Dear Catastrophizer,
   I recently and unexpectedly ran into an ex girlfriend that I'd not seen in 3 years. She seemed very pleased to have seen me, we had a very pleasant chat and parted amicably with a brief peck on the cheek and an embrace.
   I left with the feeling that that was one relationship I could be proud of, that we had both conducted ourselves like adults and despite having had an unsuccessful romantic relationship we were still able to interact warmly and cordially with all thoughts of bitterness and jealousy buried deep in the past.
   Surely this can't be right?

You have good instincts: of course it's not right. I like a good catastrophizing challenge, being given a scenario that appears rosy so I can apply my intellect to its sullying. Alas, this is not such a challenge or such a scenario. It's like shooting grim fish in a depressing barrel.

1) "...that was one relationship I could be proud of..." The quiet pathos of this sentence would be heartbreaking if I hadn't developed an immunity to quiet pathos by exposing myself to it continually over the course of thirty years. Do we really need to catastrophize this particular encounter when it's clear your life likely already boasts enough catastrophic material to power hundreds of obscure blogs? If a brief, unplanned chat with a woman you're no longer in contact with constitutes one of your few sources of interpersonal pride, you might want to just go off and live on a pillar in the desert and give the whole other people thing up (click here for artists' renderings of the kind of beard you would have to rustle up in order to do so).

2) I am now going to pull off a bravura interpretive performance by linking your unexpected encounter with the current popular revolt in Egypt, in the process cheapening both. People, like nations, behave warmly and cordially for a number of different reasons, the least likely of which being that they are genuinely fond of one another. It is far more likely that people, like many nations, are polite with one another because they don't want to cause a fuss, they don't have time for a lengthy airing of hidden grievances, or they're afraid of destabilizing the region and jeopardizing their relationship with one of Israel's few local allies. One of the things about "thoughts of bitterness and jealousy" is that, as they're thoughts, you can't see them if they belong to someone else. It's all too possible that your ex's head is teeming with malignant thoughts, but that she, like many nations, has decided to protect her own interests by pursuing a non-interventionist foreign policy.

Send the Catastrophizer your requests for advice and/or rationalizations using the form conveniently provided HERE. I will publish my responses on the THE CATASTROPHIZER page.

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2/2/2011 09:38:30 am

I am in favour of more discussion of the intersections between the catastrophe of politics and the catastrophe or interpersonal relationships.

2/2/2011 08:39:42 pm

brilliant !!


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