Monday, July 21, 2008

Another border skirmish in the war between men and women

Over at Larvatus Prodeo there is debate raging on several different threads about various things to do with sex, gender and feminism. Assorted male commenters who have not done the reading are doing what such commenters usually do and instructing the female commenters (who have done the reading) on what feminism is, what women are like, and how to define such terms as 'patriarchy' and 'the male gaze'. Most of the definitions they offer appear to be matters of personal opinion; most of their instructions about what women are like appear to be based on particular personal acquaintances.

The terms 'patriarchy' and 'the male gaze' are cornerstones of feminist theory that have, over the years, built up quite precise yet complex meanings within feminist (yes I'll say it, because it's exactly what I mean) discourse. Those who have been following the debates in feminist and gender theory since the 1970s, or who came to it later but have done the reading, have very detailed understandings of how these terms are used within that conceptual framework.

Now someone's turned up observing, correctly, that it's impossible to have a discussion en blog about things to do with sex, gender and feminism because people always end up getting heated and unreasonable.

I wonder why that could possibly be.

88 comments:

lucy tartan said...

I did observe that thread. The crap side of LP - drags on for days, painful, and net gains zero (unless we count receiving confirmation of whose posts to skip in future counts as a step forward.)

lucy tartan said...

I apologise for the illiteracy of that comment.

Doorbitch says lvfgummk which is a good approximation of how my eyeballs feel this morning

Pavlov's Cat said...

No, no, I got it first go.

The bit in parentheses is particularly pertinent. If there's one thing I do love, it's a silver lining.

Anonymous said...

Why could that be?

Because most blokes (myself included) get very insecure when their assumptions and blind spots are challenged. The insecurity is then sublimated as anger and a loss of reason.

David

tigtog said...

That's not really a good enough reason to refrain from challenging assumptions though, is it?

I don't think that's what you were actually arguing of course, but just understanding why there is a negative reaction isn't especially productive.

Anonymous said...

I've checked out LP on and off for a year or two. It seems to be mostly frequented by boring, repetitive, not terribly progressive or perceptive men. Intellectual it ain't. At least not in the way I define the term. It's all a bit tawdry and sad. Boganish, even.

Oh, and it is generally deeply misogynist in ways most of those who post their wouldn't even understand.

Fyodor said...

"Now someone's turned up observing, correctly, that it's impossible to have a discussion en blog about things to do with sex, gender and feminism because people always end up getting heated and unreasonable.

I wonder why that could possibly be."

Dunno 'bout that. I think it's more correct to observe that it's possible for people to get heated and unreasonable about ANYTHING en blog. And I'm not saying that like it's a bad thing.

Rayedish said...

I think its sad that some of the people involved won't see it as a 'border skirmish'. They are just stating their opinion, and they get along with wimmen and what is the problem?

Mummy/Crit said...

it's a funny thing about the internet and its anonymity... bakc in the mid 90s i was on a mailing list that was essentially a big chat forum. regularly we would have what was referred to as 'the GGD pt(whstever) and people would get very intrnse. of course we were all young and uni students. i think for a lot of us it was a useful process part of figuring out what we thought on that (and various other) topic(s). the anonymity gave people space to think out loud, and the non-interrupt nature of written discourse meant that people got to feel like they could say their bit without being shouted down, which isn't how it would be in a face to face discussion...but you know all that already, it was a rhetorical queation, right? the crucial bit is about everyone feeling like they get heard. sorry about the tyops, baby related.

Pavlov's Cat said...

What an odd thread this is. I suppose that was inevitable given the topic.

David and Fyodor -- all I meant by that rhetorical question at the end of the post was that it always floors me when information on a topic is freely available and yet some of those arguing don't see any need to avail themselves of it and become better informed about the topic. And that that makes some of us a bit cross, especially when there's a gender agenda, as here.

Tigtog -- I can't work out who your comment is addressed to! What's not a good enough reason etc?

Anon, I think 'boganish' only applies to the very bottom end, so to speak, of commenters at LP -- and I still like it for the actual bloggers and posts, most of which are really good, especially when the people there write posts about their own specialist subjects. What I dislike is the inevitability of the way that commenters of intelligence and goodwill habitually get howled down and crowded out by bullies, arseholes and nutters. It's predictable but depressing, and God knows LP isn't the only place it happens.

Rayedish, spot on.

Mummy/crit, yes, I perceive infant effects there. It's a bit like that software that tells you when your cat has been walking on the keyboard again by analysing the (non-)pattern of keystrokes and sends you a message saying 'Cat-like typing detected.'

tigtog said...

Sorry Pav - I was responding directly to David, and his explanation that challenging assumptions makes insecure men angry and irrational.

I'm not doubting the explanation, but I'm still wondering what the point of mentioning it is unless it's meant to argue that we shouldn't challenge assumptions? Which strikes me as very possibly not what David actually meant.

Anonymous said...

tigtog - You're right, I don't think that we should avoid challenging each others' assumptions.

I must admit, I hadn't detected a particularly misogynist tone at LP (which probably won't surprise anyone), but if you want the unvarnished, highly-detectable blokey discussion, look here: http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2309262.htm

It's like a bunch of 15 year old boys. (From when I was 15. I don't know what they're like now, but I doubt if things have changed much in 40 years.)

David

Pavlov's Cat said...

I don't think of LP (insofar as it's a sufficiently homogeneous entity to make meaningful generalisations about, ie not far) as misogynist at all, actually. It is certainly more male-dominated than it used to be; a number of the female bloggers who were on the team and posted regularly when I first began to read it in 2005 are no longer posting there, and ditto commenters. These women are still among my own favourite bloggers. And I know of at least half a dozen really excellent women bloggers/commenters who don't go there any more specifically because they are sick of the way that men (in particular) argue in the comments threads. This often consists of simply ignoring posts/comments by women, and the culprits there are by no means always the ones you might predict. It's clear that some of them don't even know they're doing it, a fact that goes straight to the heart of the way hegemony works.

Fyodor said...

"David and Fyodor -- all I meant by that rhetorical question at the end of the post was that it always floors me when information on a topic is freely available and yet some of those arguing don't see any need to avail themselves of it and become better informed about the topic. And that that makes some of us a bit cross, especially when there's a gender agenda, as here."

If that was your meaning, it wasn't at all clear from the text I referred to above, which rather implies that there's something particularly heating and unreasonating about sex, gender and feminism.

Maybe there is, but my (implied) point was that blogging tends to blow out of proportion the mildest and most trivial of subjects. That is, it's not the subject of discussion that drives this unreasonable behaviour, IMO, but the effect of the medium in attracting commenters with extreme views and influencing how they communicate those views. Additionally, as you're no doubt aware, one's crossness in response to the behaviour of others is as much (if not more) about one's own hot buttons as it is theirs.

On the issue of whether arguers should inform themselves on a topic, I disagree with the assumption here (and there) that a piece of jargon/technical vocabulary WAS misunderstood due to an unwillingess to "do the reading". I don't think the theory was misunderstood at all; it was being challenged. Strangest of all, instead of engaging with that challenge directly, the arguers on the other side vaulted into an Olympian meta-discussion (and, in some cases, meta-meta-discussion) of assumed knowledge. Very interesting dynamics.

Pavlov's Cat said...

blogging tends to blow out of proportion the mildest and most trivial of subjects.

I'd agree with that; we are surrounded by ghastly examples. I think with blogging as with dinner parties one ought to be warned against discussing sex, religion or politics. Unfortunately about 97% of blogging is about one or more of those things.

Additionally, as you're no doubt aware, one's crossness in response to the behaviour of others is as much (if not more) about one's own hot buttons as it is theirs.

Guilty.

Obviously I don't agree about the last bit of your comment, though. At most I'd say something was being confidently challenged that had been, at best, imperfectly understood. I was however completely wrong about (at least) one thing: the challenger in question obviously had done the reading or he wouldn't have brought the 'gaze' into the thread, from which, until that point, it had been (mercifully, with hindsight) absent.

Fyodor said...

"I think with blogging as with dinner parties one ought to be warned against discussing sex, religion or politics. Unfortunately about 97% of blogging is about one or more of those things."

Yah. The good stuff. Even when it's not about one or more of those things...it is.

I've never understood the dinner-party rule, BTW - I've certainly never been to a good dinner party which didn't discuss one or more (often at the same time) of those topics.

"fubnoigz"

lucy tartan said...

One thing one should not discuss at dinner parties is whether pirate ship doors are in fact pirate ship doors or actually doors about some other boring kind of ship. It can get really ugly.

I hope you're not including me in either side of that discussion fyodor, I was just trying to help. Especially not on the Olympian side (I can't actually tell who you mean when you say 'those on the other side' - people have names for a reason!) Truly I was trying to help. Few things irritate me more than a self-selected few talking over the top of the heads of others who happen not to share the few's assumptions, and it was clear to me at least that not everyone in that thread was talking about the same thing.

I actually should have stayed out of it though. I haven't the time to get into discussions of that type.

Anonymous said...

Misogynist is obviously - at best - inadequate shorthand to describe what I meant. The language itself is inherently imprecise and unable to help delineate even the barest configurations of misogyny, let alone its interacting ecology. Which is why we resort to and love fiction, no?

Nevertheless, smug, male-dominated blogs like LP or the truly disgusting Club Troppo - whose posters and commenters routinely ignore or ridicule pertinent comments by stray women which invariably transgress narrow gender-political-class boundaries - are profoundly conformist, dull, and unenlightening. And thus by definition are little more than deeply depressing.

Anonymous said...

Some thoughts, felt gently..

[Even those first few words would signal this comment from a male - happy to be corrected (as we males have learner plates on, mostly cum always, when dealing with women, and don't we all know that*) - because, on the assumption generalisations can live, men would absorb those few words upfront and continue without a second thought yet women would feel them at least with some trepidation.(?)]

In this sensitive state here on this blog - attractive and difficult the same - a conundrum thereby exists by mere placing of comment. ..And that, too, was a male thing to say, or do. We males just don't have easy access to women-speak, on blogs. We can speak in those ways, yet it takes time (generalising again) and we don't always have it. This can be mind time, work time, emotional time.. the things we're not altogether alone in failing in yet the lovely comments above and the history so many contributors to blogs share which understand this do give heart and gentle the way.

My point then is that central to this dialogue is "blog". Rather, discourse has occurred within the frame of "blog" as though every contributor accepts that frame as standard. It's not so.

Filling that out, a particular blog to one may be very different to another, whomever they may be, whatever gender or other, and may change as we ourselves change.

But the thing, pushing on if I may, is that "blog" is but a part of this mad and wondrous thing called internet. So these thoughts seek to share that perspective: that the internet is madly and wondrously different, and not necessarily the place to define people. ..So to say too, defining peoples' beliefs or stances as we all walk the path realistically outside of it. Nor does it define each contributor's knowledge or experience.

The internet is a brilliant place to share ideas. That will also involve the crunching of heads, a cauldron, pestle - by that definition we can has heads stuck in that, of our own doing.

Cheers and go the Wallabies!

- Robert

Fyodor said...

"One thing one should not discuss at dinner parties is whether pirate ship doors are in fact pirate ship doors or actually doors about some other boring kind of ship. It can get really ugly."

I am so with you on that one. Oh, hang on...you mean ugly in a bad way?

I would love to be at a dinner party debating pirate ships. It's one of the reasons why blogging is so appealing: it is extraordinarily difficult to broach the subject of pirate ship doors successfully in your typical bus stop/cafe/water cooler conversation. For example, "galleon or galleass - what's your poison?" just doesn't get one anywhere IRL, but blogdom is full of crushing bores as nutty as me.

"I hope you're not including me in either side of that discussion fyodor, I was just trying to help. Especially not on the Olympian side (I can't actually tell who you mean when you say 'those on the other side' - people have names for a reason!) Truly I was trying to help."

Lucy, she is here to help. OK, fair cop, guv'nor: I avoided names to protect the guilty. Let me now mire myself in a cross-blog meta-stoushing flame war. The Olympian vaulting began with Mme. Pav losing her temper @ #27 and then really kicked into gear when Klaus K engaged the Theory Drive @ #44, going right over Andrew's head. It reached escape velocity with Klaus K again @ #58 and was given a meta-boost by Laura @ #71 with the Mulvey article. This was, of course, very helpful in demonstrating the theory of the "male gaze" in action in feminist screen theory, but not at all helpful in engaging with Andrew at his somewhat Stygian level and HIS interpretation of "male gaze". Yes, you were being helpful by providing new information, but it was inevitable given his limitations that Andrew was not going to be able to keep up with the discussion conducted thereafter, at a fairly high (for drive-by commenters) theoretical level by Mme Pav, Klaus K, Fine, Comrade Hogan etc. Hence the frustration expressed by Darlene, who is generally a fine moderatrix (though it wasn't her post) and able to engage with people at different levels but seems to get very uncomfortable with discussions conducted in academese, probably quite rightly. I don't think any of it was particularly offensive, and I don't think anyone partaking was malicious; it was just another instance of miscommunication between interlocutors operating at different levels of erudition and intellect.

"Few things irritate me more than a self-selected few talking over the top of the heads of others who happen not to share the few's assumptions, and it was clear to me at least that not everyone in that thread was talking about the same thing."

You must get very irritated indeed with blogging, then, as I see this happening all the time, even when I'm contributing to it. Unfortunately, like any conversation, not everyone can be as engaged in a blog discussion as one might like.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Of course they are pirate ships. And I've only seen the photos. Pfft.

I lost my temper at #27 (quite badly, I now see) not because Andrew was not understanding, but because Andrew was being an arse. And still is. And he still doesn't understand that he's being an arse, and a staggeringly offensive arse at that, because he is (clearly) smack bang in the centre of the blindness to his own privilege that is the chief marker of the privileged.

You might argue that, as someone with more knowledge of the topic, I too am the privileged in this particular context, in which case I would reply that I do not care. You might also argue that Andrew isn't being an offensive arse on purpose, in which case I would reply that I don't care about that either.

*Gets red-carded for abandoning logic and fairness*

Andrew is a symptom, not a cause, and his presence on that thread has reminded me all too horribly clearly of why women are still second-class citizens in 2008. Which is why I lost my temper.

klaus k said...

I'm sorry, 'engaged the Theory Drive'? Which theory, exactly? Neither of the comments cited use anything more than everyday definitions of terms. Is it because I used the word 'difference'? Because Andrew used it first, and I was just expanding on the two different senses which he did, and what I thought was wrong with them.

If you don't like my style, that's fine. I'm also willing to accept that I wasn't helping facilitate discussion.

Pavlov's Cat said...

I'm not sure that facilitating discussion is the commenter's role anyway, is it?

And this may get me into trouble, but while I do try to write accessibly when blog-commentin' myself, I also don't see why one is in any way morally obliged to keep one's contributions to a blog thread down at the lowest common denominator of familiarity with and understanding of the topic. Naturally one despises people who are completely oblivious to other commenters or who, worse, use their specialist knowledge to deliberately exclude or make a fool of other commenters, but those two things aside, why not?

And why the hell doesn't this ever come up as an issue with other specialist topics like environmentalism, economics, sociology etc etc etc? I'm often struggling to follow Robert Merkel, for example, but I think his posts are terrific and I would far rather learn from him than have him talk down to me in diluted baby-steps.*

Darlene herself in her usual straightforward way saw this anomaly and mentioned it as such in one of her later comments: somehow it's always the hoomanities boffins that get the insults for so-called intellectual snobbery. Pffft.

*Apologies for the mixed metaphor.

Mindy said...

It's obvious, even to the most biased observer, that they are pirate ships. Anyone who claims otherwise is obviously a charlatan and in need to a good [insert verb here].

Right, there's the inner RWDB mollified for the moment. I had a quite enjoyable time reading this thread and then the LP thread. I too could have strangled Smug Andrew as I like to think of him, and Laura I think you did help. PC, even when you get angry you do it in a really classy way which I will always admire. Being the type who become speechless with fury myself, I really like it when someone else lets go with both barrels in elegant language.

Mindy said...

Obviously I'm in need of a good editor. That comment should have read

"Anyone who claims otherwise is obviously a charlatan and in need of a good [insert verb here]."

Pavlov's Cat said...

"Anyone who claims otherwise is obviously a charlatan and in need of a good [insert verb here]."

Indeed. And there are the pirates, ready to hand.

I'm sorry, I would have liked to have put that another way.

PC, even when you get angry you do it in a really classy way which I will always admire.

Oh, bless.

Fyodor said...

"I lost my temper at #27 (quite badly, I now see) not because Andrew was not understanding, but because Andrew was being an arse. And still is. And he still doesn't understand that he's being an arse, and a staggeringly offensive arse at that, because he is (clearly) smack bang in the centre of the blindness to his own privilege that is the chief marker of the privileged."

Maybe Andrew IS an arse and/or behaves like one, but that's not why you said you were angry, which had something to do with the subject being particularly heating and unreasonating and certain people (let's call them "Andrew")not having done the reading, not being up with the technical vocabulary, und so weite.

I also disagree that what he said was "staggeringly offensive". That's a pretty big call to make given the competition in blogging.

"Andrew is a symptom, not a cause, and his presence on that thread has reminded me all too horribly clearly of why women are still second-class citizens in 2008. Which is why I lost my temper."

Well, yairs. He pushed your buttons just by being himself.

Incidentally, I'm not criticising you for getting angry. As Mindy noted, it's great fun to watch you in full flight. I do find it surprising, however, to see you so vexed by a fairly harmless twit. What you say about Andrew-as-symptom is quite telling, I think, about pre-existing assumptions and attitudes that you might have brought to the discussion, that have absolutely nothing to do with Andrew's relative arsity.

"I also don't see why one is in any way morally obliged to keep one's contributions to a blog thread down at the lowest common denominator of familiarity with and understanding of the topic."

Absolutely, but I don't think the issue is one of moral obligation. If you want to engage at a particular level, fine. But it's pointless getting worked up over the unwillingness or inability of others to match you at that level.

" And why the hell doesn't this ever come up as an issue with other specialist topics like environmentalism, economics, sociology etc etc etc?"

Ha! This issue comes up ALL THE TIME in all sorts of technical discussions, and I mean "technical" in its most catholic sense. I know this because I've censored myself on numerous occasions rather than use a term that won't be understood as I mean it.

Mindy said...

But Fyodor, so many of us know so many 'Andrews' it just gets depressing when you find that despite your best efforts to avoid them, they keep cropping up and have the gall to post comments on blog threads. I mean really, the hide of some people!

Pavlov's Cat said...

Heh.

I think, children, that we have come to the middle of a dark wood, where the straight way is lost. (Sorry, I can't help myself.)

Srsly, there are too many things to untangle here. But can I say again before I abandon this conversation to its fate that I think I have expressed myself badly about the getting heated and unreasonable thingy and I don't think I meant what I think Fyodor thinks I meant. (You can see why I'm not inclined to sort this out, can't you.)

Again: I was cross not with Andrew per se but with what he and his comments indicated to me about the state of the world. Also he did not get staggeringly offensive until comment #96, I think it was, the one about rumpy-pumpy with the one-legged woman in a cave har har har. It would take a whole nother, quite long, blog post to unpack exactly what is staggeringly offensive about this to women (one-legged or otherwise) but trust me, it is.

Also, finally, what Mindy said about critical mass. There are too many of him, and they impinge on one's delicate sensibilities every day.

*Clutches pearls*

Fyodor said...

"But Fyodor, so many of us know so many 'Andrews' it just gets depressing when you find that despite your best efforts to avoid them, they keep cropping up and have the gall to post comments on blog threads. I mean really, the hide of some people!"

Oh, I know, I know. Blogging has really gone to the dogs since they let in the riff-raff in 2005.

*Clutches pearls*

That scored the first belly laugh of the day.

lucy tartan said...

*faints alternately on a sofa*

Fyodor said...

"I'm sorry, 'engaged the Theory Drive'? Which theory, exactly? Neither of the comments cited use anything more than everyday definitions of terms. Is it because I used the word 'difference'? Because Andrew used it first, and I was just expanding on the two different senses which he did, and what I thought was wrong with them.

If you don't like my style, that's fine. I'm also willing to accept that I wasn't helping facilitate discussion."

KK, apologies for not replying earlier - got distracted.

By "Theory Drive" in reference to your comment @ #44, I was referring to your mode and manner - i.e. that of the cultstud academic ponderously condescending to the unenlightened* - not any particular theory, though clearly you were referring to the theory which Andrew found so confronting.

Your hectoring response [You want to hold him "to account" for his failure to "examine" his "privilege"? In which lifetime did you think he'd manage that?] to his banalities was hilarious, given the context of his limitations. Also, @ #43 when he used the phrase, "viva le difference" [fully sic], I thought it obvious that Andrew was referring to his desire not to shut up other people, not to claim his position required no defence, as you implied at #44 and again at #58.

*No, I don't like your style.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Miss Tartan, it was that indelicate word "belly", wasn't it.

*Scuttles off to find smelling salts*

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
tigtog said...

Anonymous coward.

klaus k said...

Thanks tigtog, although anonymity is not something I can 'hold someone to account' for: after all, I'm not commenting under my own name. It's not the first time somebody has been disgusted with the way I write, and it won't be the last I'm sure. I used to comment under my own name, until certain other commentors began to single me out every time I posted something, no matter how little or how much I wrote, or on what topic. I didn't want the ugliness of their responses, and my own tendency to get drawn in when upset, to haunt me in real life in the future. Hence I took on the name of someone who I find awesome (verging, at times, on terrifying).

I tend to disagree with particular things people say, rather than how they say it, or who they are. There are some commentors who I am a bit sensitised to, though, I'll admit that.

lucy tartan said...

oh, lord. Sorry you had to read that Klaus. Anonymous is obviously having a bad day, worse than usual perhaps.

klaus k said...

One thing I've learned about the internet: anonymous is always having a bad day.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Yes, KK, I'm sorry you had to read it too, and I'm particularly sorry for having inadvertently hosted it. People 'know' Fyodor the same way they 'know' you, but Anonymous is, erm, unknowable. FWIW I always enjoy your comments, substantial and written in good faith as they unfailingly are, and more often than not they give me a new perspective on whatever is being discussed.

The offending comment contravenes every single modest request above the comments box -- it's anonymous and hostile and malicious, so I am now going to remove it, as threatened. And lest anyone cry 'Censorship' can I just point out that censorship is something the state does. What I do is editing and housekeeping.

klaus k said...

Well it's your house to keep, Dr Cat, so by all means. And thanks for the kind words.

Thanks also to fyodor for the restrained and reasonable critique. I think you have a good point about my responses to Andrew on that thread. As for my style, well, I'll work on it!

Fyodor said...

"Thanks also to fyodor for the restrained and reasonable critique. I think you have a good point about my responses to Andrew on that thread. As for my style, well, I'll work on it!"

That's very generous of you, KK, as I could have been far more restrained (and thus less antagonistic towards you). However, you did ask me the question, so I answered it truthfully.

I should also clarify that I'm not disgusted by your style. I find it condescending at times and prone to the over-articulation that I associate with academese, but it's far from "disgusting". There are far worse afflictions in blogdom than an (IMO) over-academic style, and on the positive side of the ledger I do find you reasonable, polite and to the point, which raises you above 93% of the blogging population. Including me, if I'm being honest.

P.S. could someone give me the gist of Noni Mouse's comment? I feel like I snuck out to get a choctop just before the really gory bit in the fillum.

klaus k said...

Much appreciated, fyodor. You might have guessed by now that 'disgust' entered the equation with the deleted comment, and I'm certainly not trying to attribute that sentiment to you.

Mindy said...

Me too Fyodor. Damn real life getting in the way of reading blog threads.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Sorry about that folks, but I know the feeling of having to look at online insults and not being able to do anything about them and it isn't nice, so I removed them. Noni Mouse was sounding off about KK's style and attitude (quite inaccurately on both counts IMHO) in his comments at LP in a particularly sour, intemperate, personal and, it seemed to me, self-revealing fashion, and did in fact begin with some self-beating-up, from which I conclude that Noni Mouse is indeed female, and probably an unhappy university dropout to whom some unpleasant academic was once nasty. Or more than once.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of condescension.

I don't mind condescension with a generous dollop or even a measly smidgen of flair or wit.

But it's its combination with stolid, graceless, pretentious, tortured prose (and the thinking that underpins it) that is the killer.

I refer you to Don Watson and his every utterance and written word.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Sheesh, Noni, is that you again? Might I refer you once more to the comments policy, such as it is, above the comments box?

Don Watson is someone I know and admire very much. I also think he is very funny. And I'm not at all sure what planet you are posting from (it can't be a very happy-making one; you sound pretty miserable to me) or why you are littering up my blog with your little mouse droppings.

But I must thank you for that one, as you have just broken my all-time 'numbers of comments in a thread' record.

klaus k said...

I liked Watson's 'Caledonia Australis', and enjoyed what I heard of him reading from his travel book about the US a little while back on Radio National.

What I find interesting about Noni Mouse is that there is a certain reticence about out and out insulting me personally, even though I am the purported cause of her exile. Instead, the insult is bracketed, and the main point made is about form and delivery. It's a curious kind of aggression. What Noni seems to want to say, but can't quite, is that I write this way because I am stupid, or inferior. I wonder why it is important that the symptom be the substantive point of disagreement, and the cause gets put in parentheses?

It leads me to believe that Dr Cat is right: you dislike a certain 'type', and my style triggers the association. In other words, it is your problem more than it's mine. That's what I liked about fyodor's comments: they pointed to my actual failures, not to some general failure in HIS life, of which I am only a representative.

Fyodor said...

"That's what I liked about fyodor's comments: they pointed to my actual failures, not to some general failure in HIS life, of which I am only a representative."

Again, that's very generous of you, Klaus K, as my failure to shag Nastassja Kinski is deeply troubling to me, on many levels, and you're a constant reminder of my inadequacy. The other stuff was just a smokescreen to hide my inner turmoil. Sry, mkay?

"But I must thank you for that one, as you have just broken my all-time 'numbers of comments in a thread' record."

Yairs. I thought we must be closing rapidly on the record.

Anonymous said...

Well you can close ranks with the likes of Klaus whoever all you like but my point is his or any blogger you like to name's portenous mouse droppings, when challenged, hardly compare to even one sentence of Don Watson's.

Why is that, do you think?

Noni Mouse said...

Klaus K wrote:

"and enjoyed what I heard of him reading from his travel book about the US a little while back on Radio National."

You see, it is this sort of thing from The Pretentious One and his ilk that makes me feel ill.

If you think Don Watson's brilliant, profound, sublime, discursive latest work is "a travel book" then you are living the intellectual life of a flea (with apologies to my third cousins, insects) while self-deludingly condescending to all other mortals.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Good God, are there two of you?

So badly and ambiguously written was the original comment about Watson that I thought he was being trashed as well. So whoever you are, before you start rubbishing other people's writing, I suggest very strongly that you look to your own. It's self-conscious, overblown and overworked all to hell, for a start.

I have no idea what you mean when you use the word 'pretentious'. What exactly do you think Klaus K has pretensions to? Being an intellectual? He is. Therefore they are not pretensions.

Assuming that 'travel book' is an insult suggests a narrow and insular view of writing. Travel writing, I would venture to suggest, is an honourable and noble genre practised by many great writers over the centuries. Have you read any Richard Burton (the explorer not the actor)? Paul Theroux? MFK Fisher?

If you hate bloggers as much as that, then there is, I suggest, an extremely simple solution.

And if you want the right to have anything you say taken seriously, then the only thing for it is to say who you are. Sorry.

klaus k said...

My understanding from what I heard was that it was travel writing. As Dr Cat suggests, that is not an insult, and certainly doesn't exclude it from being "brilliant, profound, sublime, discursive" or a lot of other things. But I haven't read it, so I couldn't say for certain whether it's any of those things at all.

Peter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pavlov's Cat said...

Heh.

This one, mainly.

It's still going, too, I see -- albeit a tad onanistically.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Peter, where'd you go?

That last comment of mine is in reply to a question, in a now-deleted comment, about the original LP thread that prompted the discussion. To which I provided a link.

This thread just gets weirder and weirder.

Peter said...

Sorry, I found it, so thought I should retract the question before anyone bothered. Too late. :(

Peter said...

Thanks for responding so quickly. I was imagining you checking on old posts only occasionally, but I suppose you get notified whenever anything happens.
Oh, now I have interrupted you again ...
Shutup Eccles, shutup!

Still, we are setting a nice new record.

Minnie said...

"I refer you to Don Watson and his every utterance and written word."

This is my original comment about Don Watson. I would love to hear how, as you say, it is ambiguous and badly written?

Anonymous said...

You are, as usual, disingenuous. I and presumably others do not know who Klaus or fyodor or tigtog are either. Duh.

Squeak said...

The explorer not the actor, eh. Good one. Merci.

I would rather have cited Herodotus, Charles Darwin, Robert Louis Stevenson, Hilaire Belloc, Joseph Conrad, Ryszard Kapuściński, Vikram Seth, Basho, and countless more of a far greater ilk than the writers you named.

Pavlov's Cat said...

"This is my original comment about Don Watson. I would love to hear how, as you say, it is ambiguous and badly written?"

It is ambiguous because of its context, in this case what went before it, which was all about bad writing. It would have ceased to be ambiguous if you had said 'by contrast' or 'this is how it's done', or some other such. It is badly written because it is ambiguous; you 'refer' the reader, but you do not say why. It is also hyperbolic, in its reference to Don's 'every utterance'; I beg leave to suggest that you have not in fact heard his every utterance.

"You are, as usual, disingenuous."

"As usual"? Show me another place where I have been disingenuous, and while you're about it I'd be interested to hear what you think 'disingenuous'means.

Klaus K, Tigtog and most of all Fyodor are people whose blog comments I have been reading for several years on dozens of different blogs; Fyodor in particular has so unique a style and take on the world that I would recognise his comments whether he signed them or not. I know what Klaus K does for a living, and where he lives, because he has freely offered this information in the course of his history of commenting here and elsewhere. I know Tigtog's real name and am a regular reader of her own blog.

They have all established online 'selves' over a long period of time. I have come to be confident that none of them use sockpuppets, and what they have to say will always be interesting, pertinent and courteous.

Your own comments here, on the other hand, have been rude, aggressive, resentful, miserable, blogger-hating and not very clearly thought through.

Minnie the Mouse said...

But your comments assume that you are some sort of centre of all knowledge and certitude.

How arrogant and delusional is that?

lucy tartan said...

person, go away now. Yer boring.

The only time I ever scored this many comments I had to give all of blogdom (as it was then constituted) a present in order to make it happen. To my lasting shame I forgot to give Fyodor his. It was a lovely horse, running through the fields.

Mousie said...

"It is ambiguous because of its context, in this case what went before it, which was all about bad writing. It would have ceased to be ambiguous if you had said 'by contrast' or 'this is how it's done', or some other such. It is badly written because it is ambiguous; you 'refer' the reader, but you do not say why. It is also hyperbolic, in its reference to Don's 'every utterance'; I beg leave to suggest that you have not in fact heard his every utterance."

I am not writing an essay for you to mark here. It is a conversation. You don't seem used to or comfortable with dealing with an adversarial adult who is not in the classroom, do you?

tigtog said...

You ask PC to explain how your comment was ambiguous and badly written, and then you berate her for doing as you asked?

Is there some contest running for Clueless Twerp of the Week, and is today is the deadline for entries? You're trying so damn hard.

Pavlov's Cat said...

"I am not writing an essay for you to mark here. It is a conversation. "You don't seem used to or comfortable with dealing with an adversarial adult who is not in the classroom, do you?"

Oh please, and me who's been adversarialising with my father for half a century, just for a start. I was answering your question, if you remember back that far.

And now ... what Laura said.

Pavlov's Cat said...

TT, heh. Comments crossed. Thanks for reinforcing the point.

Nemesis said...

I rest my case. All you can do tigtog, pc, and the rest of the usual gang is resort to abuse and the 'I am bored' trope. At least I am self-aware not piously and dully self-deluding. Must be the Freudian in me.

BTW, I do recommend Don Watson's beautifully written and observed American Journeys - and for the ugly writers among you, his two books on language and writing. Oh. and Confessions of a Bleeding Heart.

Study it, hearts.

Nemesis said...

Correction:

Recollections of a Bleeding Heart - though "confesssions" might have been more accurate a label.

klaus k said...

That's certainly an audacious comment, I'll give you credit for that. To presume to recommend reading after the way this thread has been proceeding. I was more likely to read Watson before you recommended him, to be frank.

Pavlov's Cat said...

There's only one person here who is resorting to abuse; the rest of us are just bemused.

And I think anyone who calls herself 'nemesis' needs to have a bit of a think about hubris, frankly. One more thing about TT, KK and Fyodor: they don't keep changing their names. Which is how one establishes a trustworthy online presence over time.

Re Don, Klaus K, I've read Caledonia Australis, Weasel Words, Recollections of a Bleeding Heart, and the Australian history that he wrote for kids some time in the mid-80s. They're all really good. Don't let this strange person put you off.

tigtog said...

Is anyone else, for no special reason, suddenly realising how little they've missed Jangari over at LP?

klaus k said...

Yes, 'Caledonia Australis' was very interesting and a pleasure to read, unlike much history writing, although I had to read it a little too hastily for my liking so I may return to it. I'm going to read 'Death Sentence' and 'Weasel Words' at some point after the thesis goes in. I've got a reading list a mile long, but they're on there.

Fyodor said...

"Well you can close ranks with the likes of Klaus whoever all you like but my point is his or any blogger you like to name's portenous mouse droppings, when challenged, hardly compare to even one sentence of Don Watson's.

Why is that, do you think?"

Because you're not as well-read as you think you are, and are thus easily impressed by those writers you like and prone to underrate those you know not. You also have a massive chip on your shoulder about your indifferent education and relative inarticulation, which manifests itself most starkly when you start fights with people more intelligent and/or erudite than you.

"Is anyone else, for no special reason, suddenly realising how little they've missed Jangari over at LP?"

I was going to go with Jinmaro et al, in the Blogging Room, with the half-educated bile-laden inferiority complex. As I remember she was also overfond of the polyjuice.

Weirder and weirder.

tigtog said...

Fyodor, you're right, it was Jinmaro whom I was not missing.

Jangari is actually a commentor whose comments I await eagerly. Oops. Sorry for the confusion, Jangari.

*off to write apologetic email*

Pavlov's Cat said...

*Nods, especially about the polyjuice*

The nobbling of some hapless absent writer or thinker to be on her "side" is also a familiar tactic. As is the hand of Google in 'Squeak''s (Noni Mouse, minnie, squeak, geddit?) list of travel writers.

Nemesis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I'm sending a klaus sampler to Don.

PC, this late in life and your only defenders are the fascist fyodor and constipated tigtog. Poor you. No wonder you seem to completely lack joy.

Peter said...

Dr Cat, I would just like to say how much I enjoy reading your writings every day. You are always interesting on such a variety of topics. I do hope you are not put off by these strange attacks.

I will now go off to read about Peter Cundle, not having had the time before.

Thanks, as always.

Peter said...

Bah - That is of course Peter Cundall.
Sorry

lauredhel said...

I'm following the Bianca thread over there. PC, you're a frickin' saint.

klaus k said...

Wow, this is really going a lot further than I thought it would. Sorry that you've been put in the position you have by this Dr Cat. I wasn't looking to turn your blog into a forum for this kind of ugly exchange.

I'd be glad for Mr Watson to read some of my writing, although blog comments aren't the best I have to offer, constructed as they are in haste. Still, getting feedback from somebody of his stature would be a privilege, and I'd be glad to hear it.

Mindy said...

Sorry to arrive at the stoush so late, Dr Cat. I too defend you, and enjoy both your blogging and work writing very much. Although of course, all of blogdom could come to your defence and it would never be enough in the eyes of some.

Kate H said...

Goodness me I love this sort of blog critique! I love the hectoring tone, the demands that the blogger (who blogs at her leisure, we remind ourselves) must somehow justify themselves and their writing, their topics of interest, their opinions, their choice of friends etc to some random passerby too cowardly to commit to an identity or persona or even put down a name.

Hint: if you don't like it, anonymous, no-one is forcing you to read it.

Sigh. Occasionally I am tempted to return to blogging only to find myself reminded by the likes of anonymous why I cooled on the the thing the first time.

That and I'm really lazy.

Nemesis said...

Spiffing, klaus. Glad you are excited. It's Adam G isn't it. How could one miss. You're a prototype, babe.

klaus k said...

I think your interest in me borders on the pathological. In all seriousness now, I think you should talk to somebody. Or maybe try to disengage from this and get some perspective. I won't be entering into further discussion with you. Good night.

Pavlov's Cat said...

Holy shit, you go out (joyfully) to the movies and look what you come back to.

Lauredhel, I'm glad someone is enjoying it. I keep trying to remove myself from the conversational ambit of those dopey boys and then getting sucked back in.

Kate, it's not even about me. Anon/mouse/minnie/squeak/whothefuck only turned on me after she'd come over here vomiting bile all over Klaus K and got ticked off for it.

Nemesis, sweetie, for goodness' sake start your own blog and vent all this hideous green bile over there, would you? Like, somewhere well away from me? I'm not going to delete your most recent sprays because they will make a nonsense of other people's comments, but all further comments from you will be deleted regardless, as one would remove dogshit from one's shoe.

Thanks everyone else for those kind remarks. I am very touched.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.