Future, Present, & Past:

~~ Giving itself latitude and leisure to take any premise or inquiry to its furthest associative conclusion.
Critical~~ Ready to apply, to itself and its object, the canons of reason, evidence, style, and ethics, up to their limits.
Traditional~~ At home and at large in the ecosystem of practice and memory that radically nourishes the whole person.

Oυδεὶς άμουσος εἰσίτω

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A comment on comments

From an email from an SCT commenter:
As you can see, I've tried to contribute a bit, but (as I think you hinted in response to my most recent posting) my critiques tend to be pretty "meta" and "outsider-ly" and therefore might not be well-suited for what you're aiming to do with the blog. I'll consider that fact before posting further...
I have expressed myself poorly indeed if I've implied that anyone's comment have in any way been beside-the-point. On the contrary, comments are precisely what I hoped for when I started the blog in the first place. There may be some who want a megaphone to shout into a soundproof box, but that's not me. It is possible that we might wind up "talking past" each other at first, but to my mind--and I really cannot emphasize this enough--the how of the exchange is every bit as important, if not more so, that is the what, the substance or content. If I miss your point or you miss mine, I am interested, precisely as a philosopher (I really do hold that philosophy is about love), in us "getting it." Of course this might require more patience or time than anyone can muster at any given moment (I have failed, and will fail, to respond to every comment, partly from following doctor's orders to forego always having the last word, but also partly out of sloth and inattention). But human failings or the proclivities of chance are to be forgiven. One hopes.
What I mean is that if you have a notion triggered by something I write, even if it were pure free-association on your part, it would behoove me to understand the relevance you sense. I don't have to agree, and I don't have to think it important, but if I am responding, I ought to understand what I'm responding to. I keep saying "metalepsis," a word I use in order to keep the cloud of connotations it has, but this "getting it" is a huge part of what I mean. This is the following of the "secret roads that go from world to world," in this case the world you inhabit and the one I am in. If you are writing one poem and I am writing another, there is some way between them, and it's this way I am interested in. The "aha," "eureka" moment of seeing what the other person means is not just a necessary preliminary to discourse; in a certain sense it's the whole. damn. thing.
This isn't a promise to be interested in every comment equally, nor to pretend to be; nor is it to imply that there are not differences between the informed and the uninformed or even the pertinent and the impertinent. (Nor, needless to say, is it carte blanche to trolls or even lapses of (n)etiquette.) What it means is that if I think you're saying something irrelevant, that I just don't get, or for that matter (not that it's happened so far, but a glance through comments on other blogs makes me shudder sometimes) something downright rude, I will say so clearly, and not imply it. And if you think I've missed your point, you may feel free to clarify.
The take-away is, if you feel like commenting, for heaven's sake please do. I genuinely want this. In fact I would go so far as to say that for me the blog only gets really interesting in the comments. The more I have a sense of exactly who I am writing to, the better I write, and the better I think. The posts themselves are often mere journalism. The typeface is bigger, so they have to keep their hair combed and mind their manners. The comments are the fine print--the details. And you know who's there.
This pertains to any post, no matter when it was posted.
Now that I've said it, I'm realizing I'll probably have some cause to regret it.... Do I really have the guts to click "post"? Let's find out.


  1. Hi sweetie. I just wanted you to know that I was here! Visiting you in "virtual land" and checking out your blog. Its beautiful, by the way (visually)--i remember that post card...bombed out london...you have as your profile picture. I dont have anything substantive to say about your post. I was happy to see your thoughts. They sounded like you. I didnt follow several of the references but I dont mind :). Thanks for being you out in the world--in this form, in all forms.

  2. Good Evening, I am the guy at theontologicalboy.blogspot.com. I see you have my blog listed. Every once in a while I do get a referral from your site. Thanks. I have read a few of your postings and indeed I have enjoyed what I read, but, My God, you are as prolific as I and it's rather overwhelming. I did manage to read some of your drafts on Platonism, though the font is small, and, unfortunately, when I tried to download them some administrator asked for money, of which I have little. Anyway, I was wondering just why you have my blog listed. I do call myself a Platonist and I have written quite a bit about Nargarjuna, that mad Buddhist philosopher, whom I love, but my ideas seem far from yours. Like you I am not afraid of the Christian religion. Still, for all that, my take on it all is not like yours. Except that we are both in it for the pleasure of the word. Whatever, I just put up a piece about the bare particular, which I wrote in response to your article about Badiou and also some other things I read of yours. If this idea interests you I would enjoy a give and take. I do hope I have sent the email to the right address; I don't understand The Library Thing. And I couldn't find your name. I am Gary Smith; glad to meet you.

  3. Hi Gary,

    Pleased to meet you, and welcome. I have read a good many of your posts, but as they are mostly untitled, I don't know that I can refer to any of them except as "the one with that photo of..." No, come to think of it, that won't really help either.

    But I have read at least one thing by you on Nagarjuna (in fact it may have been that way that I found your blog), and one or two on Graham Harman. Surely you are exaggerating in comparing my volume of work to yours, though. Not only have you been at this game longer than I, you get something up every couple of days, I think. I am nowhere near that frequent.

    You write:

    > I do call myself a Platonist
    > and I have written quite a bit about Nargarjuna, that mad Buddhist
    > philosopher, whom I love, but my ideas seem far from yours.

    I have actually wondered about whether this is so. You have a style and voice I savor, but it is full of idiosyncratic angles I have yet to unriddle, including, I am chagrined to say, The Boy himself. But don't feel obliged to provide me an Ontological Boy for Dummies decoder key. In any case, I have many, many blogs in my blog list, and would have to excise 90% of them if i restricted them to ones I "agree" with. The sine qua non for me is not doctrine, as you probably have discerned, but the spirit in which one pursues the inquiry. I genuinely believe in the examined life; I have a smattering of learning, that "dangerous thing," which has passed for erudition on a startling number of occasions, all of which confirms my suspicions of the decline of academia; but I actually believe that the one thing needful is not book-larnin', but, well, eros-- and in this,at least, I think we are agreed.

    You mention being asked for *money* upon trying to download some of my writing? I hope not. What I have put up on Scribd.com is, or ought to be, there for the taking. If you can tell me what happened, I would like to correct it if possible.

    I will be looking over at your post, and will see if I can come up with something credible to say in response.

  4. You write:

    “You write:

    > I do call myself a Platonist
    > and I have written quite a bit about Nargarjuna, that mad Buddhist
    > philosopher, whom I love, but my ideas seem far from yours.

    I have actually wondered about whether this is so. You have a style and voice … (that) is full of idiosyncratic angles … (and) I have yet to unriddle ... The Boy himself. But don't feel obliged to provide me an Ontological Boy for Dummies decoder key.” (It seems that cutting that up has made it sound rather blunt; while, in fact, you seem rather pleasant,)

    I’m afraid that everything I write is one more attempt at a decoder key, mainly for my dummy self. I too am trying to understand this One that I see all through the history of philosophy and religion. He is not my literary creation. As for whether or not I am a Platonist, that is a fair question, but once again I am even more afraid that I shall be hard put to finally prove it. It seems to me that claiming to be a Platonist is like claiming to be a Christian; by which I mean that history has shown us that every type of belief imaginable has claimed to find grounds for itself in those sacred texts. Still, undaunted, I shall try.

    In the classical debate between nominalists and realists (which is not the same as between idealists and realists) I am solidly on the side of the realists. It is the question of whether or not universals exist. I speak constantly of the Forms. Universals exist. To believe that then requires that a whole slew of other beliefs about connectors and quantifiers follow. The Platonist walks about in that teeming place, which the nominalists call a jungle, a slum, a circus, a bad dream, even a museum of death. I walk the walk.

    One other thing that “makes” me a Platonist is that I feel the passion that is so blindingly described in the Phaedrus, and I try to use every bit of rhetorical art I can manage in order to write it up. I am certainly not alone in that.

    It has been said that the divinity of the Romantics is the Fair Maiden. She is Nature, the beauty and the horror of it. The divinity of Greece and the Italian Renaissance is the boy. Surely a Platonist, it seems to me, would be more with the boy than the maiden. Such a classicist worshiping the maiden feels rather odd.

    So, a belief in universals (not concepts) and following the classical, Apollonian Boy (not watery nymphs) are two of the main ideas constantly roaming around in my mind and my groin that “make” me a Platonist. (By the way, I also think that that aristocratic, Greek Beautiful Boy was the model for what became the Buddha, after Alexander's insurgency into India.)

    But maybe you were really questioning my love of Nagarjuna and I missed your point entirely. And did you mean idiotic angels instead of idiosyncratic angles? Or idio-socratic angling? Whatever, I would like for this conversation to continue.

  5. Phaedrus is hands-down my favorite dialogue.
    I have more to say but will put it in it's own post. This may take some time, but I am glad to have opened this exchange.

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  7. I just discovered your blog, and am enjoying it. Feel free to check and link to my blog if it all interest you (it seems we have similar metaphysical sensibilities).

  8. ted,

    Thanks and welcome. Your blog does show a non-trivial overlap in interests. Consider yourself added.