[PD] Carpet sweeping (was Re: Any relation between pidip and Gem??)

Andy Farnell padawan12 at obiwannabe.co.uk
Tue Jul 17 16:19:12 CEST 2007

On Mon, 9 Jul 2007 23:06:28 -0400
Chris McCormick <chris at mccormick.cx> wrote:

> On Mon, Jul 09, 2007 at 06:02:10PM -0400, Mathieu Bouchard wrote:
> > On Mon, 9 Jul 2007, Hans-Christoph Steiner wrote:
> > >Then we can use this list to make Pd work better.
> > >Or am I just naive? :D
> I don't think you are naive, Hans. I think this is a good aim for the
> list and is extremely acheivable even with a couple of people remaining
> incendiary with their invective.
> > Hostility doesn't come from out of the blue and it cannot just be swept 
> > under the carpet using another outlet.
> > 
> > Ignoring each other also comes from the impression of talking past each 
> > other. Compared to hostility, it's more mature, polite, civilised and 
> > insidious.
> Even better than ignoring, or sweeping under the carpet, it is possible
> to use non-provocatory language and to purposely disarm your own writing
> by eliminating emotionally charged content, and still communicate your
> point clearly. 

Much that is worth saying *is* emotional so it's hard to temper
without eliminating the content and leaving hollow words. For
society to shun emotion, especialy anger, is actually a very
negative thing. Anger is okay, but we conflate it with violence
and hate. Anger leads to hate, but it does not *have* to. Its
expression can be a way to make sure it *doesn't*. To jaw-jaw is
always better than to war-war - (Bismarck (not Churchill)).

I just finished Orwells "Inside the whale" containing the famous
"Politics and the English language" - the finest arguments
ever made for intellectual honesty imo. He mentions that 
in softening and disarming the written word too much one can have
the opposite effect and antagonise the reader. Often the original 
emotional meaning stays as a subset of the "watered down"
version, because meaning comes from structure not just words.
Padded by nicities "diffused" (defused) language can seem snarky
because the reader sees right through it.

"In my opinion it is a not unjustifiable assumption that you are incorrect"

isn't just verbose, it's far more acidic than

"I think you're wrong"

How often does the meandering doublespeak of the newspapers get you
mad when you read of "collateral damage"? I'd rather read about "kids brains
blown out" than some smart assed journo insulting me by trying to be clever
with words. Intellectual honesty also requires emotional honesty.

> Then again, maybe it's fun for some people to be argumentative, and
> their motives are something other than making better software and helping
> others. I myself have definately been guilty of arguing a point on this
> list just because of ego, and also of including emotionally charged
> language in my replies in order to make a point. It's hard to subtract
> that out of the equation sometimes.

I guess it depends on culture and formative experience whether
heated debate is enjoyable, but enjoying a good argument isn't 
necessarily incompatible with desiring a productive outcome. Even
one not to your advantage. Maybe it's even possible to be a provocoteur
in a positve way if your intentions are honorable. Some face to face
business meetings I've been in sound like something from the Sopranos.
As a written transcript you'd think a gunfight was about to kick off.
Of course in reality it's all hugs and slaps. Face to face, being *able*
to call someone a f**king idiot is a measure of love, trust and honesty,
at least in English culture, and definitely in NYC. But the wonderful
world of "electronic mail"... all the emoticons and softeners
can never account for the disconnect between two people exchanging email.

To disarm language at the receiving side try reading using the internal
voice of somebody you liked and respected, like a favorite old teacher
or uncle. Now try reading the same passage again using Homer Simpsons
most sarcastic voice... see what I mean? 

On a mailing list we get a false sense of familiarity and have voices
for who we think that person is. Often they're far off the mark.

> My point: ignoring and sweeping under the carpet are not the only, or
> indeed the best options.

Agreed, I am guilty too. Some subjects, like software patents, get me 
so wound up that I dare not get into it on list. If feel if I were to be
honest I would have no choice but to sound extremely rude. The danger
then is that we self-censor and stifle essential debate.

I think Kyle is right that in a small community we can afford to
take it for granted that we are brothers and sisters, and sometimes
it's better to regret the things you did say in haste than to regret the
words you didn't out of cowardice.

Use the source

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