Download article here: Heartbreak_Being Wrong.pdf
This article is taken from a terrific book by Kathryn Schulz called Being Wrong. The book looks at the ways we get things wrong: sensory mirages, leaping to conclusions, mistaken memories, just not noticing stuff because we’re concentrating on something else, ignoring evidence that might force us to change our thinking or challenge our relationships.
In this extract, she discusses the ways in which we get each other wrong. We overestimate how well we know others, especially when we love them; even though we all feel that we ourselves are an unknowable sea of experience, we feel like other people are there to be easily analyzed. Life is full of moments, sometimes funny, sometimes sad, of bumping into the unexpected reality that is another person.
1. Can you summarize, in just a couple of sentences, what Schulz is saying here about the importance and impossibility of understanding other people?
2. Pick a quote here that stands out to you, and explain what you find interesting about it.
Few areas of life are more fraught with misunderstandings, and with miscommunication, than dating. Published in 2017, “Cat Person” became an instant hit. Here’s how the author, Kristen Roupenian, describes it:
The story was inspired by a small but nasty encounter I had with someone I met online. I was shocked by the way this person treated me, and then immediately surprised by my own shock. How had I decided that this was someone I could trust? The incident got me thinking about the strange and flimsy evidence we use to judge the contextless people we meet outside our existing social networks, whether online or off. (Interview with Roupenian, New Yorker, https://www.newyorker.com/books/this-week-in-fiction/fiction-this-week-kristen-roupenian-2017-12-11
(Links to an external site.)
NOTE: The story contains a really explicit sex scene. Don’t leave it lying around in front of the kids / the grandparents / the visiting priest. 🙂
1. What do you make of the difference between the way Robert and Margot talk, text and think?
2. Is there a “bad guy” in this story, do you think?
3.The Cask of Amontillado
The best deception, any good con-man will tell you, is self-deception. And “The Cask of Amontillado” is a masterclass in how to lead someone down the wrong alley – without ever telling an actual lie.
1. Poe was a terrific master of the gothic – dark, mysterious, brooding. Pick out two or three small details here that convey the atmosphere of the story: some visual, or a movement, or a moment.
2. Look closely at how Montresor leads Fortunato on. What is his technique? How does he coax Fortunato down the tunnels?
3. At the end of the story, we find out that these events took place fifty years prior to the telling. What do you make of this? What light does it shed on Montresor?