Rightness of wrongness Wrongness of rightness


Timothy Bateson 1926 – 2009                               As an older actor, he gave a most affecting Mr Dick in the 1974 BBC serialization of David Copperfield. As a young man, he won a scholarship to Wadham, Oxford.

I love being wrong. It means another thing’s about to reveal itself, better to be understood.

It was shocking to realize some years ago that mine is neither a popular perspective nor, if actually grasped, one to secure empathic acknowledgement. Indeed, someone to whom the idea of my ambivalence towards being right struck him as proof of imbecility withdrew from the professional friendship lest tainted by the association.

What does it mean to be wrong? To lack true knowledge, to misunderstand the facts, to see the world differently from the majority? To know there’s more to discover?

Perhaps better to ask what does it mean to be right?

Rightness appears to hold to itself a moral, intellectual authority ~ a necessary and sufficient condition to silence opposing views. It is right until the fashion, framework or facts change. It infers we know that of which we speak.

Shutting down dialogue seems far worse than being mistaken. And is it just me or does your heart also shake a bit when someone dismisses your concern in virtue of the economic sense it may or mayn’t make?

Mr Dick was never mean, false or cruel and Betsy Trotwood valued his clarity though the world found him a simpleton. Weaponizing being right doesn’t place Right on your side: it merely makes brittle that which ought to have movement and flexibility.

Answers oughtn’t close down deeper questions. Greater expectation may be captured in continuing to wonder?

[You knew, ‘ course, the Viking word for responsibility is ansvar]

💥 David Copperfield was written and published through May 1849 to November 1850. Great Expectations was first published in serial form in Dickens’ weekly periodical All the Year Round, from December 1860 to August 1861.

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