Dis-engagement (was New X-humanist forums)

From: Brian Manning Delaney (bdelaney@infinitefaculty.org)
Date: Sat Jun 24 2000 - 17:46:06 MDT

I'm violating my stated intent to remain silent for a few days,
because of the seeming absurdity of your post, Max.


1. Someone (who happens to be the woman you love, yes) engages
in petty name-calling against me, suggests I'm inauthentic (or
at least a failure) in my desire to move towards the Good, and
generally manifests intellectual laziness and/or thoughtlessness
(if not malevolence) when responding to my attempts to work
through an extremely subtle problem.

2. I react strongly.

3. You Max, insult me yet again, and declare that I'm not worth
responding to.


I'd be less sure of my interpretations if I hadn't checked them
with several people before sending my last few emails. (All
agree the unqualified nature of my original claim was wrong, but
all also agree that little or nothing else was.)

I'm disappointed, but would never claim anything like this:

> means that I will no longer attempt to
> engage in any communication with Delaney.

I remain open to communication, though I think the odds of its
success seem low, especially after this recent vicious,
one-sided post of yours.

It's now difficult for me to see you as wanting to broker a
peace, as opposed to something else (I don't know what).

> I am utterly disgusted at Delaney's last, most
> vicious attack on Natasha.

And apparently NOT by her treatment of me. Surely you can
understand the temptation to call this "intellectual/political
tribalism" (or, _perhaps_ simply: "love" -- also a kind of
tribalism, though understandable).

> I can deal with his tactics when used against me
> but I draw the line when he
> draws Natasha in then opens fire with all
> guns blazing, [...]

"All guns blazing"? Hardly. She insulted me, I insulted her
back. one plus negative one = zero. Why react so harshly to

> [...] all the while
> posturing as Mr. Charitable and Mr. Reasonable.

I certainly no longer have any great desire to be charitable,
though that desire can return.

> I am also disgusted that Delaney uses the shameful
> tactic of describing people as a "cult" because a
> couple of people out of hundreds dared draw
> his fire by standing up for me.

I'm not precisely disgusted (at this point I've barfed what
remained of the contents of my gut), but again disappointed that
you've demoted a contentful claim, one suggesting a motivation
for the irrational one-sided interpretation of my comments, to a

The problem -- at least one -- seems to be that you think
there's nothing wrong with being stupid or lazy or tribal
(PLEASE don't miss the "or" -- by the way, I assume it's mostly
the third in the case of Natasha, though I don't kjnow her well
enough to be certain -- note, further, I'm not 100% certain
there isn't some other explanation), and/or -- this is more
likely -- that you think the degree of her misreading of my
posts was low enough that I didn't need to mobilize any such
hypotheses. Given that I claimed (with some evidence) that the
degree was indeed high, why not engage me on that very point:
"Brian, you're attributing ill-will to Natasha because you think
she's willfully misreading your posts? I disagree. Here's why:
1. When she criticizes you for attributing some sort of
childishness to her or her choice of lovers because of the word
choice, 'boyfriend,' you have to understand that our community
in LA uses the term 'man-friend' for male adult lovers.... 2.
...." (etc. -- just an example)

But that's NOT what you did. Rather than take that approach, you
decided simply to ATTACK.

That by itself isn't so bad (I've done the same thing -- it can
be seen as another way of engaging in the very question of
correct interpretation). BUT, after attacking, you're calling it
quits. That is obviously NOT engagement at all, but a desire to
strike and run, like the kids who place a burning bag of shit on
someone's doorstep and run away, not far enough so that they
miss watching the person stomp on it, but far enough away so
they don't have to deal with the consequences.

Now THAT sort of behavior is disgusting, and, in my view, wrong
in the extreme.

> I thought we were making some progress,
> publicly and privately.

We were, and could still -- but if you want to give up, I
certainly can't stop you, though, in all frankness, my opinion
of you will head south and probably stay south (yeah, yeah, I
know, same thing for me in your mind -- I'm leaving myself wide
open here).

Bear in mind Max -- I've said this before -- there are different
sub-cultures even within the U.S., with very different norms of
right conduct.

(I ask you again to consider the form/content distinction, the
part of any possible sub-cultural difference that is probably
most relevant here -- I read Plato and Hegel!)

I will happily apologize for something I know to be wrong. I
apologized for the lack of qualifications to my anti-Semitism
point, and will again, if needed. Anything else I've been
accused of doing wrong seems to me -- as I've so far seen it --
like nothing but my unwillingness to turn the other cheek, and
my belief that firing back is often the best approach (the
jury's still out on this, by the way) when I'm treated badly. If
I were a Christian this never would have happened. I think I'll
go read some Nietzsche and mourn the "death of God." (By the
way, I think this exchange might provide some evidence that
Nietzsche was right in using the scare-quotes. Note I certainly
wouldn't claim that in my world, God is completely gone.)

I've stomped on your bag of shit. Enjoy the view, and the
comforts of disengagement.

Towards the Good (a smelly Good, at the moment!),

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