10 October 2006


Today’s discussion shall be drawn from, or perhaps I should say based upon, the recent comment posted by an anonymous reader. Let us call it my starting point for a larger examination of several of those things that are wrong with the world. This may seem a rather large task to undertake within the auspices of this collection of writings, but it is one I feel, at least at this moment, compelled to undertake. I shall, in this process, do my best to limit myself to working from this comment, relying solely on the original text, unaltered, using only its rhetorical, linguistic, and material cues to bring forth my larger hypotheses.

What follows is the complete text of said comment, my seminal text let us say, upon which I shall attempt to foster a diagnosis of some of those many things wrong with the world:

Anonymous said...
you are retarded. you are ason of a bitch
10:36 PM

1] The world is lazy.
While all of us have at one time or another – I for one am certainly guilty of this – fallen prey to the dreaded typo, one should be, I would hope, able to expect more care and concern when a writer’s message is as brief as this, especially one to which the author seems so profoundly committed. It is just this sort of apathy that is currently plaguing the world. If only – and I do so wish – the world could lift itself from just this sort of lethargy, god only knows what we might be able to collectively accomplish, but alas, Anonymous remains all too typical of this larger societal woe, or at the very least unwilling to avail him- or herself of a quick spellcheck.

2] The world is far too prone to leap to make assumptions.
How does this commenter know whether his or her subject’s mother is or is not a bitch? Putting aside the question of whether this is a polite thing to say, this seems a rather large assumption to make. Has Anonymous done any particular research into his or her subject’s parentage, specifically the life and habits of the subject’s maternal progenitor? Far too often the world follows along with Anonymous on this path of rash conjecture – remember those WMD’s?

3] The world does a poor job at correlating evidence and opinion.
Assumedly the subject of this text would never claim to be the smartest person on the planet, or at least hardly ever, but this text seems to have a problem with relating available evidence with the assertions made. Based upon the subject’s surrounding writings and other works, the subject appears to have displayed at the minimum an average degree of mental development. Perhaps Anonymous has simply utilized an ill-chosen word, which would bring us back to point #1, but it seems more likely that the material evidence at hand has not been carefully considered, processed and utilized in coming to and thus presenting the conclusions that have been so emphatically pronounced.

4] The world is astonishingly bad at producing meaningful argument.
Beyond the problems of assumption – point #2 – and the seeming lack of regard for the evidentiary process – point #3 – this text seems an exemplar of the world’s propensity for eschewing any attempt at significant critique. Anonymous perhaps studied at the same school of rhetoric as our president, in which it is apparently taught that rhetorical vehemence is the equal of consequential criticism. This text lacks, as do so many of the statements the world produces, the word “because.” This text would perhaps be more compelling if its readers were given explanations for why the author feels that his or her subject is deemed to be “retarded,” or if some line of reasoning were offered for the conclusion that the subject is “ason of a bitch,” then we would have an actual argument to deal with, one that could be discussed or debated upon its merits, perhaps leading to a greater understanding of the subject at hand.

5] The world, oftentimes, is simply mean.
It may be argued that this final point is the most significant, or, conversely, that it is a relatively minor issue compared to the previous concerns, but that remains outside of the scope of this current study. What I will say is that, based on the deficiencies in the text with regard to points #2, #3, and #4 this text seems to stand as instance of the world’s tendency to be mean. Critique, satire, even caustic opprobrium are certainly valid, but here, like much of the world, we seem to be left with few interpretive possibilities other than that of mean intent, and alas there is all too much of that. Why would the author call his or her subject “retarded?” Why should the author refer to the subject’s mother as a “bitch?” Since there is no real argument for these positions, nor is any significant evidence offered, we must be, unfortunately, left with no other resolution than that the author, much like the world itself, is, well, mean.

Hence, we see the world: lazy and mean, rash and assumptive. Therefore I beg of you, dear readers, to do your part to improve the world and avoid these all too common pitfalls. Do not follow the path that led to a war in Iraq, that produces homophobic legislation, that fosters callous disregard for those others around us, and that spawns such ill-formed writing as this now immortalized communiqué.

09 October 2006


You will never guess where I am right now, dear reader. Go ahead, try…

Well, I’ll tell you. I am, at long last, after what has been a very long search, at my desk, in my office, within the house that the wife and I bought. Yes, we are finally, officially, and fully moved in – though being unpacked is a rather different question.

Yes, dear reader, the process that began some two hundred and twenty-four days ago has at long last resulted in a house. Thus I sit here in my office – one that is not simultaneously a living room, guest bedroom, or an entrance hall – typing away while drinking a freshly brewed cup of coffee made in a kitchen that does not, in fact, double as the primary hallway for passage through the domicile. If I wanted to I could at this very moment get up from my chair and venture into any one of a vast number of rooms – though I do not wish to sound braggadocious about the size of my abode. I could do this, but, for the moment I choose to not; I, of my own free will, have decided to spend some time here in this corner room with the window overlooking the lovely tree in the front yard.

This, dear reader, is the miracle of our new house. At last there are choices; rooms can have distinct functions and I have a greater range of places to be than the much simpler – though less satisfying – duality of that small apartment in which one could be in “this room” or “the other room.” This afternoon I revel in the tangible possibility of walking through either of the study’s doors and exploring any number of pathways and permutations through our home. I have already spent small handfuls of moments just sitting right over there in the comfy chair by the window with my feet up on the mismatched ottoman contemplating alternate routes from one spot to another.

But, this has come at a price. No, I am not referring to the mortgage payments that will perpetually follow along with the shiny set of keys. The more immediate price is the battering and bruising that accompanied the process of moving in. What you are looking at below is only one example of the more than a dozen bruises that are covering vast swaths of my body. Arms, legs, hips, and back; no part of me has been spared its share of physical abuse. Last night, as the final bits of moving lay before the wife and me, I finally had to submit, to give in to the pain and admit defeat. Last night I finally collapsed in a heap on the old apartment’s circular driveway amidst the bugs, leaves, and squashed walnuts fallen from a nearby tree – an act that in normal circumstances would have filled me with abject horror. After a final effort to unload one last van-full of possessions I was left on the couch to lay stricken with ice-packs on both knees and both ankles while the wife completed a final run to the apartment to collect the stray items and give it a fairwell cleaning.

But, as I sit here and contemplate a somewhat awkward and painful trip down the stairs to the kitchen to freshen-up this cup of coffee that is sitting there with just a few sips remaining, I must admit that these cuts, scratches, and bruises accumulated over a week of hefting and hauling are well worth it, and that I rather think I shall enjoy this house – at least until January…