I don’t know why, but I cannot help but to systematically contradict Ben Brooks. I don’t mean to do it, but somehow I manage. And yet, even when I seem to disagree, it’s really only an argument of degrees. Today, the paywall lifted on an article titled, The Gray.
From it came one of my favorite sentences in weeks:
So in fact this paper towel stand sits in the middle as an average thing in my life if you take everything into account, however, I hate it. I wouldn’t recommend it to my enemy.
Brooks goes on to wrestle with his feelings toward items like the paper towel holder and how those feelings affect his writing. In my work-life as a teacher, I spend a lot of time and effort helping students drag their opinions out of the gray and into the stark contrast of black and white.
Of course, as any self-respecting (or is it shameless) English teacher with a Gandalf quote handwritten in Tengwar on the whiteboard would do, I invoke another fictitious fount of wisdom, Yoda:
Do or do not. There is no try.
Now does that mean that I ignore my students efforts in favor of only results? No. It means that the opinions that appear clear and legible on the page are those that make as few compromises as possible. To bring it back to Brooks, it’s like saying, “I wouldn’t recommend it to my enemy unless he doesn’t need to tear off towels with one hand or if his paper towel holder needs are only ornamental or if you really hate the other paper towel holder makers and want to promote the openness of this cheap holder’s design.”
So Ben, and anyone else whose opinion I care to read, keep it black and white. There is no gray.