I wonder if this post will be the exception that proves the rule. In order to know that, we need to know what “the exception that proves the rule” means.
“The exception proves the rule” is a saying whose meaning has been interpreted or misinterpreted in various ways. Its true definition, or at least original meaning, is that the presence of an exception applying to a specific case establishes (“proves”) that a general rule exists. For example, a sign that says “parking prohibited on Sundays” (the exception) “proves” that parking is allowed on the other six days of the week (the rule). A more explicit phrasing might be “the exception that proves the existence of the rule.”
An alternative explanation often encountered is that the word “prove” is used in the archaic sense of “test”. Thus, the saying does not mean that an exception demonstrates a rule to be true or to exist, but that it tests the rule. In this sense, it is usually used when an exception to a rule has been identified:[clarification needed] for example, Mutillidae are wasps without wings which cannot fly, and therefore are an exception that proves (tests) the rule that wasps fly. The explanation that “proves” really means “tests” is, however, considered false by some sources.
Does that exceptional definition, from Wikipedia, prove anything? Maybe we need to know what the rule is, here, before we prove any exception.
One of my rules here is providing some clarity and explanation about why I’m writing each of my daily posts. Maybe this post will be an exception to that.
Or maybe not. In narrative therapy, it’s important to identify exceptions to people’s unhelpful, generalized, negative rules about themselves and their lives. For example, if somebody sees themselves as a loser or a failure, the narrative therapist helps them identify and talk more about the exceptions to that self-defeating rule.
When I hear exceptions outside my therapy office, I sometimes say, “That’s the exception that proves the rule. Whatever that means.” I’m realizing now that I do know what it means.
Let’s see if any of my photos today illustrate “the exception that proves the rule.”
Usually we don’t have balloons of woodland creatures in the cafeteria at work. Yesterday, there was a holiday celebration called “Wintery Woodlands,” where employees received hot chocolate, chocolate-covered pretzels, a calendar, and a lunchbox. Because I’m exceptionally distracted these days, I left my calendar and lunchbox in the cafeteria. The rule is only one calendar and lunchbox for everyone, so I guess I’m out of luck.
That’s my new and exceptional co-worker, Alice. She’s also taking a picture of the wintry woodlands in that photo. I have a rule, in this blog, of not identifying where I work. I don’t think this photo is an exception to that. (Although I have slipped, one or two times, during the two thousand, two hundred, and ten days of blogging, so I guess those posts are exceptions that prove the rule.)
I’ve taken a lot of photos of this hotel marquee, but none of them have ever said, “12 Days of Music.” I am predicting that this photo won’t be the last one that says that. I’ve also included a lot of music in this daily blog, but I don’t remember ever including any punk. If so, today will be the exception that proves the rule.
Here’s a punk rock cover of “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”
If you usually don’t comment, why not make today the exception that proves the rule?
I’m considering not thanking people at the end of this post (which definitely is a rule at this blog), but some rules I do not want there to be an exception to. So, exceptional thanks to all those who helped me create today’s blog and — of course! — to YOU.