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I Am a Constellation of my Pigeonholes

Are We Not Men?

I've been slightly bothered lately by the general tendency to pigeonhole people. It seems like some people (now there's a pigeonholing term) see everything through a narrow filter. Like saying "he's black" or "she's a Christian lady" or "they're Latino" tells you something useful about anyone. Well, yes, it can tell you something, but it's usually only a small part of who they are. When we see spokespersons in the media, we're inclined to see them as one-dimensional -- as though that image is all there is to them. This came into focus recently when I discovered that movie star (pigeonhole) Harrison Ford is one of the prime movers of a group of rich people (pigeonhole) who are quietly subverting foreign governments in order to achieve remarkable goals in the preservation of endangered ecosystems around the world.

My Own Private Pigeonholes

This has also gotten me thinking about degrees of separation and the groups of which I consider myself a part. For example, I'm a cat person. I am not a dog person. Most of the people I tend to associate with are cat people. I am informally of the community of cat people whatever else they may be as individuals.


  • I am an arts and culture person. I am not a sports person
  • I am a string person. I am not a brass person
  • I am a Japanese car person. I am not an American or European car person
  • I am an email person. I am not a snail mail or telephone person
  • I am a PC person. I am not a Mac person
  • I am a spiritual person. I am not a religious person
  • I am a house person. I am not an apartment person
  • I am a melody person. I am not a rhythm person
  • I am a mid-size city person. I am not a rural or urban person
  • I am a night person. I am not a morning person
  • I am a Kentuckian
  • I am educated
  • I am a player of early music
  • I am a luthier
  • I am a liberal

My musical pedigree

I learned music history and theory from the late Ron Riddle at New College, Florida, who told me I was learning in a direct line of teachers that could be traced back to Bach. I have no way of confirming this, but I like to think it's true. So I am related in some way to the community of composers (pigeonhole), even though I am not a composer myself.

My father was a violist (pigeonhole) who played in the NBC Symphony under Toscanini, as well as the Chicago Symphony, Grant Park Orchestra (Chicago) and other orchestras. He also conducted his own chamber orchestras and taught. He performed his Suite for Viola & Orchestra with the Chicago Symphony around 1948. 

My father's father wrote spiritual hymns. All of his brothers and sisters sang or played instruments, but music was intended to glorify god and not to entertain heathens.

My father's father's father played cornet in his town band.

My Ethnic Pedigree

I am descended from English, Scots and French protestants (Puritans and Huguenots) (pigeonhole) (pigeonhole) (pigeonhole). One of my ancestors was hung as a witch (pigeonhole) in Salem (later exonerated). My mother's family was largely Midwestern farm people (pigeonhole); sensible hard-workers. My father's family was very conservative small-town folk (pigeonhole); mostly skilled trades people (draftsmen, blacksmiths, etc.) (pigeonhole) (pigeonhole) (pigeonhole) who were active in music (town bands, hymn writing).

I am a constellation of my pigeonholes

So it's this constellation of pigeonholes in which I find myself that makes me unique. I am none of these things by itself, but all of these and more. We should try to remember not to pigeonhole others as we would not have ourselves pigeonholed.

-Dwight Newton 9/7/2002