The Precarious Imposition

“If you want to be respected by others, the great thing is to respect yourself. Only by that, only by self-respect will you compel others to respect you.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Insulted and Humiliated


When someone asks you a question, especially one which involves you personally in the question and the answer, what is the first thing that you do?

When someone presents you with a problem and asks you – what would you do – what do you do?

Do you:

a) Think about the question and how to answer it. Getting caught up in what you would do until a story is created within which is then shared with the querent.

b) Wish they hadn’t asked the question as now you feel obliged to give them an answer.

c) Pause and consider the person who asked the question and why they are asking it.

d) Something else.

When I first saw today’s Daily Prompt:


Morton’s Fork

If you had to choose between being able to write a blog (but not read others’) and being able to read others’ blogs (but not write your own), which would you pick? Why?


My reaction was one which I tend to have when people ask me questions, especially ones disguised as a dilemma of sorts. I tend to think – this is not my problem, it’s yours, and I have no intention of making it mine.

This is a protective reaction due to past experience with questions like this, the people who ask them and the reasons people sometimes ask them.

Not sure why this one calls itself Morton’s Fork. Perhaps it’s trying to be clever or something a little bit more insidious than that, trying to distract the querent from the questioner’s motives for the query by using intellectual terminology.

This bit stood out in wiki’s explanation of Morton’s Fork – A Morton’s Fork is a specious piece of reasoning in which contradictory arguments lead to the same (unpleasant) conclusion.

Hmmm… methinks thinks. Thinks like this – Someone is distracting themselves from and avoiding what they consider to be and ‘unpleasant’ conclusion.

Perhaps I’m wrong, happens all the time, but what if… you just severed the Gordian knot, ripped off the bandaid, and got out from under the Sword of Damocles (rather than dragging others under it and asking them what they would do about it).


Alexander_cutting_the_Gordian_knot_by_Andre_Castaigne_(1898-1899)Alexander cutting the Gordian knot by Andre Castaigne

A question like this one is a knot waiting to entangle you in it. As you get caught up trying to find an answer, one which will perhaps be right even though there is no right answer to a question like this, you get enmeshed in the mesh and mess of it… and the question isn’t even yours.

Meanwhile the person who asked it… walks away, bored. Or sticks around to enjoy the sight of you squirming. Either way they are not really involved in the consequences of what they started. Their problem is your problem too now. People with these kinds of problems love company, then maybe when the Sword of Damocles finally falls… it might hit someone else in the gathered crowd beneath it.

Not saying that’s what the person who asked this question was doing, but it is interesting to note that upon visiting their blog, the first post I saw (wasn’t one answering their own question – which is something that is usually expected of prompt writers, although not a hard and fast rule as the blogosphere is extremely flexible) and therefore the last post which they had created was one of those which you see quite often on blogs which have been abandoned and neglected by their blogger for a while. Life got in the way of blogging, they’re terribly sorry for not posting, they’re still alive and still remember that they have a blog, and here’s something to tide any readers out there over.

Those kind of posts are a bit of a death knell. A bell warning followers and blogger alike, but is anyone listening.

Suddenly their prompt just got more interesting. Before it was an idle curiosity, a what would you do which really doesn’t care what you’d do, it just likes asking questions like that. Now it’s personal to the questioner, they’re involved in it. The questioner has a dilemma, a personal one, and has chosen to express it indirectly. What they’re doing is taken a bit of a Gordian knot which they have about their own blog and blogging, and rather than taking a sharp knife to cut themselves free, they’re giving it to someone else to solve… and maybe they’ll find what they’re looking for in the answers of others – someone else to cut their knot for them, or at least give them a justification for doing it themselves.

But will they bother to read the answers to their prompt?


“But man is a fickle and disreputable creature and perhaps, like a chess-player, is interested in the process of attaining his goal rather than the goal itself.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground


And do they realise that their question, the prompt, answered itself the moment they asked it. Before they asked it of others, they had their answer.

All bloggers have lives, lives which sometimes do their best to leach away the time set aside to blog. If a blogger posts every day, that does not mean that they don’t read other blogs, nor does it mean that they somehow don’t have a life. It just means that they love their blog, blogging, and everything which is a part of it. Why would they sacrifice any of that just because someone else is caught up in a knotty dilemma of their own making about it.

Blogging does not mean you can’t read the blogs of others. It’s an intrinsic part of blogging. And if you killed off your blog, sacrificed one of your pleasures, of sharing, expressing, giving voice to yourself, for another pleasure, reading the blogs of others, learning about them and their lives, then it would sour that pleasure too.

If you give up your life for others… things change. Your life and that of others become entwined in a twisted manner. Giving up your blog to read those of others… will change how you read the blogs of others. A small seed will be planted within which will grow into a weed, and not a pretty one which can be forgiven for being classified as a weed by a picky and biased gardener. The lives of others will become more important than your own in a way which will make their lives something which you own in some complex way. You will slowly begin to see their living as something worth taking away from them as it was taken from you – even if it was by your own hand and choice.

For me, personally, my answer to this dilemma is – It’s all or nothing.

That’s not as truculent, extremist or as black and white as it may sound. It’s the voice of experience, of having lived through other dilemmas, life ones, similar to this and having learned about the consequence of choices, especially those which involve sacrifice and compromise of a sort which you would not have chosen either way, but were placed in a precarious position by an imposition.


“The world says: “You have needs — satisfy them. You have as much right as the rich and the mighty. Don’t hesitate to satisfy your needs; indeed, expand your needs and demand more.” This is the worldly doctrine of today. And they believe that this is freedom. The result for the rich is isolation and suicide, for the poor, envy and murder.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov