Monday, August 06, 2007

item #0049

Hello again and thank you for your reply. We are happy to continue our conversation. Your message was certainly terse, emotive, even pointed at times; but we sincerely praise you for your engagement, and for the seriousness of that engagement. That, in and of itself, is, we feel, always worthwhile. You raise some interesting ideas, for sure; and we will do our very best to answer your queries meaningfully and honestly and to meet your challenges similarly so. But it’s worth just saying, if we may, that this level of to and fro was itself prompted by yourself; insofar as it was you who first went deeper than the usual ‘hello’. What we mean by this is not any kind of ’you started it’ crap; as we welcome all levels of engagement. We mean, rather, that you set in train seriousish questions – thus prompting seriousish answers – and statements and reflections which themselves prompt kinds of answers, reactions. This process we like, as we say. We respect questions and we always try to answer attentively, clearly and with good grace. One thing can begat another, though, as we are sure you can appreciate. Argument itself has its own logic and impetus. So far as we know, we have not insulted or even criticised you. Yet, we have obviously upset you in some way; and you have evidently been critical of us. The main sticking point for you appears to be that you are a declared individual chatting to a collective, a rubric – a group of unknown number, unknown composition. In declaring yourself an individual and communicating on that basis you seem to be claiming a kind of unproblematic moral authority – based, it would seem, upon the supposed honest simplicity of that position, as a unit of one. At the same time, you are forthrightly querying and even directly aiming suspicions and objections towards us as a group – because, briefly, you are wondering who we are, are you chatting to the same person?, what gender is the speaker?, etc. Technical issues apart, here, we are confused by your stance – as we have done nothing, we feel, to, as you say, purposely obfuscate the ground between us. Such a pointed term. We are merely a group. We work as a group and adhere to and believe in the idea of a group voice. To individuate this would, we think, be against the spirit of our project and chosen way of working. Such a move would be artificial for us, that is to say, and at odds with our ethos and ideology. Can you respect that? Those technical issues addressed: yes, the same people have read, discussed and responded to your messages. We are surprised you might think otherwise, given the degree of continuity. Anything else would be inappropriate and confusing, we would say. Back to the issue of I and we: We would say that one is just as obscure to us as collective is assumed to be for you. Why routinely place us in parentheses? That looks somewhat provocative. Are we under suspicion simply by dint of our collectivism? Does that collectivism convert in your mind as more unfriendly? You said '...cold...'. Yet we spoke openly of love. Such a charge to level at relative strangers. Perhaps you feel you have shared more of yourself with us than we have shared ourselves with you, as it were? Certainly, you indicate that you feel you have said stuff about your past, etc. You continue this - emotively - in your last mail: for instance, telling us how tired and exhausted you are. But, this was not asked for on our part, nor was it directly prompted, we believe. Such things are almost always incidental to us, in fact; and we are always alarmed if such things are offered early on. We feel this bodes ill; and it usually proves to be the case. Yet, we thanked you for the information and, ever hopeful, we were philosophical about the role such material can play in contextualising things. The danger, though, is that such things are inevitably loaded, and loaded emotionally, too. Initially, for us, we thought in terms of your work using personal content, whereas ours does not in the strict sense. That is just a question of stylistic difference, isn’t it? Why should such difference lead you to infer a kind of moral hierarchy between you and us, and to then suggest over and over that we are performing a kind of underhanded trick? No umbrage taken on our part, though. We cannot be bothered with that cul-de-sac game. Instead can we attempt to be kind to you…? We want to say that, despite what you say, we don’t get the impression that you are ‘…a morose, humourless depressive who espouses Trotskyite politics and absolutes about the universe and how all should live in it…’. Your profile has confrontational asides, true; but it’s hardly narrowly political, never mind an article of fascism, nor are you overarchingly depressive. With respect, your asides are too pithy, underexplained, and unsystematic to conform to the former; and, regarding the latter, if you are somewhat negative then you are. We defend your right to be. What we get from your profile is what we get from other profiles: a voice, to take or to leave, a kind of personal shop-window, an opportunity to associate if one is interested to do so, on the levels offered by cyber. It’s like a walk down the street – happenstance, difference, democracy of a kind. We love the variety. We believe in it. We feel part of it. We contribute. We believe in saying ‘we like what you do’ when we do. We probably take it all too seriously – seriously, that is, in terms of spending time upon it. You say we have been ‘…oppressively serious…’. Again, your choice of phrase is somewhat pointed, we feel. But let’s go with your actual charge for a moment… True enough, our messages have not contained comic flights. Should they have done so? Why? Just because we espouse comedy, do we have to use it in our messages? Are you wanting to proscribe what we say just as you proscribe what you say? Why? What for? Our approach is always to respect what others might be saying and how they say it. Again, the seriousness flowed from your direction. We were simply reacting to and thus respecting what we felt you were after with your questions. The exchanges had a kind of implicit tone of quasi-intellectual debate, wherein a certain seriousness is assumed. Comic interpolations could have looked like levity, of course, but maybe levity of an insulting kind – flippancy, not taking you seriously; and in so being you might have been perturbed by that instead of its absence. Again, your citation of ‘…mission statement…’ looks pithy at best, barbed and mocking at worse. We were and we are simply writing to you. Semantics looks inviting, doesn’t it? But it is a dubious friend … cannot any utterance be called a mission statement, and in the right context cannot that be given a negative complexion for point-scoring in an argument? Of course, you cover this by saying it was an initial reaction and you are leaving as is. A tad too cosy and convenient this, we feel. Do you, generally, reflect upon what you say, we wonder? Do you say what you say come what may, and subsequently stand by it as a genuine reaction given at a certain time? If so, we suspect this pisses a lot of people off. Maybe you are not bothered by this. But it is a hard life to live. Do you seek some kind of eventual inner-accord or some kind of learning experience in this by some circuitous route, perhaps? Getting people’s backs up as a starting point is, we believe, a fatally limited, somewhat adolescent modus operandi. Take, for example, your own profile headline. That’s about the first thing a viewer of your profile would see after your name and image. It’s a veritable can of worms – in terms of politics and ideas, of course, but also, and more importantly, in terms of the narrow and provocative array of assumptions you make. These words feel like they were spat into the page, and into the face of your viewers. For ourselves, we are not deeply-bothered, annoyed or concerned about such things – as we believe in democracy. We just muse over why you would want to say that upfront, a priori, like a cipher before-the-fact. Is this you being defensive, pre-emptive, we wonder? If so, has the headline protected you? Has it worked, in other words? One reasonable reaction to your headline might be ‘who does she think she is?’, of course. More sympathetically, though, we feel like saying ‘what a shame, as it might prevent some from looking at your profile further’. Maybe the headline is a test? We are academics, as we said… Is your ‘…word-envy…’ missile intended to land in our backyard, we wonder? Whatever - something of a gross generalisation, don’t you think? Why do you feel this? Surely, again, in being collective we have done nothing to cause such things to occur to you? You say that this dynamic renders you ‘…a slide under a microscope where the collective ‘we’ observe me…’. Again, that’s one possible interpretation of any encounter – either as an individual encountering other persons or as a collective encountering another person …and so on. If we may say, you appear to be embroidering actuality with his whole issue; playing a kind of victim by dint of being one to our several. We are not ganging up on you in any way. Your perception of this needs challenging - and from you end - we feel. We are concentrating upon words with you not because we view you – narrowly or otherwise – as a wordsmith. We are doing so because words are the best means by which to say what we are saying here. In general we feel you are reading too much into things and are, if you will, a little paranoid. We have no ulterior motives. We simply responded to you initial comment, took that to email, and here we are.

We speak only English.

Best wishes.


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