Monday, July 11, 2011

Something That Matters To Me

Between the people who tell me the grit I include on this blog is "extraordinary" and the people who tell me that I tend to wither under criticism, I confess this blogging thing gets on my nerves.  In linking to Chris at Hill Cantons' writing of this post on the weekend, I draw the gentle reader's attention to the 27th comment by Limpey ... particularly the line where he says, "It became clear to me that my detractors were very determined ..."

It isn't that the self-righteous little fuckers are wandering around anonymously in the background.  It isn't that they can pick and choose their battles from the literally tens of thousands of words I write on this blog monthly, focusing on this little sentence here or that little sentence there in the way it suits their fancy.  It isn't their pretense to expertise or critical analysis that seems to pop up on my comments list but is inexplicably invisible on their own personal blogs.

What really pisses me off is that I can speak and argue in reality much faster and much more clearly than I can write.  Face to face, I can rip apart their two-dimensional protests in the space of a minute or so.  I can enter into the discussion with a full-on Socratean court press, demanding an answer to this, and an answer to that, walking my pathetic little detractor into a corner of his own dumbfuck construction before eviscerating his position.

The blog just doesn't let me do that.  I can ask questions and demand answers, but as soon as these little peons sense their position is wavering a tiny bit they sidestep my questions and change the subject, smugly doing so with a meaningless diatribe full of disconnected, irrelevant examples.  I can't stand in front of them and demand that they answer the question I've asked.  I can't force them back onto the subject in question.  I can't beat them with the stick of their own fucking stupidity.

No, I have to sit here and fume and argue with myself about how deleting this comment will make me look to the people who actually do respect me.  Every one of these slippery bastards that don't respect me - or anyone else, as far as I know - holds me hostage.  I am on trial, daily, put there whenever some little fart has read some obscure book on the subject he bought at Borders, who presumes that book must be right because its a book, and I must be wrong because I'm, well, a person.  Books, of course, aren't written by people who get their facts wrong.  Books are never irrelevant because they weren't written with D&D in mind.  Books are gods.  I know that I have never read a book which I found to be a piece of unbelievable unmitigated poorly-researched crap.  Every book I have ever read was perfectly researched.

My greatest failing as an expert at anything is clearly that I haven't read, memorized and thoughtfully included a bibliography to every book ever written on every subject I dare to talk about on this blog.  It is my fault that back in the 80's and 90's that I didn't painstakingly copy out long paragraphs of description from the books I read in libraries about feudalism, the middle ages, culture, history and so on, for the day when I would need to quote them, verbatim, for this blog.  I am unforgiveably guilty of not spending every waking hour I have, now, at the library, fixing this regrettable lack of foresight by quoting chapter, verse and publishing house for every buttfuck critic who feels that I haven't read enough books written by actual medieval writers to please that particular critic.  Mea culpa.  Mea culpa.  Holy fucking mother of Christ, what in blazes was I - am I - thinking?

Let me explain something about defending oneself to readers who have disagreements about something you've written.  It is fucking exhausting.  The complaintants generally haven't read every word you've bothered to carefully write in each sentence you've carefully strung together, so you spend more than half your time repeating shit you've already said.  Most complaintants just don't get it.  They don't know what you're talking about.  And if you've committed the immortal sin of crapping on some sacred cow they've spent the last twenty years of their lives fucking and reading bedtime stories to, they simply WON'T get what you're talking about.

So it begins to wear a little thin.  It begins to beg the question, why bother?  It gathers in a little less pleasant gain.  The bloom comes off the rose.  And if you aren't the sort that thrives on this sort of thing ... if you aren't the kind of person who soaks in controversy with the osmosis-bent fury of an amoeba touched by Darwin, you will find the day that comes when you just won't want to do this anymore.  You will lift yourself from your computer and find out that there are happier, warmer places in the world, where there are people who considerately want to share their company with you, where they will not disdain your choices and interests, but serve them and do so with kindness and concern.  You will learn there is a warm sun, a gentle rain, a glistening pond, a bustle of laughing people on the street, quiet glades, calling birds and spectacular little things in stores that you can buy with money you earn.

And you'll wonder why you ever had a blog.

For me, having now finished delivering my opinion on something, having taken time out of patiently churning out product to express myself like a human being on something that interests ME as opposed to those readers who feel my blog is no place for me to give my opinion freely, I shall now take on the task of again answering those who find everything I've written today to be yet one more pile of excrement, brown and smelly and wholly dissatisfying.

Okay.  I'll just get a cup of coffee and we can get started.


Anthony said...

I was sincere with my last post with no ill will. Should I stop making comments?

Alexis said...

I'm writing a post about people reading whatever they like into my posts, and you comment that you often wonder about the motivations behind why some people blog.

However, I didn't write ANYTHING about my motivation. Not one fucking thing. I wrote about how people misunderstand me and don't fucking get it. Should I feel guilty that I failed to tolerate a comment that clearly demonstrated exactly why I shouldn't?

Hey, maybe I'm a bit on edge today, but if you want to comment on a post like this, being really fucking clear what you mean, and not shadowy and clever, is a really, really, really good idea.

Anthony said...

Replying mostly to this part:

"if you aren't the kind of person who soaks in controversy with the osmosis-bent fury of an amoeba touched by Darwin, you will find the day that comes when you just won't want to do this anymore"

It is a good description of passion and you can substitute whatever your passion may be in place of 'controversy.'

Alexis said...

But that's a comment about what other people aren't, isn't it? You're only assuming I am the opposite, and in any event that still wouldn't explain WHY I'm that way, would it? So it doesn't give you any information about me, except what you choose to read into it ... and people reading shit into things they read that ISN'T there is the thing that starts the disconnect and misunderstandings in the first place, particularly when we as bloggers are accused of saying things we didn't say.

It may be 'A' good description of passion, but nothing in the post says that it is 'MY' description of passion.

Anthony said...

We will always strive to communicate our intentions properly.

Is it yours, by any chance?

Alexis said...

Is what mine?

Anthony said...

A passion of yours that sustains your blogging effort.

Alexis said...

My purpose in blogging about D&D is to repair as much as possible the fuck-up that was perpetrated against the game described here.

My purpose in writing in general is to convey things that I believe, and I say coldly that I don't care how many people disagree with me or believe different things, I will say what I have to say. It is not an emotional satisfaction that I derive from writing, but a conviction that right is right, wrong is wrong, and I shall correct error whenever I deem it to be error.

If I am in error, I will change my opinion about what I believe when I am given reason to change it, by argument or by evidence; I have changed my opinion many times. I will not change my opinion to satisfy a community, to satisfy a tradition, to satisfy the sympathetic needs of my listener or to soften the blow. Wrong is wrong. Coating it with sugar doesn't make it right.

I have been attacked all my life by people without arguments against what I say by the ploy of attacking who I am, how I behave, how I seem to derive pleasure from abusing others, blah blah blah. It is a strategy that is always employed when no evidence is available to prove me wrong.

People who honestly care to prove me wrong take the effort to argue with what I'm saying. They never discuss me personally. They never seem to have any trouble with me personally. In fact, they seem to think, as I do, that the subject matter is what is important, and not who is right or wrong. I personally don't care if I'm right or wrong ... but before I'm going to admit that I'm wrong, you better fucking prove to me that you're right. That isn't going to be done with whining, insults, sulking, smugness, bullshit, pandering or insinuation. It is going to be done with facts.

I don't know if I can make that more clear.

Anthony said...

Do you mind if I try to lighten the mood a bit?

Thanks. ;)

Alexis said...

I love xkcd.

What's not generally understood is that it is important.

Carl said...

Ignore the trolls. That's what the big boys and girls do.

If a troll post something truly inappropriate, delete it. Otherwise, leave it for the world to see.

I think you take this shit far too personally, Alexis. You're a passionate guy, and that's what makes your stuff really great to read, but don't give yourself an cerebral aneurysm over some asshole on the Internet.

The little fucks posting bullshit on your blog and the blogs of others don't care anywhere near as much as you do. They're doing it to get a rise out of the authors. You're giving them juice. They get off on making you mad. They're goddamned rage vampires. Let them wither and die in the sunlight of your lack of attention.

That said, this is an awesome rage-gasm!

Alexis said...

That's fair, Carl, but a call to inaction doesn't strike me as particularly effective. I know the little fucks don't care. That makes very little hay with me, since I do care, and I have the energy to care ...

I prefer to stand for something.

R.W. Chandler said...

Actually, they do care. And as long as you keep feeding them with these posts, they'll continue to care. They'll continue to call you out because, as was stated above, they are little fucking rage vampires. They feed off the fact that you care so much and that you go to great lengths to defend yourself over cynical and snarky blog attacks. The only way these idiots have a voice is if you all keep giving them one. Ignore them and don't feed them. Continue putting out posts on the game and what thrills you about it and let these morons rot in their own misery.

Alexis said...

That's an old, old saw, R.W., and it's bullshit. Always has been. All that means is that the cretins get to go on speaking and the rest of us should shut up and let them.

You don't need to give the cretins food. They're cretins. They'll go whereever they're able.

But all those people in the world who can't or won't go on a screed such as mine, but who smiled today while reading this one - they got fed today. They got a good meal. They learned a little bit that it's possible to stand up and call the fuckers what they are.

Nothing gets better with doing nothing.

Rick Marshall said...

Alexis, I don't think they're suggesting you do nothing. I think they're suggesting you swiftly delete the offending posts and move on.

It would be a highly effective way to shut down the rage vampires. I have to agree with Carl and R.W. that just about anything else you do will make the rage vampires happy.

That said, I 100% sympathize with the frustration that a few horrible people can spread so much unhappiness in what is supposed to be a medium for opening lines of communication. It is one of the worst things about the human condition that it is so easy for a few to make so many so unhappy.

Whatever you decide to do, good luck, and keep posting.

Alexis said...

Rick, R.W., Carl,

I recognize the good wishes. It is not the vampires and the 'horrible' people that bother me. They are easily dispensed with and ignored.

It is the useless nitpicking over things that are peripheral to the point; the dismissal of what I think should be my obvious understanding of the time period; the endless carping about details that the reader can leave out of their worlds if they don't like whatever; the helpful suggestions to read books that are generalized coffee-table overviews compared to long very dull dissertations and technical works I read 20 years ago. It is, frankly, the constant assertion that yes, while I do seem to turn out a lot of good work, that buys me zero credit when I speak on a related subject.

In short, gentlemen, it is the peanut gallery. It is the willful insistence not to read the whole post before commenting. It is the same thing every hardworking designer has to put up with, that causes us to occasionally see some criticism and answer, "Oh, you are FUCKING kidding me."

Today was my day to get it off my chest. Not to worry. I am not quitting the blog.

Morgan Blackhand said...

There is a SF writer named John Scalzi that maintains "Whatever", his blog, with a lot of comments and polite discussions. There is only a rule: he calls it the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule can be summarized like that: "My blog is like my house. My house, my rules. You like it, it's OK. You don't or you are a moron/troll/flamer: I'll shut you up".
Mr.Scalzi has hundreds of people posting, and no one see this like some kind of censoring. Is like throwing out with a kick the morons that plan to spoil your fun in your favourite bar.
I use the Golden Rule in my blogs and so far I haven't received a single complaint. If the poster is polite and clearly isn't a troll or a flamer, it's OK to disagree.
But morons should get kicked out ASAP.
Have fun with your blog. That's the important thing. It encourages people to think, to see things form another point of view.
Oh, and as the Sex Pistols would say, never mind the bollocks ;)

DRANCE said...

What I don't understand is, why does it seem like you come right out of the gate, every day, ready to fight EVERYONE? Seriously, you come off as being ready to struggle and fight and refute and argue ALL THE TIME. That's why I've said here before that it has to be a schtick. Nobody can seriously be on guard like that all the time, right?

What I'm saying is, why do you seem to react to praise and criticism with equal suspicion and disdain? Do you ever take joy in praise? You get a lot of it, but I wonder if you truly just take it for what it is. As for criticism, why do you need to instantly tear it apart instead of taking time to think about what the critic is saying and going about a simple, calm discussion? I'm not talking about trolls attacking you, I'm talking about people who express different opinions in their comments.

I know I'm not citing examples here, because I don't have the time or frankly the interest in doing so. But let's say that I'm basing this on my experiences as well as discussions with other bloggers about their feelings after their experiences with interactions with you.

No, I'm not asking you to change. I'm just asking if there's a reason you have such a seemingly defensive stance all the time. Everyone is not out to get you. Do you ever take time to appreciate the people who come to read your words? I do so all the time, despite not knowing why you are so defensive.

I'm not even sure how you will react to this. There are people who have told me they've left comments that were glowing praise on your posts and you did not react well! Well, anyway, here's to continued discussion in this strange virtual world of ours.

Blog on!

Dave Cesarano said...

Morgan Blackhand pretty much sums up what I think.

If someone brings intelligent debate or constructive criticism to one's blog or ideas, that's one thing. And it's hard to do for you, Alexis, since your reasoning is pretty damn thorough. Which leaves mostly trolls and those who don't read all the way through or miss the point.

But I doubt any of us would allow a guest to come into our house, prop their muddy-shoed feet on our coffee tables, and proceed to criticize our taste in home decor or tell us how much of an asshole we are.

Anyway, I can see how this can be pretty frustrating. However, I'm glad you aren't quitting. A lot of the stuff you post really gets me thinking about campaigns I've run and will run and what I can do with them.

Alexis said...

Drance said,"Do you ever take time to appreciate the people who come to read your words?"

No. I appreciate people who make me think. I don't appreciate people who only listen. It's a contact sport.

I can get listeners anywhere.

Alexis said...

Thanks Dave,

I appreciate what you've expressed. I think you've nailed it closer to the bone than I might have myself. I shouldn't give into the frustration, but I have my moments.

But no worries. I haven't finished saying everything I have to say yet.