People are comprehensible

Yesterday was the first day of resumed circus classes. K was extremely pleased.

We had an interesting talk in the car on the way there, about pop music, and Glee, and why people make bad decisions. She told me some of the plots of Glee, and I asked her why she thought the characters were doing what they did.

I think both fiction and pop music can be useful tools for interpreting the world. In music, people are frequently trying to explain what they feel, why they feel this way, what they are doing, and why they think doing this thing is a good or bad idea. It’s actions and motivation tied to emotions. It is, in short, the thing I was terrible at figuring out as a child and teenager. K and M both really love music of all sorts. I’m glad they do, not least of which for the inadvertently instructional elements contained therein.

Fiction is, of course, fiction. Fiction is the map of the possible. But fiction is not always prescriptive, as I understood it when I was a child. It is frequently descriptive and disapproving. I try, when I talk to the kids about fiction, to ask them what they think of the actions people are taking. Is this a good idea or a bad idea? Will this action lead to the desired outcome? Why does the character do this action instead of something else?

These questions are easier in scenes of action. They are more complicated in scenes of emotion. Yet both of my kids can make guesses as to motivations in fiction and in pop music. They both can look at a narrator’s actions and assess those actions. They are kids, and do not have the knowledge-base that I have, of course. But time fixes that. Time, and reading, and experiencing a broad range of human interactions. It is my hope that my kids will be better with people than I was when I was young. It is my hope that these things can be taught.

I can’t know whether the conversations have any impact at all, let alone the impact I want. But it doesn’t seem to be hurting anything to talk about the issues at hand.

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