To Someone I Have Written

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 9:08 PM

Sometimes I should just speak plainly, but I am too fearful to do so. Such a case happened this week; instead of saying what I wanted to say directly, I did so subtly. It might surprise some of you who see me in polemic mode on my blog, but I am often told I'm too subtle (I can be extremely, extremely subtle at times). Sometimes it does not matter, other times I regret terribly not saying something directly when I had a chance. Like I said, this was the case with someone this week (who may or may not see this, and who may or may not realize who I am referring to). I regret my lack of boldness, but even now am merely using this post as a less subtle, but still subtle message. I think the thing that makes me so regretful today is that it reminds me of another time I was too subtle almost precisely two years ago, and what I said too subtly then, I never had a chance to really say again.

So, I was kicking myself all day today contemplating this occurrence from the other day. “What if, what if, what if.” Between that and some other troublesome events, it seemed a melancholy day in many ways. I suppose it is the poet's curse (not that I claim to be worthy to wear the mantle of poet); one who dabbles in that type of magic known as words is like the prophetess Cassandra of Greek mythology, speaking things in ways that do reveal the intended meaning in one way or another but nevertheless are often doomed not to be picked up on. In some ways, I wish I didn't have the ability to be subtle, so I would have to just say what I should say when I should say it. Instead, I am like Fyodor Dostoevsky's Underground Man or T.S. Eliot's J. Alfred Prufrock, unable to quit making revisions so as to actually just say the thing. To make matters worse, I do not always pick up on subtlety returned to me, so sometimes, maybe the message gets through but I do not realize it. That is even worse. Maybe that is what happened this week. Maybe it did get through and it was politely ignored. Who knows. I don't.

Perhaps this is good; I overanalyze things, yes, but sometimes I analyze them correctly. Maybe there is good reason for favoring the subtle approach, and instead I'd be regretting not having used subtlety here now had I been direct. Sometimes, though, I wish life was a “Choose Your Own Adventure” where you could look and see how both choices turned out and pick the best one. But, of course it is not.

Well, even those this post is about a cryptic as any I have posted and really doesn't resolve my dilemma, I feel a bit better writing it out. No wonder I like Kierkegaard and, really, Barth; both were skilled at indirection, vagueness and subtlety as a method of writing. If only I could put it to such good use as they did! If you've talked to me this week, you can go back and read through the stuff to look for “the Da Butler Code,” I suppose. No promises it is worthwhile though.


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