Thinking in the shower about how strange it's been to be attributed Svengali-like powers &, I suppose, attitudes.
Just plain don't have either.
It's true that, as a youth, there were occasions when I acted more sympathetic & interested in others than I actually was in order to gain what I imagined was an advantage with them, didn't like the situations that got me into, these days I usually act less sympathetic & interested than I actually am, if anything.
A problem with understanding other people reasonably well is that it makes it possible to feign sympathy & interest successfully. Another problem with it is that people are generally at best pretty ambivalent in their desire to be understood. In my experience, once they get a sense of what that's actually like, they turn & run as fast as possible.
So, alienation & other beautiful things.
Peretz wants out, I want to drink more coffee, I'm sure we'll work something out.