June 1st, 2021

Personal Injury as Tragedy

Having learned from Simon Rifkind all trials are plays, I sought a theatrical formula appealing to audiences over time that mirrors a personal injury case. I found  Aristotle in Poetics sets forth what has become the classic formula for tragedy and it fits a personal injury case.

Plato and Aristotle argued about whether the study of tragedy is worthy of a philosopher’s time. Plato maintained all theater including tragedy is  entertainment not rising to the level of philosophical interest. Aristotle disagreed. Aristotle argued tragedy at the highest level involves the audience. The audience feels the tragic plot in cause and effect sequences that mirror universal truth.

In high level tragedy two things happen to the audience. First, they pity the tragic hero. Second, they fear the tragic result (the adversity) could happen to them. Aristotle maintains when this occurs the audience experiences a cathartic event – a purification or spiritual renewal. According to Aristotle, when members of the jury identify with  plaintiff, pity the tragic result dealt plaintiff, and fear the result could happen to them, a catharsis occurs in the verdict as the jury rights the wrong.

It is important to note tragedy is neither staged nor made up. As taught by Aristotle tragedy represents reality.  People recognize tragedy and if possible want to remedy tragedy. When a personal injury case has the dynamics of tragedy we have a case worthy of trial production.

    December 13th, 2020

    MERTON & THE TAO

    In Merton & The Tao (Dialogues with John Wu) we learn the Chinese concept of The Dao: ” The Cosmic Dao is immanent, always present and always emerging. It is creative but is not a supreme creator god who gives birth to the world through divine contemplation or the exertion of a supreme will. The Cosmic Dao generates the essence of the world “giving rise in its fluctuation to the complementary polarities of yin and yang.” Britannica.com (Dao).

     A major theme of the Dao is to connect with the natural order of things. When we do this we act in harmony with all things which brings a sense of strength and ease. At the highest level we have what Merton refers to as Skill. Skill is “an adaptive responsiveness to change.” Merton & The Tao at 95. Skill is “a unification of the physical and mental.” Applied to trial  Skill is “a knowing that is intuitive, not intellectual.” Id.

    In trial  skill involves more than the spoken word.  Skill involves the body. Skill leads to natural movement that is aesthetically pleasing. It is like a gentle wind with rhythm and timing a sacred dance. The beauty of the movement reveals the Dao-the natural order of things.

    Movement has an important role in how our message is received. Movement communicates at the subconscious level.  The subconscious level is where our emotions lie. Emotion is a prime motivator in decision making.

    Skill is not attained spontaneously.  Developing skill requires mindful training with a specific method. Attaining skill requires time and assiduous effort. Once skill is attained there is no method to it as it is internalized. 

    Practice movement such as dance. All movement should be mindful. A good movement exercise is Tai Chi. See You Tube Trial Lawyers (Tai Chi) Short Form where I demonstrate the Short Form with posts on the moves.

      June 5th, 2020

      Being Real

      What is REAL asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?

      “Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

      “Does it hurt?”

      “Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”

      “Does it happen all at once,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”

      “It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But those things don’t matter at all, because once you are real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”

      Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit (1922).

       

        January 5th, 2020

        Final Integration

        In MERTON & SUFISM The Untold Story (Edited by Rob Baker and Gary Henry-FONS VITAE 2005) Thomas Merton discusses what he terms “Final Integration.” This is a state Confucius reached by age 70 and a mystical state to be strived for:

        Merton teaches the “notion of rebirth” exists in most religions including Christianity, Sufism, Zen Buddhism and other religions with spiritual traditions. Here “emphasis is placed on the call to fulfill certain … potentialities in regard to one’s being, to ‘become someone’ that one already (potentially) is, the person one is truly meant to be.” Id. at 268. This is an awakening or a recognition of our universal essence. When we are “fully born” we have an “inner experience of life.” Id. at 271.

        We live from an “inner ground” which is more universal than our ego. In this “fully born” state of “final integration” we reach a “deeper, fuller identity than that of … [our] limited ego self which is only a fragment of our being” Id. In this state we identify with everybody. We are able to experience others “joys and sufferings as our own without becoming dominated by them.” Id. 271-72.

        The person who has “attained final integration is no longer limited by the culture in which [they] grew up.” This person embraces all of life including ordinary life, intellectual life, artistic creation, human love and spiritual life. They have passed through all of these “limiting forms while retaining all that is best and most universal in them, finally giving birth to a fully comprehensive self.” In final integration we accept not only our own community, society, friends, and culture, but all mankind. Id.

        Here we are not bound to a limited set of values. We have a “unified vision and experience of the one truth shining out in all its various manifestations, …”  With this view of life we are able to bring perspective, liberty, and spontaneity into the lives of others. In final integration we are a peacemaker. Id. at 272.

         

          December 3rd, 2018

          The Varieties of Religious Experience- le point vierge

          Thomas Merton says he cannot define le point vierge so he describes his sudden “realization” while on the corner of 4th and Walnut in Louisville with people in a shopping area:

          Then it was as if I saw the secret beauty in their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. … Again that expression, le pointe verge, (I cannot describe it) comes in here. At the center our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God. … This little point…is the pure glory of God in us. …It is like a diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in every body.

          Merton discusses “the secret beauty” as being in the hearts of the people in the crowd. Thinking of this makes me realize:

          1. My heart and brain developed progressively as a fetus in my mother’s womb, and they are my connection with  God or “The Universal Mind.” 

          2. My heart has its own nervous system with electromagnetic energy greater than my brain, and my heart’s electromagnetic energy is a source of communication as it can be detected as an energy wave.

          3. Through my heart’s rhythm I can connect to the point in my heart of soulfulness, higher consciousness and spiritual rythmatic energy which entered my heart while I was a fetus in my mother’s womb.

          Meister Eckhart teaches- St. John says: “See how great the love the Father has shown us that we are called  the children of God.” Eckerd tells us we cannot be God’s child without having the same being as God’s child.

          My connection with God- “The Universal Mind”- is found in my heart. By connecting my heart’s rhythm with the universal rhythm  I can get to the point in my heart Merton refers to as  le point verge.

            October 21st, 2018

            Offensive Innovation

            Offensive Innovation means knowing myself and trusting my ability to know what is right. Then I act on it. I take action going with what I feel is right without defensive thinking meaning worrying about how I will be accepted. As the Nike slogan says I “just do it.”

            Several years ago I was at a lecture by the great painter, William Cumming. During the question and answer session a young man asked Mr. Cumming if an artist can learn by studying painting at an art school. William Cumming answered “the ability to create art is not taught. It comes from inside the artist.”

            In essence the artist knows inside what he wants to paint and he paints it without regard for how it will be received. The artist is painting with “offensive innovation.”

              July 4th, 2017

              Fourth of July

              This Fourth of July I am focusing on acceptance. Acceptance to me means  lack of prejudgment. Acceptance means assuming another person has good qualities, Acceptance means finding the good qualities by engaging in nonjudgmental discussion. Even if we disagree there can still be acceptance.

              Acceptance requires honesty. So long as we are truthful and willing to listen to each other we can find commonality. Commonality as in mutual respect even when we have different view points. Even with different view points we can remain honest with one another and respect mutual honesty and willingness to openly discuss differences.

              The world would be a boring place if we had no differences. Different races, different economic backgrounds and different ages give us variety. We can learn from others who are different than us so long as we are willing to accept the other person for who they are and what they have to offer.

              When we accept the other person, the other person recognizes this. The other person may not change their view, but we accept each other. Differences combined with acceptance make us a great nation.

                June 27th, 2016

                I Know That I Know Nothing

                54780441 - graffiti on a brick wall - live in the moment

                Socrates reportedly said, “I know that I know nothing.” An internet review reveals many comments on what Socrates meant by his “know nothing” statement.

                To me Socrates means a wise person approaches any situation without a preconceived agenda. A preconceived agenda assumes the person has thought out a future event and pre-planned how he is going to deal with the future event. Thus, he goes into the event believing he knows what is going to happen, and how he is going to react. He then reacts in a plastic pre-planned way.

                Socrates’ statement, he knows that he knows nothing, translates to going into an event with an open mind. Following Socrates’ philosophy requires one to live in the moment without a preconceived agenda. It requires us to trust our self in the present and to react in our natural spontaneous way. In this way we are open to the moment and appreciate what is happening in the now with full awareness of the now.

                As lawyers, when we follow the know nothing philosophy, we practice law without a preconceived agenda. We are present in the moment. We are open to what is occurring in the moment. We naturally react to the moment, and this natural reaction will be recognized by others as “real.”

                Now a days I am trying to follow the Socrates method of realizing I know nothing. In the initial client interview this allows me to focus on my potential client. Thus, I listen without an agenda. I listen without pre-thinking my response before my potential client finishes her story. I allow her story to sink in, and then react in the moment, trying not to be judgmental. My potential client sees and feels my presence and that she is talking to a lawyer who is open to her story and understands her story.

                This accomplishes several things: first, it makes me a lawyer who lives in the moment, without an agenda and who fully appreciates his potential client; second, it allows me to discover my client at my highest level; and third, I am then able to obtain the best result possible by staying in the moment without an agenda.