Monday, March 11, 2013

Substance

I said this on Brad's site, but I don't want to risk losing it over there.

What most people fail to understand is that argument does not come down to personalities.  It is of no importance who says a thing, or in the manner it is said.  It doesn't come down to who's been made uncomfortable or who's been derisive.  People may hate my manner.  They may hate that I swear.  But what they cannot deny is that what I have to say deserves respect.  Not because I'm 'a nice guy,' but because I say things that are worthwhile.


While some focus on the visceral, others are focusing on the intellectual. They don't CARE how its presented; they're so thirsty for someone to say something that's meaningful they'll take it no matter what the dipper looks like.

This leaves me free to speak in the manner that is my personality, since I am respected for what I say, not how I say it.

Those who preach that I should say things differently - more positively - are like someone explaining that I should give water in a cup instead of a dipper, as though somehow the water will be more quenching or better tasting.  It's cosmetic.  These are the arguments of marketing.  Our society has become so sick with the process of buying and selling that even intellectual argument must be packaged and made pretty, in order for it to be palatable.

That's no way to become a person of substance.

16 comments:

ravencrowking said...

On the other blog, I mentioned that reading your other post, I had some WTF? moments. This is just because I had not yet seen where you were going with some particular threads of idea.

Keep writing substance; I'll keep reading.

Charles Taylor (Charles Angus) said...

Hear, hear.

YagamiFire said...

Guess I'm an outlier even around here then since part of why I stuck around and read was precisely how things were said here. Words are spoken honestly. Passion is laid bare. Nothing is held back.

And why should it be? Because someone might get upset? Because someone might not like what someone says?

Good. People always hate to hear the truth. They have to have their beliefs challenged. And what they hate more than anything else is when those two things are the same...and when they know they're the same.

It is such a visceral reaction it can only result in anger from those not willing to look hard at themselves.

Or from those truly unwilling to learn.

C'est le vie.

My game is better day after day.

I leveled a city last night in game. Fucking leveled it like Hiroshima. It meant throwing out REAMS of work I had done on the city. And I didn't care because it was amazing. I worked on a city, the players worked for 38 sessions to get there...and because of one wayward deal with the devil (literally and figuratively) that city got devastated before the group ever set foot inside it.

I would have never done that years ago...even if it was the right thing to do. I would have been too reticent to throw away all that work. The old me though? He sucked. He's gone. Some day the current me will suck too...until then, I'm awesome because I work at being awesome.

Because I read things that challenge me and I challenge others openly.

I am here and am better for it and I don't mind saying you're all better for having me in your D&D ecosystem as well.

All is right in the world. Let's share and swear and all improve.

Maximillian said...

Well, there's argument, and then there's communication... To use your metaphor, some people receive your message and throw up a 400 error that should be a 500 error.

Your manner frequently irks me, but you have a large corpus here demonstrating loudly that there is substance and real thought behind your words. I think the word that fellow was looking for was ostentatious, not pretentious. Often a second reading will open my eyes to a new idea, sometimes you change my mind, and sometimes I come away feeling that you got it all wrong, but I never come away thinking you didn't consider your subject carefully.

Craig A. Glesner said...

I am with YagamiFire on this one. I dig the snarky, cursing posts full of coolness and sometimes things I needed to know.

Anthony Simeone said...

So, are you saying that nothing of substance can be written unless it's written in your confrontational style?

If so, I respectfully disagree.

I don't think a person writing in a neutral tone, without using sarcasm, is using a less valid method of discourse.

Is there such a thing as the vapid "marketing" language you reference? Of course. I'm just as quick to reject the saccharine platitudes of those who seek to not hold true discourse, but rather just put forth nothing of substance.

I understand the point of your tone, but it seems to me that, at some point, readers might not want to be belittled almost every time they read something from a specific author. Isn't it wise to consider other styles of writing, from time to time?

A human being doesn't have to be false and be a "nice guy" all the time, but being a nice guy doesn't mean you have nothing of substance to say.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Anthony,

Yes, I am saying nothing of substance can be written except with authority. That is why we say people are an "authority" on something. Because they KNOW.

Fuck your respect. I don't want it and I don't need it.

Where you say, "I don't think," who gives a shit what you think? Don't make empty statements. Produce an argument.

I don't give a shit what you're quick to reject. Produce an argument.

I don't give a shit what readers want. Clearly, they want to read what I write, because they flood here in droves. They read me everyday. They link me to hundreds of blogs. Maybe that's because I say what I think. I don't merchandise this blog to what readers want.

I don't give a shit if you're a nice guy. Being a "nice guy" is something of no value. David Wong make that argument brilliantly.

Over and over you sound like someone who sells shit for a living, to people stupid enough to believe your patter. Every argument begins with excuses for your sucking up to people. No one here cares about that. You're preaching to the wrong crowd.

Anthony Simeone said...

Hmm, written with "authority." So, anything that has "authority" MUST be written in connection with ire, profanity, sarcasm, and belittlement? This sounds awfully strange, and a bit far-fetched. And skewed to fit your own paradigm of what form of worthwhile discussion must be.

Really, I wasn't focused on being "nice," and if you noticed I expressed my own distrust of bland and blanket "nice guy" approaches.

My ultimate point was, what about a neutral, balanced, non-aggressive approach to discourse? Neutral does not mean nice. It means, well, rational. Not peppered with disdain. Like it or not, most people instinctually get their back up when someone comes at them with a certain type of language. But I suppose you see most people as being...what? Unworthy of your thoughts? I feel that's a, well, restrictive way to approach things, don't you think?

Since when do nastiness and deep thinking need to go hand-in-hand? Do you give no credibility to pure discussion, absent of either sickeningly sweet platitudes or caustic tones?

A person who seeks to be treated with respect during discourse is not a simple-minded fool. But you seem to think so. And I find that continually baffling. You're something of an enigma. And clearly you only read what you want to read from the words of those who dissent to your opinions. Your perception obfuscates the intent of the words. You seem to see attacks when only discussion is desired.

And you also seem to really hold a grudge.

Alexis Smolensk said...

You say "My ultimate point ..." but then you just ask questions, and indirect ones. What about a neutral, balanced, non-aggressive approach to discourse? I have no idea what you expect me to say there. It's not a direct question. I didn't say I had to be aggressive. That's your straw man. I am aggressive. Deal with it.

Bullshit statements like this: "Like it or not ..." So? What does my like have to do with it? What do people's reactions have to do with it. My actions are what they are. Deal with it.

"Unworthy"? I hadn't bothered to define it at all.

And once again, what you "feel" is bullshit. Present an argument. Still haven't heard one yet. I've just heard moralizing.

No one said nastiness and deep thinking went hand in hand, except YOU. Another straw man.

This IS pure discussion. Every word, an exact explanation of my disdain for your moralizing, your straw men and your unsupported opinions.

No one is automatically entitled to respect, just because they want it. THERE IS NO LAW IN THE ARENA.

I read everything. Your opinion about what I read or don't read is another straw man. Something you can invent and then argue against. You haven't addressed one word I've said. You haven't presented an argument. You just keep repeating yourself with different words.

A grudge? No. I simply call a spade a spade.

If you want to be spoken to differently, earn it.

Alexis Smolensk said...

Let ME propose your next answer ... because, Anthony, if you just write another long comment with more of this same shit in it, I'm just not going to bother publishing it. You don't get to endlessly fill up the comments field with the same thought.

Here's what I want you to do. PROVE that the manner of discourse makes a difference to the level of intellect of a discourse. Don't just suggest that it does, or tell me again what people like or don't like. I mean, actually provide some sort of a priori argument that attempts to PROVE it.

Anthony Simeone said...

Actually, it seems that YOU believe that the manner of discourse makes a difference to the level of intellect, or rather "substance," as you put it. Therefore, why don't YOU let US know if the manner of discourse affects the value of said discourse. And, you also seem to state that speaking/writing with what you call "authority" means that you MUST write in a confrontational manner. To which I disagree, and I would wager that I'm not alone in that sentiment.

Honestly, I feel like I'm raising valid arguments, but all you seem to want to do is play at picking apart words in some sort of verbiage game. I think direct answers would be more effective.

Anthony Simeone said...

To attempt to get some responses from you that don't entail long-winded deconstructions of my word selection, I will make another attempt to get you to actually answer some questions...and I will be as direct as possible (hopefully, they will meet your seemingly narrow definition of what "direct" means):

QUESTION: Do you believe a discussion has no "authority" or "substance" to it if it is not delivered in a confrontational, aggressive tone?

QUESTION: So, if one must earn respect (I agree with you), do you believe that they must be treated with DISRESPECT while earning respect? Could it perhaps be possible to give them an attempt to prove worthiness of respect using a neutral, unbiased stance before treating them with disrespect?

Note: once again, as I’ve stated over and over, at NO TIME have I EVER said directly that you should change your tone. I merely have, over and over, suggested that you consider the consequences of your tone, as food for thought. That’s all.

Also, I don’t think stating that people like to be treated with respect is “moralizing.” If you disagree, that’s your problem. But I think that the evidence to the fact that neutral, non-aggressive discussion facilitates clear discussion.

By the way, you talk about unsupported opinions, but I’m sorry, from where I’m standing, you do the same thing all the time.

AND, finally, I’d like to point out that, due to overuse, throwing out the term “straw man” in relation to someone’s argument has now itself become a straw man. I've seen it used, on an increasing basis, for folks to blanketly invalidate the statements of others, as a replacement for intelligent discussion. Perhaps people are too busy to actually form cogent arguments so, for some inane reason, they default to slander. Oh what a world we live in...

Alexis Smolensk said...

More and more.

I did not say I believe the manner of discourse makes a difference. Your straw man.

I'm under no obligation to answer any question you ask. The whole problem with your position is that it depends upon me answering questions that then feed your suppositions. It is called the Socratic method and I'm not buying into it.

I've asked you to present an argument. You are under no obligation to do so. However, your continued attempt to elicit the reaction you want from me demonstrates you don't have an argument. Your questions are loaded and invalid.

I've already said, I have never stated that an argument must be aggressive in order to be valid. I have said that I have chosen to be aggressive. That's my choice. It has no bearing on the value of my argument.

If one must earn respect, then it follows that if you are being disrespected, you haven't earned it yet. I disrespect the hell out of you, Anthony. That is because you haven't yet presented an argument. You're trying to box me into a moral position of your invention, accusing me of doing things I'm not doing or believing things I haven't said I believe. This is rhetoric, not an argument.

You have repeatedly ignored me, in order to return to crowing your single point - that I could obtain the results I obtain by being polite. It is an argument many people have tried to make to me.

I will not be polite because it suits people. I will not modify my speech for the purpose of satisfying other people. I will modify my speech because it PLEASES me, when it PLEASES me, and for no other reason.

There are many people here on this blog who can attest to my speaking to them pleasantly and considerately. That is because they have earned my respect. You have not.

Finally, I am sick of this. So, you're done here. I've tried to explain to you why I won't simply give you a forum to repeat the same thing over and over again. I've explained that I'm not obligated to answer your questions. I've explained that I am not interested in embracing your proposition. That covers everything.

I am not beholden to you. I do not answer to you. This is something you plainly do not understand. Goodbye.

James C. said...

Cliff notes on the above exchange between Alexis and Anthony for those who skipped wide swaths to the bottom:

Alexis: I reserve the right to be prickly and suffer no fools on my blog because the content of my writing is of such a quality that anybody I'm interested in having read it will look past this and anybody who can't look past this I intend to keep away anyway.

Anthony: Why can't you just be NICE?

Alexis Smolensk said...

Bwah hah hah hahaha!

Thank you James.

Craig A. Glesner said...

Nice one, James C. Very nice and succinct too.