So - even a stopped clock is right twice a day. I can apply this to so many work situations I've lived through! but not now, now I'm thinking that by extension, even a silly cookbook can give you one gem of a recipe, even a whiny self-indulgent novel can contain one paragraph or if luck holds, one chapter, that connects with you. Example, a few pages about a guy going nowhere who finds a job at a gravestone and monument business. His task is to draw up "renderings" of sample gravestones for the customers to peruse while ordering, this taking place in the period between World Wars when there were no computers and almost any job was a good job. To hang on to the job, our hero adds artistic flourishes to his sketches, a widow bent with grief, a small child holding a flower... and then he gets really creative, adding sample inscriptions, in which he kills off people who've let him down in the past, name, "dates," horrifying Bible quote - plague, vengeance - and cause of death, generally grisly.
Here lies (Name of Bullying Teacher), who died alone after horrible suffering, victim to an incurable social disease. A local politician's fourth wife dies of a lack of curiosity, the devoted mother of eleven dies of exhaustion, most of a beloved husband's body is found behind a tavern and mourned by a relieved family. The town's local hero, a WW I officer, is trampled to death by the heroically retreating regiment he'd urged forward. The gates of Hell open with joy to welcome the Honorable ...Ultimately, the artistic shading is not quite finished when the customer arrives - Steven King would have made the awful things come true, but E.M. Remarque gave his protagonist a worse fate: unemployment in 1930's Germany. I myself have spent many morbid hours imagining the stone on the grave of the world's worst boss while I was hunting for a better job. Or a different job. Anything. That chapter of my life is done, happily, but I'm grateful for the fictional gravestones.
And so I contemplate the stopped clock adage. It can also mean, by extension, that someone who habitually ignores facts, who misleads and overstates, can also tell the plain truth, by accident, or without recognizing that it is true. Example: Markdowns are mistakes.
Because, you know, there's also a saying about what you think when the clock strikes thirteen.