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Kobayashi Kiyochika: Pomegranates and Grapes (1879-1881)

" … I sit each morning in an office window overlooking the center of the universe …"

I trade not in the truth, but in truths, for truths come in such variety that only plurals can properly represent them. I pity the absolutists who seek THE truth and nothing but, for they seem to unnecessarily limit the range of satisfactions possible from their enquiry, whatever it might be seeking. The desire to boil anything down into a single essence just seems to spoil the seeking. A proper conclusion tends toward the ambiguous, at least recognizing the influence differing perspectives might bring to something. Very little of what any of us experience amounts to either science or engineering, and most of what I sense might be best classified as tenaciously unsettled; could be this, might be that, or perhaps it's something else. I must, it seems to me, frame my experiences in some way that works for me to achieve satisfaction. Often, I suppose, this work results in what I might agree amounts to Satisfiction, a flavor of fact that's not above employing fiction to produce satisfaction. I make up stories.

I've long held as an ethical responsibility the need to make the most generous possible interpretations when I lack access to better information.
I adopted this ethic after watching myself and others undermine the quality of our own experience by projecting scathing explanatory stories to resolve otherwise unresolvable mysteries. Why is that person grouchy? Without asking then believing their response, any explanation's just a story. I might argue that this situation might not warrant asking a 'why?' question, anyway, because what would answering that question get anyone? The person's still grouchy. They're probably not actually out to get me, regardless of how it might seem. Maybe they're just naturally mean or maybe, just maybe, not even they know why they're so grouchy this morning. An ounce of Occam can help. It's just easier if I inject a squirt of Satisfiction into the situation, a little most generous possible interpretation, condemning no one, letting be. See?

Kurt Our Painter taught me during The Grand Refurbish that good enough is, indeed, good enough. It's not perfection, but then perfection's generally an absolutely unavailable fiction, so good enough fills in. There's also no such thing as level or plumb in a place as old as The Villa, so those, too, hold good-enough equivalents. Seeking absolutes, like seeking The Truth, generally serves no useful purpose other than to undermine the quality of the seeker's experience. When I worked for that insurance company, I'd tell anybody interested that I worked for the best of all possible mutual life insurance companies in the greater Portland metropolitan area, bar none. Of course there was only one mutual life insurance company headquartered in the greater Portland metropolitan area, but you get my point. I inflate the quality of my experience with generous slatherings of Satisfictions.

These stories, too, can hardly be classified as whole truths. At best, I suspect, they might fairly represent MY truths, but just as often, they reflect my little fictions: classified as Historical, Autobiographical, Philosophical Fiction, perhaps the most common classification in literature. What am I doing here? I am engineering my own satisfaction. If my readers find some satisfaction for themselves here, so much the better, but I lack access to whatever might satisfy others. I hold as self-evident that the most personal proves to be the most universal, a most useful fiction which I firmly believe in. I mean, I have alternatives, but why bother when that one Satisfiction covers all cases? I do not just write fictions, I live them. How else could I sit each morning in an office window overlooking the center of the universe, or, at least, the very center of mine? Satisfiction!

©2022 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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