in my opinion

I’ve got mail. In the mail I’ve got, several people are asking me about two things: one, why I didn’t ‘blog the giant squid story that broke recently, and two, why I have been mysteriously silent about “The Fellowship of the Ring”.

For a few days, I didn’t know why. These are two bits of breaking news in my world, and surely if it’s important to me I’d mention it here. Or somewhere. Anywhere. But I haven’t, and I’ve been thinking about why I haven’t, and here goes my theory.

I am extremely protective of my opinions. This is not equivalent to “I get defensive about things I like” although that is related. No, this is something deeper, something less tangible than defending my opinion against contrary ones. It’s almost like I don’t believe my opinions are viable on their own, and that I have to provide some reasoning behind them.

For years, people have asked me, “Why do you like squid so much?” Honestly, I still have no answer for that. For myriad reasons I have admired these creatures, especially the elusive, gigantic ones, without knowing exactly why. That doesn’t bother me as much as it does some people. After all, these same people understand without much trouble why I like cats: look at a cat, and see in it what we as a culture have decided on is likeable. But squid? You can’t even hug a squid. Which has why “hug squid!” has become an anthem for me, of sorts. “Hug cats!” is easy; go up and hug a cat, and maybe one of them won’t glare at you but instead purr and curl up and be happy. But hugging a squid? Figure out how to do it. I’m daring you. It’s almost like I started to like squid because they were so elusive, so undomesticated, so untouchable. You can’t by nature hug the creatures themselves, so you have to figure out a way to hug them elsewhere. In your minds? Perhaps. Picture yourself hugging a squid: are you damp, now? Is it suffocating? Are you underwater?

You have to think about it. I like having to think about things. Forcing myself to think is one of my favorite pastimes.

None of this comes out when I answer the query, “Why do you like squid?” I usually just mumble something about their intriguing system of communication, because that fits me and my linguistic background. Is this all dishonest? Of course it is. Do I really want to deceive people as to my true affection for squid? No. But when people ask, do they really want a dissertation on me appealing to difficult thoughts as opposed to easy ones? No, I don’t believe they do.

And if they do? Then I’m the one missing out.

As for “The Fellowship of the Ring”, I loved it. We saw it at 12:05 a.m. on opening day and then again on Christmas Eve. I’ll see it a few more times before it leaves the theatres. I could go on and on here about this choice and that, casting, artistic, or otherwise, but I won’t. Everyone is entitled to his or her unique opinion – I’m getting back around to this, believe me – but I can’t bring myself to read any more of the “the movie SUCKED!” ones. I can’t even understand the people who didn’t like the book. I mean, I accept that they’re out there, but I actually read one opinion from someone who said that she realized Tolkein [sic] was the grandfather of fantasy stories but so much of what he did has been improved upon by contemporary writers. Now, I’ve read quite a bit of the fantasy genre, and I believe there is some good contemporary stuff (e.g. George R.R. Martin). Certainly artisans can refine a craft, but how could any replace the inventor?

O, and look. I can’t even keep my own opinion out of it. It’s all struck a nerve, see: every last account I’ve read claiming, “It was so boring!” or even, “It made a mockery of the book!” It’s not that it’s a differing opinion; it’s that I am trying to understand that opinion and I am hopelessly biased against doing so.

Somewhere along the line I grew up believing that it was my duty to understand everyone, to see all sides of every situation, and to respect and acknowledge all opinions. I can’t reconcile this, and here lies the cognitive dissonance. I did not understand, as a younger person, that there would be people who considered their opinions more important, more valid than mine, instead of equally important, equally valid.

We don’t need to get into religion here. It must be obvious by now where that would go.

I have no great ending here. Real life doesn’t tie up nicely like journal entries do.

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I acknowledge that I live and work on stolen Cowlitz, Clackamas, Atfalati, and Kalapuya land.
I give respect and reverence to those who came before me.