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Post 20

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 - 1:32pmSanction this postReply
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Phil asks:  What's my secret for remaining civil in a dialogue when it is a lot easier to get angry and to yell at people?  "How do you remain civil and sane at the same time? [I'm assuming you have remained sane, of course - you can always correct me there :-) ]"

Well, Phil, as my close friends know, I am a native Brooklynite.  We're all a little crazy.  :)  And there's not a single close friend of mine who hasn't heard me utter a few select four-letter words with a few remarkably fresh permutations thereof. 

Here are a few secrets on how I remain civil ... but I cannot vouch for their effectiveness as universal principles, especially with people who have different "constitutions":

Don't be afraid to scream out four-letter words if you should read something that really pisses you off. Throw things if you have to.  Pick up the phone, talk to a friend (like Roger Bissell) and get it off your chest. Don't let it fester.  Just let it out.  You'll never get an ulcer.

Let it out! Let it out! Let it out!

Privately.

Then, take deep breaths.  Several.

And then:  Try to uphold the necessary distinction between private and public.  Try to respect the fact that, as Rand said, "Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy."  If you decide to go on the offensive, do not cross that boundary into the realm of the private and the personal.  And if you do, do not be surprised by the uncivilized things that result.

Is there a single person on SOLO who doubts for one moment that "civilized," "kind," and "considerate" Dr. Diabolical Dialectical has a temper?  Or that he has a mouth like a truck driver?  Or that he doesn't look at an occasional post and say, loudly:  "Motherf*&%er!"

As I said:  I was born and raised in Brooklyn.  I still live here.  I am half-Greek, yes... but I'm also half-Sicilian.  'Nuff said.

I have almost never allowed myself to poison a dialogue by crossing into the boundaries between the personal/private and the public.  For me, and I can only speak for myself:  Attacking people on a public forum in such a personal way diminishes both the attacker and those who are attacked.  I have learned the hard way that I can and should take on all comers on matters of substance, if I wish to ... but that it is never good to sanction rudeness, impoliteness, ad hominem, ridicule.  That, for me, is the culmination of any civilized discussion.

(And if I have an issue with a friend, I'm much more likely to discuss that issue privately than to put it on public display.)

I have more to say about this in an interview that will be published by Sunni Maravillosa in another day or two.  I'll post the link in this thread.

Roger, Joe, thanks for your additional comments (you both know what I'm talking about).

John (and Marsha too!):  You've been supportive pals of mine through the years.  I thank you both "from the bottom of my heart."  You two done good too!  :)  (And as JARS contributors, you done great!)

Michael, thank you also for your wonderful support.  With regard to the scholar who opposed my book:  That person was only one of several along the way, and while there is documented evidence of such opposition, I will leave it to "the history of the Objectivist movement"---perhaps I'll write a memoir some day, or you folks will have to wait for the ever-revealing Sciabarra Diaries to make their way into publication, long after I'm dust.  :)   At that point, any issue of privacy is moot. :)

Cheers,
Chris




Post 21

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 - 2:57pmSanction this postReply
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Chris wrote:"...perhaps I'll write a memoir some day, or you folks will have to wait for the ever-revealing Sciabarra Diaries to make their way into publication, long after I'm dust.  :)   At that point, any issue of privacy is moot. :)"

No, it is not!

Michael





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Post 22

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 - 3:13pmSanction this postReply
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Michael wrote:  "No it is not!" in reference to the privacy issue post-mortem.

You're right.  Unless I say it's okay to the executors of my Estate.  :)

Cheers,
Chris




Post 23

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 - 3:22pmSanction this postReply
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Look at Rand's estate!!!



Post 24

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 - 3:26pmSanction this postReply
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Hey,

I just saw CMS and Michael Newberry in the same place at the same time.

There are some people that just seem like two sides of the same coin.

That is meant as a compliment.

(Edited by Marcus Bachler on 8/16, 3:31pm)




Post 25

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 - 3:27pmSanction this postReply
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Speaking of shit hitting the fan! Chris you must possess more dirt on Objectivists, and in their own words, nonetheless!




Post 26

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 - 3:32pmSanction this postReply
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Marcus,

Thank you.

Michael




Post 27

Tuesday, August 16, 2005 - 7:17pmSanction this postReply
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It's always more fun though when Newberry and Sciabarra disagree with each other. :-)



Post 28

Wednesday, August 17, 2005 - 9:08pmSanction this postReply
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"If you decide to go on the offensive, do not cross that boundary into the realm of the private and the personal." [Chris]

Very well-put, Chris: Part of becoming an adult is to have mental, behavioral boundaries.

But your principle would eliminate 31.756% of the posts on Solo (especially on the more "passionate" threads.) What are people to do if they have to exercise objectivity, maturity, context, and self-control...and all at once?



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Post 29

Thursday, August 18, 2005 - 12:08amSanction this postReply
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Chris Sciabarra offered this advice to debaters on online forums:

"If you decide to go on the offensive, do not cross that boundary into the realm of the private and the personal."

Phil Coates commented:

"Very well-put, Chris: Part of becoming an adult is to have mental, behavioral boundaries.

"But your principle would eliminate 31.756% of the posts on Solo (especially on the more 'passionate' threads.) What are people to do if they have to exercise objectivity, maturity, context, and self-control...and all at once?"

Translation into plain English:

It is inappropriate and undesirable to be insulting on SOLO, unless you employ the passive-aggressive style of insult favored by Phil.  You can, for example, say that anyone who argues more passionately or more vehemently than you do is a subjectivist (a "range-of-the-moment whim-worshipper," perhaps?), a context-dropper, immature, and out of control.  But only if you say this in the indirect, passive-aggressive manner favored by Phil.

JR





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Post 30

Thursday, August 18, 2005 - 4:30amSanction this postReply
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Let me be clearer about one point that Jeff alludes to:
 
I, personally, have engaged in what I view as very strong criticisms of other's works.  Take a look at my critique of James Valliant's book, for example.  I'm not going to re-open the substance of that debate on this thread.  But if I'd called Valliant a "maggot" because I disagreed with him, what would it have achieved?  We would have spent hours upon hours upon hours debating the style of my essay, rather than its substance.
 
An interview conducted by Sunni Maravillosa goes up later today where I expand on these themes.  I'll post the link later.  But as I say there, "when people engage in rude and disrespectful exchanges, the topic of the discussion soon shifts from a debate over substance to a debate over style."
 
Now, I'll admit that Linz has a nice Goldwater-tinged maxim in his essay from yesterday: 
 
Civility in the face of evil is no virtue; rage in the face of nihilism is no vice. 

 
People who have seen me post to SOLO HQ have surely seen that I get passionate about many issues. Take a look at former discussions here of everything from homosexuality to foreign policy.  But there comes a point where I move on.  Just because I have serious disagreements with somebody does not mean that I have to revel in that topic for eons, spewing the newest, freshest insults I could come up with.  That's just not me.  It's not even a difference between a "public Chris" and "private Chris."  It's not that I think one thing privately and say another publicly.  I am usually unwilling to throw epithets around on SOLO HQ because I don't see the point of making the style of my exposition the center of the debate, thereby detracting from the substance of my points.  It's as much a tactical decision as it is an expression of who I am.
 
But few people ever walk away from a dialogue with me wondering about that substance.  People know where I stand on a subject, whether it be the Iraq war, dialectics, feminism, homosexuality, or countless other topics.
 
None of this means that I'm not entertained by other people's diametrically opposed styles.  Vive la difference!  I have been entertained, plenty of times, by people (like Jeff), who can use satire and parody in devastating ways.  And I may not like it when Linz throws certain epithets in my direction, but he can sometimes be very effective in the style that comes naturally to him.
 
And let me state this for the hearing of the world:  I have actually learned from Lindsay Perigo. Horrors!  There is a distinctive difference between the style of my academic work, which enters into very technical scholarly debates over methodology and epistemology, since it is addressed to a very specific audience, and the style of my essays for The Free Radical, which is more accessible.  Linz has helped me to tap into my Inner Pit Bull on many an occasion, in his editorial comments on my first or second drafts for TFR, pushing me toward far more colorful and effective communication in that context.  But I stand by my ability to speak "Polish" (as Linz puts it) to the Poles because I believe that different contexts demand different approaches.  They do not demand a compromise of the substance of my points.  But they do demand that I take into account the interests, needs, and knowledge of the audience I'm addressing.
 
On these last points, see my essay:  "Dialectics and the Art of Nonfiction."

UPDATE:   As promised, here are links to a few "anniversary" interviews that have been conducted this past week:
An Interview Conducted by Sébastien Caré
An Interview at Sunni's Salon
And, of course, don't forget to check out Notablog, where comments are always welcome.

(Edited by sciabarra on 8/18, 12:12pm)




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Post 31

Friday, August 19, 2005 - 1:40amSanction this postReply
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Dr. Diabolical Dialectical writes:

And let me state this for the hearing of the world:  I have actually learned from Lindsay Perigo. Horrors!  There is a distinctive difference between the style of my academic work, which enters into very technical scholarly debates over methodology and epistemology, since it is addressed to a very specific audience, and the style of my essays for The Free Radical, which is more accessible.  Linz has helped me to tap into my Inner Pit Bull on many an occasion, in his editorial comments on my first or second drafts for TFR, pushing me toward far more colorful and effective communication in that context.

I have employed many ruses to draw out the Inner Pit Bull, all of them successful, but I fear my repertoire of wiles is exhausted. Probably just as well, since they're quite friendship-threatening. Actually, only a little bit of coaxing was ever required—Chris' prose, as long as he's not in Polish mode, is seamless, elegant & eloquent. Just occasionally I pressed for more "sizzle," more of him. In person he's a maniac & a lunatic, more so even than I. No one can do the infamous Brooklyn tour, a helpless hostage as Chris drives at a speed commensurate with his talking, & not realise he is in the presence of true insanity. I wanted to see a bit of that in his articles. :-)

But I stand by my ability to speak "Polish" (as Linz puts it) to the Poles because I believe that different contexts demand different approaches.  They do not demand a compromise of the substance of my points.  But they do demand that I take into account the interests, needs, and knowledge of the audience I'm addressing.

I have characterised "Polish" (the "Diabolical" part of "Diabolical Dialectical") in part as, "Why settle for one word when thirty will suffice? Why settle for a one-syllable word when there's a six-syllable synonym?" Chris says it's necessary to speak to academics in this way because Polish is their language. I retort that any audience that requires to be addressed in this manner is not worth addressing. The groves of academe are promenaded by poseurs who jerk off as they strut. Of what use are they to us? He & I'll never agree on this.

I've also told Chris what the title of his next book has to be. See, he's so busy in his existing works telling us what everybody else—& I mean everybody—has said that we still don't know where he is at. Someone else has raised this, if not on this thread then on the Ed Younkins one. I note that Chris anticipates the criticism in his concluding remarks in Total Freedom. That won't stop me repeating it here. I want the title of his next book to be, So Fucking What?! Yes, yes, yes, Rand said this, Rothbard said that, Hayek said the other thing, and so on, & on & on; yes, yes, yes, dialectical carryings-on in Rand, if that's what you want to call them—but where is this all leading us?! Get to the point, man!! What's YOUR take on it all?! What does CHRIS SCIABARRA say?!

Chris is a scholar & a gentleman; I am a crusader & a hooligan. By definition, I am by far the more impatient, and, I would argue, the more practical of the two of us. I tell him that in a tsunami he'd perish because he'd want to examine it from every angle before deciding the proper course of action was to run like hell. The last words he'd hear as he was swept up would be from me, shrieking abuse at him from a hilltop. That we remain so close should probably be written up in psychiatry somewhere. If he were an Objectivist, I'd say we were The Odd Couple of Objectivism. :-)

I've told him I'm working on a denunciation similar to the magnificent, terrifying excommunication scene in Becket. "Krakatoa" doesn't begin to describe what I have in mind for him! But every time I think such thoughts, I read his review of I'll Walk With God. I remember his out-of-control sobbing as we listened to that song together. And I know that no matter how exasperated I get with him, he's my soulmate for life. I believe it's the same for him. So, barring one or both of us being locked up for incurable madness, The Odd Couple will be a feature of SOLO for some time yet.

Linz







 



Post 32

Friday, August 19, 2005 - 2:15amSanction this postReply
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This is just too rich to resist. Linz, you wrote:
I have employed many ruses to draw out the Inner Pit Bull, all of them successful, but I fear my repertoire of wiles is exhausted.
ahem... Have you tried wine?

(Dayaamm! Just joking. Stop throwing shit...)

Michael




Post 33

Friday, August 19, 2005 - 2:36amSanction this postReply
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Did I try wine, MSK? Oh yes. (You do realise this is Dr. DD's Inner Pit Bull we're talking about, not mine? Mine needs no encouragement, as has been noted.) It had limited success. Chris has a drinking problem. Her Royal Whoreness is, I regret to report, a cheap drunk. One drink & he's anybody's. Two drinks & he's everybody's. Three drinks & he's nobody's. These are the relevant metaphysical facts of reality. Galt grant us the serenity to accept them.

:-)

Linz



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Post 34

Friday, August 19, 2005 - 3:00amSanction this postReply
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Ah, Perigo the Hooligan:

"Yes, yes, yes, Rand said this, Rothbard said that, Hayek said the other thing, and so on, & on & on; yes, yes, yes, dialectical carryings-on in Rand, if that's what you want to call them—but where is this all leading us?! Get to the point, man!! What's YOUR take on it all?! What does CHRIS SCIABARRA say?!"

Well, the academician often does not reveal his conclusions. That's what keeps him in academia. Hooligans wear their hearts upon their sleeves. They suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and nail their flag upon the ramparts while the anointed shine down upon them from their ivory towers.

Ross




Post 35

Friday, August 19, 2005 - 4:19amSanction this postReply
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Ah Ross, you have pricked the bubble of academia's pretentiousness only too well.



Post 36

Friday, August 19, 2005 - 4:23amSanction this postReply
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Linz is right:  Incurably mad and in need of institutionalization.  That about sums it up.  :)

And he's also right about something else:   I have the occasional Summer Blush or Spring Splendor from Pindar Vineyards out on Long Island... but I'm more apt to get tipsy on the fumes, before actually drinking it.  My drink of choice is seltzer.*

Anyway, it has been grand!  Thanks for all the good wishes!

----
Famous Sciabarra Footnote
* Seltzer is seltzer-water, or carbonated water, or soda-water.  It's like club soda (without the sodium) or mineral water (without the minerals).  I add this explanation because anytime I've traveled out of the NYC area, and I order Seltzer, some waiter or waitress thinks I mean "Alka-Seltzer" or "Bromo-Seltzer" for the tummy.  But seltzer is a classic New York drink.  You can even make Egg Creams with seltzer.  (I'd add another footnote to this footnote, but that's not standard academic practice. Suffice it to say:  Egg Creams do not include Eggs or Cream.  See here for instructions on how to make a classic New York Egg Cream.  Also see here.  And yes, we have real seltzer water delivered to our home in Brooklyn.)

(Edited by sciabarra on 8/19, 4:27am)




Post 37

Friday, August 19, 2005 - 4:29amSanction this postReply
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I rest my case. Seltzer. SELTZER??!! Would a Becket denunciation begin to do justice here?



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Post 38

Saturday, August 20, 2005 - 9:08amSanction this postReply
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Chris,

Let me add me two cents of congratulations. And folks, if you think Chris is a great writer and an excellent scholar, you have to take his guided tour of Brooklyn (alluded to above by Linz) and you will, like I, fall for this chunk of wonderfulness.

Fred



Post 39

Saturday, August 20, 2005 - 11:59amSanction this postReply
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Chris,

I am one who would be glad to join you in a glass of seltzer. I will pass on the egg cream, though. I do not partake of sucrose if I can avoid it.

If the syrup can be substituted by 100% honey, then I'm game. Maybe you could call it something like Milk and Honey on the Rocks (or whatever)...

Michael



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