I thought of the cab driver who would buy a pile of books with his food money, saying, "If you've only got enough money for two loaves of bread, buy a loaf of bread and a bouquet of lavender." This seems the correct economy. That no matter how short-changed a person might feel, like the imaginary descendent in Helps' Companions, suffering for not coming from a pushy family, or misunderstood, like a sentient but too sensitive friend of mine, there is to be some slack left over to wind around for there to be another row of words, another bloom or inflorescence and some tension to push towards learning.
I extract from these experiences, these summations, some threads: the weft of compassion, which shuttles past the holes in logic for the greater good of drawing in, and the warp of comprehension where these sturdy lines are capable of understanding outside the self, in the self-silent reception of listening, with intellect strained to receive the message. Except according to an old warning, pro captu lectoris habent sua fata libelli, not everyone is up to the task of comprehension, though it is taught in school, through reading, and any book or person not forceful enough to deliver the message on their own may need a friend to "do or say for him what he never can do or say so well, or even at all, for himself". Which is a lovely sentiment, but Helps continues, "Phoenixes and friends are creatures of the least prolific nature".
Friends, who might mediate for us, may be where we might never imagine, like the mimosa of winter, or flower-picking chthonian goddess.* The delicate (unhardened) eye has a chance to perceive them. Where people reject others for trifling, superficial reasons, like literary inclinations or lack thereof, those superficial differences may actually hide a weft of similarity to the more discerning. What is shared may be impartiality and love of truth, which can also mean a willingness to admit the darker side of any picture. A rather effective film about friends who pose as such vs. equity in its essence is Citizen Ruth. The friend is one who comes later. In fact, that friend demonstrates the superiority of the weft of compassion: to love unconditionally or to make a similar gesture is to transcend comprehension in its little details.
But the details do exist, in prolific palaver not so generous except in lessons for the one who tries both to feel and understand (many are the faults in weaving). Archbishop Whatley - appendixing himself onto Bacon through his commentary, identifies two kinds of speakers: those who speak because they want to, and those who speak because they have something to say: the latter, speaking "from fullness of the matter, and thinking only of the matter, and not themselves and the opinion that will be formed of them": speaking simply and in earnest. Whatley was responding to Bacon's essay in which he writes: "Some in their discourse desire rather commendation of wit, in being able to hold all arguments, than of judgement, in discerning what is true; as if it were a praise to know what might be said, and not what should be thought." Just as friends and phoenixes are few, so are those who engage in the process of the search for truth (i.e. the problem of equity and listening). Pro captu lectoris habent sua fata libelli. I think this article does all of that well.
This plant, enrich'd with sense and life, Pleases the widow, and the wife; With its Articulations, James Perry writes of the mimosa. It is an art form to conduct a good conversation, as Bacon demonstrates, requiring the right balance of quotation, talking, listening, asking questions, appropriate jokes, and so on. It is an art form to deal with other human beings in the best way possible.
For to turn the comprehension mirror towards the self, one sees where one may unsettle others by not having internalised the vocabulary they are comfortable with. For example, to choose to support one's point by citing a word's etymology (or loose verbal connections) is considered sloppy thinking by some who pride science over the purpose of the figure of speech, concluding that as the roots of words are haphazard, they may never bear good fruit. This is illustrated by the Latin word, busilis, and phrase, lucus a non lucendo. To use such illustrations may cause some to take offense, as if their reason had not been heard.
Of course, confusion arises in the grey areas between comprehension and analysis, a whole other warp and weft. Suffice it to say, to comprehend meaning despite taste is to allow in the message.
Like letting the sun in, it changes even the familiar ever so slightly. It can be hard sometimes, if one feels beaten down or powerless alone to leave some slack so the weft of domestic thread can wrap around for another row of words or to embroider one more inflorescence, tracing the warped articulation of those simple market flowers, so vital.