Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's BĂȘte Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Sunday, July 31, 2005


[UPDATE: Corrective footnote at bottom, same day, 5:55 p.m.]

[UPDATE 2, 11:00 PM, same day: I *really* regret lumping Joshua's arguing style with that of Republicans. Joshua's not a freakazoid shameless brazen relentless liar who supports murderous regimes and policies. Not all Republicans are liars either, but the leaders are, and a bad, bad percentage of the members. My apologies.]

A reader writes regarding my exchange with Joshua Clover, that it was lame of me to complain of his snideness when I was being snide too. True. Lame.

More precisely the reader writes that I started out by telling Joshua he was wrong about a couple things, and it was BS of me to then complain about how he responded. The lamitude of my snideness I'll cop to, completely. The other part of my complaint is more complicated. If Joshua had agreed with any part of my criticisms, I had hoped for acknowledgment of such. Instead, he got in to what it might be unfair of me to call "throw down" mode, picking out what he perceived to be weak spots in what I had written and ignoring the rest. He eventually wrote and urged me not to worry about what I said, that if he disagreed he would say so. I was cool with that, but it's also very true that my preferred mode of back-and-forth is to acknowledge other people's points. Lots of people don't prefer that; by doing it "their way," they impose their way on everybody else. But I want them to do it my way! Friends with whom I have discussed this have pointed out that by claiming that my way is the more moral way, I am making a power move and attempting to move someone off their preferred footing. True. I also know from having witnessed it many times that the "throw down" method often succeeds in knocking "mutual acknowledgers" off their footing, even in intimidating them into silence. So either way, a struggle over mode of discourse is a struggle for power. I do think that honey attracts bees and vinegar attracts sourpusses. I know myself to be a sourpuss, but I prefer to imagine the mutual pollenation of consciousness through the good-will synthesis of mutual understanding. I fail to live my ideals, over and over. I regret if what I've written can be taken to imply that Joshua lacks good faith or good will. He's just a vinegar guy more than a honey guy.

The reader also wondered why it would have been "mean" of me to talk about Joshua being a professor, and if I weren't thereby betraying myself to be anti-intellectual. I didn't make myself clear. The admission of "meanness" should have been accompanied by one of "stupidity." The "meanness" came from relishing the irony that Joshua is a college professor at a state school in California, supported by Hollywood tax dollars, and he was inveighing against the Dems for buying into the image factory just like any old pro-capitalist. This relishing of someone else's contradictions and compromises is stupid because I am no less implicated and maybe moreso -- as a poverty pimp who earns a paycheck as a subcontractor from the ameliorative state -- in Uncle Sam's murderousness; this was the motivation for posting on my day job, which I had never before mentioned on this blog*. Uncle Sam, he takes care of most of his family; at least he has so far; I know that Bush's policies work toward the impoverishment of most of Uncle's nephews and nieces, and Bush may get his way. But anti-intellectual? Hell no. I like me some books, I'm psyched that me and my parents and their parents and their parents went to college (a great-great-great helped found a college); I'm psyched I grew up around the books that a great-grandparent had collected; I'm psyched about receiving all these privileges. I lament that not everybody is privy to such, and I do believe that the university system (at least in the US; can't say about elsewhere) is implicated in the perpetuation of class division; also, that university teaching can help people develop critical thinking. Ain't no thang wrong with directing some of that critical thinking at the university itself; and I doubt my correspondent intended to imply that all intellectual goods come from the university, or that only college kids (and former) can be intellectuals.

I'm hoping that this marks the end of "Joshua Clover Week" here at Utopian Turtletop, but as I like to quote Fats Waller saying, one never knows, do one?

*CLARIFICATION/CORRECTION: I had mentioned, once, that I worked at a shelter in the early '90s, but I hadn't mentioned my current job. I had thought about talking about having worked in the poverty biz during the Smooth Jazz discussion of some months ago, because it was in homeless programs that I first got hip to Smooth Jazz, hanging out with middle aged homeless African American men who listened to it. But for some reason I decided not to talk about it then.
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