All these unworthy opinions…

Check your facts people! Until a few years ago, being judgmental was politically incorrect (a very tired notion today) but as I am growing older, I am realizing that Life is too short not to judge. My good friends André Démir and Tamas Ungvari are “Messrs Opinion” both; in these times of “chilling apathy”, it’s refreshing to see somebody take a stand on something (in their case, on everything). This post is an homage to these two gentlemen, both hungry observers of the life around them and armed by an uncanny fluidity of intelligence.

tamas ungvari micheleroohani

I get frustrated when I hear all these unworthy opinions rolling out of everybody’s mouth; it’s good to check our facts before sharing them with everybody. Trust but verify. I am ready to listen then but I can’t even count the number of times that somebody has recited an article from a major newspaper or repeated a pundit’s interpretation of the news as an absolute fact to me. I am not completely innocent myself.

André is a mean Tango dancer (here with his angelic wife, Carol Kelly):

andre demir carol kelly micheleroohani

My hero, Isaiah Berlin, believed in “the power of the wisely directed intellect to illuminate, without undue solemnity or needless obscurity, the ultimate moral questions that face mankind”.


isaiah berlin micheleroohani

You just have to watch TV a bit to see how this power is misused by the kinds of the anchormen at the Fox News (or CNN for that matter). Beside making me sick, Ann Coulter makes me doubt Berlin’s philosophy:

‘Life can be seen through
many windows,
none of them necessarily
clear or opaque,
less or more distorting
than any of the others.’

I would have loved to listen in to Berlin and Akhmatova‘s conversation in a fateful night in 1945.


anna akhmatova micheleroohani

There is so much going on in the world with the renegade Kosovo, the two-headed Russia and Ahmadinejad in Iraq but those should wait another post to exploit your patience – I’ll try to make the next one all about flowers and butterflies.

7 thoughts on “All these unworthy opinions…

  1. Contradictions…

    ” No need to apologise,’
    says God to his conscience.

    “Speak a louder , time says
    to eternity, I am heavy of hearing.

    Are the machine and the tiger
    related by more than purr ?

    The answer is at the back
    of the mirror, says Alice , where truth lies.

    -R.S. Thomas- Residues…

    “No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.”–

    -Nathaniel Hawthorne in “The Scarlet Letter” penetrating observation on the dangers of leading an inauthentic life.

  2. Since this post is about opinions – and those with untrue or false ones – it’s important to quote this trite expression: “Opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one!” This is trite, one could say with a yawn. But it’s trite because it’s so boringly true!
    Everyone has an opinion and everyone has this opinion because he/she believes it to be true. Obviously, this only becomes a problem when opinions differ among their owners. But this difference is inescapable. We differ in opinions because each of us has a unique world view, causing each person to derive his/her opinions from different premises. Unfortunately, these world views are often Aristocentric and self righteous. We are even willing to stupidly die for some of them. There are times we all feel like we really know the truth, and at those times, this truth couldn’t be any clearer to us. But many things we truly believed in as children have become unbelievable to us now and much of what we know right now will likely be refuted later as well. So, when will we ever know the truth? Apparently never. Even the question itself can’t be answered with certainty. If we believe in a religious fate then we presumably know the truth after death but if we are atheists then we will never know the truth as our minds will perish alike with our bodies.
    So, maybe we’re just destined to be lost in this sea of conflicted opinions, some true and some false, and merely drift around until we find an oasis of truth that seems coherent with our own. Then we can consolidate our feeling and belong to this world and mingle with those who share our deep held opinions. Meanwhile, however, we should be urged to float around in this sea and examine all opinions, and find ourselves fascinated by their magnitude and variety. Maybe that’s all we can do, simply see an opinion for what it is: a desperate attempt by its owner to belong to a world that’s far more expansive than our limited imagination can ever fathom. Maybe then we can be more tolerant of conflicting opinions and forgive people for expressing themselves in the only way they know.
    Of course, I completely agree with you on the frustration caused by the actions of those who maliciously manipulate others’ opinions, trying to shape them in ways that serves their personal goals. But that has been the history of business and politics: the art of persuasion with any means possible. This is not about enlightenment, it’s only about required results. So, when I hear an anchor person spin a fact to remedy his personal, or his party’s need, I also get frustrated; but I try to understand what his/her needs are and only wonder about his/her character.
    But I have bad news here. This frustration is the first step of a five step downward spiral: Frustration stimulates Action. Action leads to Disappointment. Disappointment leads to Apathy; and Apathy evolves slowly into Cynicism. Of course, every now and again, Action may lead to substantive Change and this dismal course is averted. But when it comes to global politics, the latter is an exception and not the rule.
    So, Maybe we do change with time as we get older. What we hold true as a child gets replaced with new truths as we grind our path into adulthood. Santa Clause disappears, so does the tooth fairy, and who knows, maybe a sense of justice. It’s a sad truth, nevertheless, when the bright truths of our youth slowly evolve into Cynicism and pessimism during the sunset of our lives.

  3. wonderful web site – as always- michele roohani. thank you.
    only an artist can make such a web site.

    and so much advertising in our world- drowning us, our silence, our dreams, our trust and our imagination. we need only a few things to be happy, millions of ads are offering us millions of things, tramping on our time, energy and happiness.

    I am now decided to write a short story titled “THOSE ADVERTISEMENTS” to fight back the modern cult of advertising. everything is superficially stuck into our lives, from politics to chewing gum, from love to a cup of coffee, from our houses and cars to the tv programs…everything, everything has become an advertisement. I won’t be surprised if I see one day an ad for condoms on the panties of my beloved. shame. When the story is finished, I’ll add it to my book “WISDOM IN SMILE” and run a second edition, just for the sake of my hatred for advertising…

    I sent my poem Shake It Baby! ( copy attached) to a well known internet paper. They published it. But, do you know what, they have filled behind the words with ads…It is disgusting. They may do so with the speeches of Mr. Bush, but not my poem! A Russian singer composed a song for this poem The opening music is this song…Thank God there were no ads in that song. Soon, that may come as well… Beautiful songs disparaged with ads of chewing gums or soda drinks or if you like (or don’t like) of luxury sport cars or hearing ads…I wouldn’t be even surprised if the science of gynecology soon invented methods by which babies are born with advertising on their fresh bodies : “use johnson’s baby powder!”

    best regards from askin

  4. Let’s ask one simple question before analyzing the hell out of this subject, as it seems to be the case with some of these comments; what would life be like if no one had any or everyone had the same opinion?

  5. Dear Michele, the night in 1945 in Leningrad between Anna and Isaiah is so frightful, because it had the Shakespearean feature of dark comedy. Do not forget about the stupid Randolph CHURCHILL IN THE BACKGROUND, spoiled brat is in neverland, who started shouting Isaiah! before the window of Ahmatova just before the bliss would have been fulfilled. though symbolic, the impotent ruling class interrupts the rather potent male to console Anna. Read the rare book of Gyorgy Dalos (German-Hungarian-Maoist on the affair). The real tragedy (Queen Margaret in Richard the III) when Ahmatova was invited by Isaiah to Oxford and she meets the wife, a Rothchild daughter. You are so sensitive to discover the crossroads of intellectual hauteur, dictatorship, inequality between gender and class. For the initiated it is enough to say: the fateful night in Leningrad, a shortcut for us, and a secret for others forever.

  6. Advertisements are not opinions- if anyone thought so. Advertisements are pollutions designed to con and lure people into buying a product or service, thinking only of the profit of the corporations which produces them- not really the real needs of the people. Why do I have to see millions of chewing gum ads,when I just want to chew a piece of gum for a few minutes of my time? Once a speaker on the radio spoke thirty minutes about Chopin’s minute waltz, before he played it – the duration of which is one minute. The worst are the ads for the political parties- so many lies told by so many incompetents to so many ignorants and to so few knowledgeable who don’t vote anyway.There is a real pollution of ads, which have infested our lives, among which true and competent opinions get lost.

    Askin Ozcan

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