Our most stubborn and pertinacious assumptions are precisely those which remain unconscious and therefore uncritical . . . concepts we take for granted without realizing that we do so at our peril. . . . The best and perhaps the only sure way of bringing to light and revivifying our fossilized assumptions, and of destroying their power to cramp and confine us, is by subjecting ourselves to the shock of contact with a very alien tradition.
Harold Osborne, Aesthetics and Art Theory
I am an outsider.
When I was about five or six years old, I didn't live in the "real" world. Instead, I lived on the "outside." I was an orphan.
I was taught only two rules at the orphanage: to conform and to obey.
Despite the Dickensian images of foundlings in books and musicals, children who live in orphanages are not jolly little waifs, strongly bonded to one another by their mutual adversity. To the contrary, they do not easily form trusting relationships. Abandonment drains children of the capacity for trust. Like prison inmates, alliances among orphans are not based on compassion and fraternity, but on political expediency, like military alliances.
In youth, most of us must run the gauntlet occasionally, but in order to survive in an orphanage a person must run the gauntlet almost every day. In the world of the dispossessed, every emotional predica-