Friday, August 28, 2009

Sincerity and Insincerity

Pride is the most crippling of all defects of character. My Dad, suffered false pride. He was ever on the alert for insincerity in others, for instance when a salesman would get familiar with him, the hari on the back of his neck would go up and the transaction would not happen. My father would not pursue jobs or relationships that he pre-determined woudl result in his rejection. Disabling false pride, myDad had an 8th grade education, but he read and wrote beautifully. Someone along the line someone pointed out to me that the so-called illiterate of which my Dad was not one--but, the same lesson proves to be true--are often so much more intellectually adept than the literate because of the need to read so many other social and environmental clues. Maybe this was at the spring of his insecurity? I remember defending a lawyer years ago who was sued by a client the lawyer truly ill-served, nonetheless, my lawyer client caused no harm--as I was deposing the plaintiff/former client something occurred to me that had not occurred to any of this man's lawyers. The plaintiff/client couldn't read. When this became apparent, the malpractice claim fell apart since the claimed the lawyer didn't communicate with him about "fatal dates" but as it turns out the client wasn't able to read the letters the lawyer did send to him. What insight clued me into this problem--I can't say after all these years. An intuition, like my father developed or thought he had developed.

If I've developed any good trait as a lawyer it is that I empathize with my clients and witnesses particularly unsophisticated clients--the real, the sincere, the dear ones. On the other hand my pride has me reject out of hand so many people in this profession who I perceive to be insincere--in this respect I overreact to my detriment. As a matter of sheer Karma I am inheriting the wind--my hostility to the insincere world--is paying me back. I built little goodwill in the world as a matter of course by my fuck-you-attitude no matter how sincere and no matter how appropriate the response. That quality of mercy that by rights belongs in all my dealings my pride only permits me to dole out to those like myself or more accurately I perceive to be like me. Thus I've gone through life preemptively rejecting relationships that might have proved rewarding or better yet nurturing while clinging to relationships that were--in the psychobabble of our day--dysfunctional.

College was awesome! Law school disgusting. College offered an endless buffet of dishes to sample with plenty for everyone. Law school by contrast was a badly catered funeral at which long festering family feuds erupt and the funeral home directors keep taking away the chairs.

Law school is presided over by Professor Bag-O-Wind, romantically embodied by John Houseman in the Paper Chase--who is attended to by worshipful students who lap up or pretend to lap up every syllable of wisdom. These geniuses of the law, like Professor Bag-O-Wind frequently turn out to be wonderful and brilliant and utterly meaningless--they impact the law by glacial influence on jurisprudence and by their rare involvement with outside legal matters. My negative reaction during my law school was to the sycophancy of classmates--which I took to be a symptom of a wider competition over everything. Having no lawyer relatives, no lawyer friends, no lawyer acquaintances, law school was for me at least immersion in a piranha tank. This tendency on the part of law students to compete over everything including which seat you sat in repulsed me--I reacted with barely contained and self-defeating rage. At an early stage in my law education we were all assigned a research project with opposite sides of the same issue. In those days computer research was barely on the horizon--we did it the old fashioned way as Houseman might say--we read law books. Some pantload razored-out the one aggregate article summarizing the relevant case law fucking over his classmates. Really it was endless.

The insincerity of professors and classmates readily became for me the insincereity of judges and lawyers--continually reaffirmed by the pomposity and hypocrisy of Judges and lawyers in my day to day experience. I viewed the world as a hostile sea, and my approach to law was to serve as a bulwark on behalf of clients against being swept overboard, oh, so many drowned thinking I could save them--now, me. But what I'm fumbling with is trying to change the way I look at universe--find in myself something beyond a cynical laugh at the human comedy. Let's allow by way of DISCLAIMER: that contrary to anything I might say here, I really don't know what the fuck I'm talking about and more importantly, even my running assumptions are wrong. Can we continue?

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