you get them wrong before you meet them, while you're anticipating meeting them; you get them wrong while you're with them; and then you go home to tell somebody else about the meeting and you get them all wrong again.
since the same generally goes for them with you, the whole thing is really a dazzling illustration empty of all perception, an astonishing farce of misperception. and what are we to do about this terribly significant business of other people, which gets bled of the significance we think it has and takes on instead a significance that is ludicrous, so illequipped are we all to envision one another's interior workings and invisible aims?
is everyone to go off and lock the door and sit secluded like the lonely writers do, in a soundproof cell, summoning people out of words and then proposing that these word people are closer to the real thing than the real people that we mangle with our ignorance every day?
the fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. it's getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again.
that's how we know we're alive: we're wrong.
maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride. but if you can do that -- well, lucky you.
(philip roth, american pastoral)