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Friday, December 31, 2004

Preamblin' Along With the Tumblin' Tumbleweeds

Origins Part II:

Originally from an e-mail entitled "Out of the Cave"


"Hello… Anybody home?

"Hello, Mr. Gopher! It’s me, Mr. Squirrel. Yeah, hi. Just a harmless squirrel… Not a plastic explosive or anything… Nothing to worry about… I’m just here to make your last hours on earth as peaceful as possible.

"Don’t mind this [wire]. This is doctor’s orders, and so forth. You don’t mind if I just pop in there for a few laughs? That’s right.

"Or--in the words of Jean-Paul Sartre… 'Au revoir,Gopher.'

"This is going to be sweet."

-- Carl Spackler, Assistant Greenskeeper


And there it is… With that you’re friendly, red county Troglodyte has emerged from his cave, much like the gopher from his hole. I hope to prove as adroit in avoiding being blown to smithereens.

It’s been a little more than four weeks since, following the election, I sent out my little message of Gratitude and Hope with a dash of tongue-in-cheek, good-natured, Needling (GH&N). Now (well, pretty soon anyway), I will finally begin responding to the responses. The chains of public and sidebar e-mails following the GH&N mirrored much of what was happening throughout the country, and I had to conclude that (sigh), alas, Nietzsche lives, and into the cave I went. Not that I was surprised, or even disappointed, but it was simply the kind of exchange in which I had little interest. I hope that at the very least the GH&N has stimulated sufficient catharsis that nobody has had to book an emergency trip to Boca Raton for treatment of Post-Election Stress Trauma.

IMHO, much of what is passed off as discourse today is only thinly-veiled, intense indignation, usually in the form of an accusation that one party is invading, or seeking to invade, someone’s rights for the benefit of someone else’s utility, be it social, economic, personal, political, whatever. It is the consequences of this that motivated my crawling back into my cave (where some would assert, based on my voting record, I must live with a gaggle of Spanish Inquisitors), namely that when “debate” is reduced to pairs of self-righteous monologues streaming past one another that are given tit-for-tat point scoring, there can be no real argument--no persuasion, no conversion, not even a dialectic--and it bores me silly. When debate consistently becomes shrill, it is time to check first principles. As a means to create a starting point (and only as a means to create a starting point), I will respond (under separate covers) to a couple of things that were written in one of the early responses.

Update:

It has been brought to my attention (indirectly by the Troglodytrix) that the following section of my previous post:


"...much of what is passed off as discourse today is only thinly-veiled, intense indignation, usually in the form of an accusation that one party is invading, or seeking to invade, someone’s rights for the benefit of someone else’s utility, be it social, economic, personal, political, whatever... when “debate” is reduced to pairs of self-righteous monologues streaming past one another that are given tit-for-tat point scoring, there can be no real argument--no persuasion, no conversion, not even a dialectic--and it bores me silly. "
could be interpreted as being directed at certain individuals who I know have been having ongoing exchanges. Please accept my apologies. I think these exchanges are neither intense in indignation, nor self-righteous.

That said, (Yeah sure, here it comes... you apologize and now you're gonna whack 'em again) I am still more interested in a real argument (well that wasn't so bad--hey, wait a minute--you're still saying they're boring!), as in defintion 2 per merriam-webster.com:


Main Entry: ar·gu·ment
Pronunciation: 'är-gy&-m&nt
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin argumentum, from arguere
1 obsolete : an outward sign : INDICATION
2 a : a reason given in proof or rebuttal b : discourse intended to persuade
3 a : the act or process of arguing : ARGUMENTATION b : a coherent series of statements leading from a premise to a conclusion c : QUARREL, ISAGREEMENT
4 : an abstract or summary especially of a literary work
5 : the subject matter especially of a literary work
6 a : one of the independent variables upon whose value that of a function depends b : a substantive (as the direct object of a transitive verb) that is required by a predicate in grammar c : the angle assigned to a complex number when it is plotted in a complex plane using polar coordinates -- called also amplitude; compare ABSOLUTE VALUE 2


rather than

Person 1: I'm not trying to persuade you, but la dee la dee deedle dee deedle dee dum

Person 2: I respect your opinion, but doo dah doo dah bippity boppity boo



although it works just fine for gently raising objections (Oh for crying out loud, just say it already--you think they're boring!). The thing is, I don't claim to know everything (HA! Now you're gonna say they're boring AND stupid?!) and wouldn't mind exploring around the cave for some big ideas and how they apply to life (Oh). By the way, if you don't enjoy the running inner dialogue, then just delete the guy in parentheses (HEY!).

Next up: Words v. Actions

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