Rebecca Saxe: How we read each other's minds

"You fight your superficiality, your shallowness, so as to try to come at people
without unreal expectations, without an overload of bias or hope or arrogance,
as untanklike as you can be, sans cannon and machine guns and steel plating
half a foot thick; you come at them unmenacingly on your own ten toes instead
of tearing up the turf with your caterpillar treads, take them on with an open
mind, as equals, man to man, as we used to say, and yet you never fail to get
them wrong. You might as well have the brain of a tank. You get them wrong
before you meet them, while you're anticipating meeting them; you get them
wrong while you're with them; and then you go home to tell somebody else about
the meeting and you get them all wrong again. Since the same generally goes
for them with you, the whole thing is really a dazzling illusion empty of all
perception, an astonishing farce of misperception. And yet what are we to do
about this terribly significant business of other people, which gets bled of the
significance we think it has and takes on instead a significance that is ludicrous,
so ill equipped are we all to envision one another's interior workings and invisible aims?
Is everyone to go off and lock the door and sit secluded like the lonely writers do,
in a soundproof cell, summoning people out of words and then proposing that these
word people are closer to the real thing than the real people that we mangle with our
ignorance every day? The fact remains that getting people right in not what living
is all about anyway. It's getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong
and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong
again. That's how we know we're alive: we're wrong.
Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people
and just go along for the ride. But if you can do that, well, lucky you."

--Philip Roth, American Pastoral.

Vía: TED