Be...excellent...to each other.

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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Rick Keeney
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Rick Keeney » Mon Aug 25, 2014 10:07 pm

Steve Barber wrote:
True dat.



Sorry.

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FrankChurch
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby FrankChurch » Tue Aug 26, 2014 11:42 am

It's called Slang Keeney. Can u hang? :lol:

Mark Tiedemann
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Sat Aug 30, 2014 11:20 am

Arguments on-line are handicapped by two things—the limitations of the written word and the fact that most correspondents don’t actually know each other.

Limitations of th written word. That may sound odd coming from a writer. It is my belief that the written word can perform amazing things if used properly. But it has a specific trajectory and application and therefore needs be used appropriately. When so used, we find working definitions of “well-written” and “beautiful prose.” When we come upon texts which seem lacking in one or more elements usually taken as given in such descriptions and yet find ourselves compelled by the sentences, we tend to modify our appreciation by saying “Well, so-n-so is a good storyteller.” This is a way of saying that while we enjoyed reading the piece in question, we realize that the wordsmithing was not on par with our expectations of “beautiful prose.” Sometimes this is not really fair. We may be reacting to stylistic choices rather than actual wordcraft per whatever metric we’re using. (For instance, with few exceptions I don’t actually think Larry Niven writes beautiful prose, but I enjoy the stories, and he language is efficient if sometimes inelegant. This is a question of taste for the most part.)

The limitations of the written word to which I refer have entirely to do with regards to what we call Conversation. Conversation is different. Conversation relies as much if not more on the actual presence of the conversants, because body language, tonal inflection, eye contact, the ineffable quality of verbal interaction. Such things can be evoked in writing between two characters, but both those characters are products of the artifice of storytelling, not actual human beings trying to say something to each other. What is there is an absolute ownership of both sides of the “conversation” within the context of the story by the writer. Once you have two people contributing to a dialogue that control is lost and it doesn’t matter how much nuance one brings to one’s own contribution, at some point meaning becomes fluid and misunderstandings manifest, occasionally ramifying in runaway claims and counterclaims that can take people into places from which there is no logical escape.

All you can then do is apologize, proclaim mea culpa, and let it go.

But people aren’t geared that way. Whereas normal conversation can allow for something to be dropped and ignored as the topic changes and the words move on, written conversation remains in place, a goad and challenge, and must be explicitly nullified—apology, explanation, repudiation, whatever is required must be done in fact before the offending bit can be ignored by everyone involved. If the offender puts something out there that demands one of these and then fails to do so, the offending line remains, a challenge, a fetid, rotting remnant, a reminder that is difficult to ignore, and proof that what was said was in fact said and nothing has been done to address the offense.

The limitation of the written word is exemplified by its permanence, in this sense, and in its persistent insistence on its own validity.

There are similar if different limitations to the spoken word, but we are not here interested in that except insofar as people treat the written as if it were the spoken. In online dialogue, for instance.

Phrases can be tossed off in conversation and if we’re all in the same room we can engage or ignore as the flow takes us, but online, in chatrooms and fora, we do not have that freedom. No phrase tossed off remains tossed off.

Insult remains. Error persists. Frustration can then mount, theoretically to infinity.

We must, in order to remain civil and productive among ourselves, be even more willing to back up, own mistakes, apologize for offense (intended or otherwise), and pay attention to our words before they become unretractable.

The infelicities of intent do not convey in the same way here.

In a recent exchange over a topic I do not wish to resurrect I said some things in an immoderate and ill-considered fashion—as if I were in the same room with everyone and we all played by the rules of actual realtime conversation—and have felt crappy about something I said since. Because instead of just backing up and realizing what I said, while intending it to apply only to the topic at hand, had broader consequences, I doubled down and defended my choice of opprobrium.

In this, I was to some extent driven by the nature of the conversation and in particular the frustrations of the topic. No real excuse.

You see, these “conversations” are in between critters. If we were writing letters to each other, more care would be taken, I believe, in what we say and how we say it. But because we’re engaging in what we think of as a conversation, we do not apply the same care as we would in a letter. We try and some of us are more successful than others. But it’s a deceptive game and it is easy to forget that we aren’t just talkin’ here.

So I, for one, absented myself for a time to give due consideration to what I did and how I did it.

Because, you see, like most people, I have prejudices. I do not believe people ever “cure” themselves of prejudice—they either find ways to contain it or it fades away in time. Occasionally, we discover that what we thought we had gotten over is still there, waiting only for the proper moment and circumstance to reveal itself and show us that we still think in unfortunate ways. Intellectual sophistication often does away with what are essentially naivetes of ill-considered thinking, but not always—sometimes it’s only a mask, even to ourselves. The right phrase comes along, the sufficient provocation, and voila! There it is, in all its unlovely glory, a prejudice and its attendant statements.

I was reminded here that I still have one. It might be the last one I have that is of a purely visceral nature—I have many prejudices which I consider “honestly” earned of an intellectual nature (for instance, I have a marrow-deep prejudice against country music and Harlequin romances and certain strains of political theory, but these have all been arrived at after long consideration, not unmodified infantile reactions to childish programming, though I admit that for some people there may be no difference)—and it emerged and I must own it. When I exercise it I mean it to apply to very specific people at very specific times, not a blanket ignominy splashed over everyone that coincidentally falls into the parameters of my prejudice—but that meaning and intent to do not convey outside face to face conversation and probably not even then. It is sloppy thinking and revelatory of a fey bit of unlikability in my psyche that needs redressing.

I’m working on it.

But I thought it might be useful to examine the circumstances in which it came to a froth, because we keep running aground on what I consider the poor use by certain people of a mechanism which requires more care than some of us give it.

My apologies to any I may have offended (and especially to those I know I offended) and I promise to try to do better.

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FrankChurch
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby FrankChurch » Sat Aug 30, 2014 11:48 am

Mark, I missed you. I really did.

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Rick Keeney
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Rick Keeney » Sun Aug 31, 2014 12:10 pm

Mark Tiedemann wrote:...we keep running aground on what I consider the poor use by certain people of a mechanism which requires more care than some of us give it.


Boy, and how.

And here we are, well into our 30 day grace period...

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FrankChurch
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby FrankChurch » Sun Aug 31, 2014 1:49 pm

Barber, Keeney, you met him. What does he look like. What is he like. Is he as 'different' as he is here? :)

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Steve Barber
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Steve Barber » Sun Aug 31, 2014 3:12 pm

FrankChurch wrote:Barber, Keeney, you met him. What does he look like. What is he like. Is he as 'different' as he is here? :)


Wrong thread, Frank.
All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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Rick Keeney
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Rick Keeney » Mon Sep 01, 2014 8:55 pm

Also an inappropriate question.

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FinderDoug
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby FinderDoug » Wed Sep 03, 2014 12:57 am

Rick's comment is fair.

Talking around someone, as if they're not present within earshot (or eyeball), and asking questions about them that might just as easily be asked OF them, is basic rudeness. You wouldn't sit next to someone at a party and ask the guy across from that person, "So, is this mook next to me worth bothering with, or is he a colossal tool?" Why would you do it here?

It dehumanizes someone else by acting like they're not there.

It's worse when it includes wording designed to troll the subject of the question (yes, phrasing it, "Is he as 'different' as he is here?" is, emoticon or not, designed to provoke a response from Rick by baiting him with the emphasized 'different'. It's one thing if you're jibing with someone; it's another when done AT someone, while addressing someone else entirely. The latter is basic button-pushing.)

This is the sort of foolish sport-making at another's expense that builds animosity. And animosity is detrimental to the health and survival of this place.

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FrankChurch
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby FrankChurch » Wed Sep 03, 2014 11:08 am

As long as everybody is open to iconoclasm. My meme.

Mark Tiedemann
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Wed Sep 03, 2014 11:41 am

Iconoclasm is all very well and good, but from time to time you have be glazier and put back the windows you just smashed. Leaving the wreckage for someone else is simply rude. Or lazy.

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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Moderator » Wed Sep 03, 2014 11:49 am

FrankChurch wrote:As long as everybody is open to iconoclasm. My meme.


Mark is correct -- destruction for destruction's sake is worthless.

Plus, I don't believe "Iconoclast" is the word you mean to use.

1.
a person who attacks cherished beliefs, traditional institutions, etc., as being based on error or superstition.
2.
a breaker or destroyer of images, especially those set up for religious veneration.


But as both Mark and Doug note, all contributions here should be oriented towards making the Forums a better place -- not tearing those things down and simultaneously requiring that everyone accept that as your role. Baiting other people and pretending that is being "iconoclastic" is a false-from-the-start premise and won't fly.

I'm glad that Keeney, Doug, Ezra and Mark are pushing back on this behavior. as is noted earlier in this thread, self-policing is really going to be far more effective in the long run than waiting on the sidelines for me to see something and act on it. If the group response is unfair or inaccurate I usually catch that, but if it's valid criticism it will be left to stand.

Again, deliberate destruction is not a valuable role -- and I won't allow that to be accepted as a default in this case. To do so would give you some sort of special status, and negates your responsibility to engage on anything resembling a meaningful level.
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

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FrankChurch
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby FrankChurch » Wed Sep 03, 2014 12:07 pm

Give me an example of baiting? I really don't know. In certain ways anything can be baiting.

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AndrewR
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby AndrewR » Wed Sep 03, 2014 1:12 pm

FrankChurch wrote:Give me an example of baiting? I really don't know. In certain ways anything can be baiting.


Rather than make others do the footwork for you, I'd suggest that you do a review of your posts and read the responses to them. Seeing how people respond may give you a better answer than anyone of us could provide for you.

If you're not careful, you might actually learn something from your review. :-)
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Re: Be...excellent...to each other.

Postby Moderator » Wed Sep 03, 2014 1:21 pm

FrankChurch wrote:Barber, Keeney, you met him. What does he look like. What is he like. Is he as 'different' as he is here? :)


Moderator wrote:
FrankChurch wrote:Not even our media defenders Barber and Douglas Lane can deny this.


FinderDoug wrote:You calling people out in an effort to engage gets old.


Yep, and qualifies as "baiting" at the least, and "trolling" at the worst.

Frank. Knock it off.
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.


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