Discernment

A beautiful, treacherous, exciting, annoying view from the fourth floor of Mills Mill.

A beautiful, treacherous, exciting, annoying view from the fourth floor of Mills Mill. (Click for higher resolution.)

It’s obvious, I think, that we’re hardwired to be judgmental.

It’s obvious also that some of us are more judgmental, more discerning we could say, than others, whether owing to experience or native ability. Euell Gibbons, for example, knew exactly what parts of a pine tree are good to eat. People with perfect pitch wince at chords the rest of us find pleasing. Intuitives see messages writ large in facial expressions that to the less gifted look like gibberish. Or like nothing at all.

The utility of discernment is an easy sell where practical matters are concerned. Bridges are built by very, very discerning people, indeed, and we like it that way.

There’s less agreement about the utility of discernment where creative content is concerned. Beauty, as we’re told, is in the eye of the beholder, and if I think your elixir is piss, the most we’re expected to do about it is agree to disagree, and respectfully, because our palates might be sophisticated differently, or of different cultures, or simply, subjectively different.

On this snowy day that’s caused our governor to declare a state of emergency and which I declare to be beautiful, I’m hearing that a locally ballyhooed production isn’t what the hangers on crack it up to be. The hangers on are invested of course, as are those directly involved, which makes me wonder … is there something to be gained by singing along when the chorus enters declaring its love for itself?