Wednesday, 10 January 2007


Frank Fisher and I seem to have an irreconcilable disagreement. Frank takes a solipsistic view of the internet - he believes, he tells me, that "online everyone plays their own game, their own rules. Six billion rules, six billion refs."

So the Internet is nothing more or less than whatever each of its billions of individual users conceptualise it as being? This strikes me as the mindlessly vapid version of relativity so beloved by the postmodernists who maintain that nothing is 'better' or 'worse' than anything else, and so qualitative judgements are not just meaningless, but impossible. If that is the case, we may as well just give up any hope of rational cyber-discourse, and recognise that the Net is merely a huge global junk mail box stuffed with gibberish and an utter waste of time.

What do others think?


zola said...

Take it easy Anticant : Even I agree with so much that you say and ( I think) do do.

But postModern things are NEVER EVER WHAT WE MERELY THINK THEY ARE !!!!!

But remember it was YOU that hailed freddie Nietzsche dancers and it was freddie himself that predicted the death of grand books.

The demise of "master narratives" is not necessarily the demise of rational intercourse ( sorry LB but I needed to say that word).

Anonymous said...

Time cannot be wasted.
Time cannot be owned
Won or lost.

anticant said...

zola: You're a fine one to be talking about "the death of grand books" when you continually trot out obscure writers' opinions.

Oh Pu-leeeze! Not another philosophical canter around the concept, meaningfulness, reality etc. of Time. Whether or not it's possible, I know very well when I'm wasting mine.

butwhatif said...

You've introduced a bit of straw man there, AC, depicting PoMoers as simplistic, brutish relativists.

I am with you, though, on the sincerity thing. I find it hard to engage with anyone who's too tongue in cheek, adopting roles, being 'playful' (a favourite PM term), juggling identities and views merely to get a rise.

Nevertheless, where I think the PoMoers might have something to say, is where they would suggest that, on any thread consisting of AC arguing with Poached Egg (especially a thread that broaches core issues to do with who they are, where they are coming from etc), then the potential for rational agreement is extremely limited. Their diametrically-opposed starting points preclude that.

I say all this, and yet maybe my rejection of rational optimism, my lack of faith in ultimate convergence, comes only after watching live coverage of Parliament Square last night. The spokesmen for the Xian Evangelicals and Stonewall had a bit of a 'debate' on BBC: but you couldn't really call it a debate.

Under what circumstances, AC, would those two ever see eye to eye, ever debate meaningfully, given the two very different worlds that they inhabit?

Jose said...

There is a rule which should always be in force: the rule of respect. If there are no rules specific for a particular activity, we always must remember what our parents taught us, the respect of our neighbours, of the people we speak with, of those who pass by on the streets without even glancing at us, and the respect to what we read and write in the Internet. Without it this means of communication will be going down the drain.

If we do not consider what anybody else writes and think about it and respond giving our opinion on that particular topic, will anybody tell me what we are here for? Rude expressions or comments having nothing to do with the topic is a kind of despise or contempt towards the writer, a kind of challenge to the true nature of the issue under discussion.

Better be silent than showing disrespect towards the others.

That is my opinion.

anticant said...

I wouldn't bother too much about the dwindling band of Christian homophobic loonies, if I were you. In fact, they are doing a quite useful job, polarising and paralysing the poor old C of E around an issue that is not nearly as central to Christianity as these misguided people make out, and which had been becoming less of a burning topic until those atavistic African bishops bounced in, threatening to take their money away.

Someone whom anticant knows rather well and who had frequent tussles with this lot's predecessors in the 1960s and '70s wrote at length about them, their morals and modus operandi, in a book called "Speaking Out". There's not much more to add, really. These days I am more apprehensive of the Muslim homophobes, because they are totally humourless and given half a chance to inflict all the dire punishments prescribed in sharia law, they would actually do it.

Michael De-la-Noy - who had been Press Secretary to the then Archbishop of Canterbury - once said that to be Christian and homosexual, you need to be schizophrenic. I agree with him; and though I admire the energy and persistence of 'Gay Christians', I do think that they are vainly endeavouring to square the circle, and wonder why they don't realise that their stance is incoherent.

zola said...

Can I be a postModern quadrophenic?
Please. let me. let me.

lavenderblue said...

Who ?

anticant said...

We thought you already were.

butwhatif said...

We thought you *lot* already were, Zola. However, seeing as decision is something many PMers tend to like, then being triophenic or quintophenic would at least give one of you lot a deciding vote.

zola said...

Thanks LavenderBlue : Who !!!
Mister Jimmie comes soon and then "we" can really rock those rockers of tradition and modernity.

zola said...

Anticant : BTW : I wrote of master narratives NOT the grand books !!
There are many grand books from the postmodern fray.

Boldscot said...

Didn't The Who make that film about the 4 Irish Freedom Fighters?.

zola said...

Are you sure that was not the "Faces"?

trousers said...

Surely that was the S Club movie? No?

Toby Lewis said...

I think Frank misses out that these people on line either effectively communicate or they don't. I'm with him in that people should be entitled to say what they like, and there are many inventive methods that can be employed. Yet it is also definitely the case that much of what is said can be extremely dull and the level of hostility sometimes encountered serves little rational purpose.

zola said...

"These people"?
Let them eat cake.

lavenderblue said...

Well said, ZoZo.

" much of what is said can be extremely dull ".
As in..........
oh, please..will The Philosopher please explain in order that we may correct our posts in the future........

Toby Lewis said...

Sorry Lavender, I thought it was a given that much of what is said on-line can be dull. I'd take many of the definitions from your list. Perhaps tedious was closest to the meaning I had in mind.

Zola - I meant Frank's 6 billion!

Frank Fisher said...

Well obviously there aren't six billion anyway, unless earthworms are picking up broadband - but my point is not that there "shouldn't" be rules for polite discourse online, but that there *couldn't*. Get fifty people in a room and you will get at least five who disagree - to the death - with at least five of the others; scale that up to t'internet and it's clear consensus is never going to happen, on anything. Anything at all. Really. It's nothing to do with pomo or relativism - I'm not a relativist at all - it's plain reality.

Now - is this *desirable*? Well proably not - communication is at the heart of every benign relationship, and if we can't communicate, we can't coexist. If you feel the person you are talking to doesn't understand your view, or won't understand your view, sooner or later you'll club them to death with an ass's jawbone.

But can we do anything about it?

No. That's why the human race is either terminally fucked, or will rule the entire universe; there is no middle ground.

Who wants to buy an ass's jawbone?

anticant said...

Frank, meaningful communication depends upon intent and motivation. It has nothing necessarily to do with politeness - though that does tend to smoothe discussion, while rudeness impedes it.

Either you want to convey something meaningful to another person, or you don't - because you are merely ventilating your aggression, playing verbal games, etc.

The point of debate is not to convert the other person, or to obtain their total agreement. It is to clarify issues and differences, and to reach a better understanding of 'the other', even if at the end of the day you agree to keep on disagreeing.

If you really believe that when you don't agree with somebody, or they misunderstand you, you will end up clubbing them with the jawbone of an ass, I honestly don't think there IS much hope for the human race. Don't be so butch! You can always just walk away.

Frank Fisher said...

You can always just walk away.

Okay. Just put the jawbone down first.

anticant said...

What, for you to pick up and chase after me with? Not b------- likely!

lavenderblue said...

Chase me..........
Who used to say that ?

FilmAndTVBuff said...

It was Duncan Norville - a long time ago.
He had a couple of other dreadful catchphrases
'Come & Skip! Oh you`re keen! It`s not often you find the right one straight ..."'

Jose said...

Near him was the fresh jawbone of an ass; he reached out, grasped it, and with it killed a thousand men.

Then Samson said,
"With the jawbone of an ass
I have piled them in a heap;
With the jawbone of an ass
I have slain a thousand men."

So that ass became part of religious history.

anticant said...

So that's alright then. I wish that religions - political as well as theistic - would become part of history too.

[EXIT, pursued by mad axeman Frankie, brandishing the jawbone of an ass.]

lavenderblue said...

Anybody know the name of the Ass ?

anticant said...

He Who Is Not Henceforth To Be Named.

lavenderblue said...

Love it....!!

zola said...

We know Lavender we know.
Like it a bit me sen.