Michael Ronall again writes with such lovely humour. Very much worth reading.
The New Yorker article linked above leads me to suspect that the occupationally high-functioning and socially limited-functioning idealists among us have trained themselves to treat [the expressions of] those who frustrate them as though those others were marshmallows, that is, only as phenomena that cause sensations in those who encounter them, rather than also as subjects in their own right—what Kant condemned as treating others only as means and not also as ends-in-themselves, colloquially formulated as the sins of using people and loving things instead of vice-versa.
I’m thinking of those who, as soon as they realize that they’re not going to acquire, immediately and entirely on their own convenient terms, what [they believe] they’re looking for from another individual—however lofty the ideals by which they may justify their quest4—reflexively treat that other as a suitable object on which to apply “a simple set of mental tricks—such as pretending that the candy is only a picture, surrounded by an imaginary frame”; “cover[ing] their eyes with their hands or turn[ing] around so that they can’t see the tray.” How often, in long-term associations with those who share our ideals, do we fail to resolve disputes, deny their persistence, avoid fresh encounters? How frankly and receptively do we meet the gaze of those who have offended our imagined entitlements? How vigorously do we pursue the idea within the reality of neighbors whose frictive influence actually holds information for our own healing?
Read more. Ronall will speak on the equally humourously entitled topic ‘Clairvoyance Through Annoyance: The redemptive homeopathy of everyday troubles’ at a conference soon.