be manipulated. Figures lie and liars figure. So don’t think that there aren’t those of us who remain highly skeptical whenever anyone trots out the facts and presumes to talk about them as if they comprised a greater part of an objective reality.
But the truth is the very idea of an objective reality is highly illusive. When you get right down to it objectivity is an idealistic construct. Even pure science in the end is mostly an abstraction as the physics of the big things cannot yet – if ever – be reconciled to the physics of the small things.
So if science fails, why shouldn’t the rest of our marginally participatory, minimally overlapping realities be anything but laughable?
It is truly startling to come to the conclusion that we are all very (very) different people and that even our seemingly shared realities are in fact very different.
And I think when one realizes the vast chasm that exists between us as people the world gets so much more wonderfully complex. I like looking at someone now with these new eyes, wondering who is that guy? What does he do? What is he like? Just what is going on in that head of his?
This trend of inquiry begins to make more sense after watching little children. At some point you realize the magic and mystery that makes up the fabric of their tiny worlds is light years from your own.
I like talking to strangers now. Yes I do. Not so much talking but more like asking questions. I’ve been taking to asking certain people I meet along the way if they are happy. I am not that all out blunt but just like yesterday I asked a driver if he was satisfied with his life in Las Vegas. It turns out he was. 23 years in Vegas and he was very happy there. He liked his job. He had a nice family and he was happy. We had a very great conversation over the course of the ride to the airport.We actually managed to share a nice experience. When he dropped me off, we shook hands and parted as friends.
Most people I’ve found respond positively to honest and open inquiries into the substance of their lives. You have to time your questions and have a truly profound interest in the answer. And not posit the question like you’re asking only to deliver judgement. A morbid curiosity is also a deal killer. People aren’t a fishbowl and they know a science project when they hear it.
Hearing people’s stories can be fascinatingly revealing. Ask the right questions in the right way and people can be surprisingly candid.
“Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures.” R.W. Emerson once said. And the truth can be found lurking in most every story.
I quickly beg off when the subject strays into addictive territories and the tone begins to sound delusional. Subjects like carnality no longer interest me. The conclusions are too predictable.
PS – William Gibson (from Zero History) offers up a glimpse into self awareness with a humorous feint of an answer in response to a fishing expedition launched as a seemingly naive question:
‘Alberto says you’re like a producer. You agree?’ He studied her from behind the forelock. ‘In some very vague, overgeneralized way? Sort of.’