Friday, January 11, 2008

I love comments

Maintaining a blog is always an interesting experience.  For the most part I don't get many comments, but I received two today.  I found them both fascinating, enough so to comment on them here. 

In response to my post Tao of the Cowboy, "tao" posted the following:

All judgement is immoral and all effort to change somebody is destructive and violent. And that's what cults and churches have been doing up to now. That's why Lao Tzu is incomparable, unique, unsurpassed before and after. His vision is the ultimate vision of spontaneity, suchness, nature. If you understand him your life will start moving in a totally different rhythm. You will become a non-interference, WU-WEI. And only when you don't interfere in another's life do you respect life that's what reverence of life is all about.

That's what I'm talking about.  I'm guessing this is a real Taoist here, not a stupid poser like me.  Thank you for the comment.  It's stuff like this that makes my time here worth while.

Then there's the next one.  "henry rollins is an idiot like you" left this amazingly insightful narrative in response to my post Henry Rollins for President:

Christ, you're a fucking idiot

Right on both counts.  You're very observant.  One might even think you had read the name of the blog.  Thank you for several consecutive minutes of unrestrained mirth.  Or, in words you might understand better: LOL.

I had to share the irony that I only received two comments, and they came from opposite ends of the intellectual spectrum.  Keep 'em comin' guys.


  1. You only need two comments at that point. Beautiful, like yin and yang.

  2. "All judgement is immoral"

    I love this paradox. It's a common one.

    Like "All generalizations are wrong." It's such a concise way to contradict yourself.

    It's also like trying to talk about Nothing. As soon as you label it and make it a concept, it's no longer Nothing.

    There's this, too: If something were Nothing, it wouldn't have a label or associated concept because you can't imagine or discuss a Nothing. You also can't use Everything to argue that what's left over is Nothing.

    All along the way, Nothing is Something here.

    There are some things that just can't be expressed without getting fouled up along the way, and being judgmental is one of them.

    "You're really judgmental" is itself a judgment.

    So is "All judgement is immoral..."

    Not only is a value judgment being made about being judgmental, the commenter also made the mistake of explicitly mentioning morality. Morality is *built* on judgment.

    "...and all effort to change somebody is destructive and violent. And that's what cults and churches have been doing up to now."

    More judgment.

    "That's why Lao Tzu is incomparable, unique, unsurpassed before and after."

    Mighty judgment here. Not only that, but we have a comparison:

    "Their churches are wrong, but my belief/philosophical system is right."

    Even better, the contrast brings with it an implied comparison, which is odd since "Lao Tzu is incomparable."

    If he's incomparable, then the appropriateness of contrasting with the church is irrelevant - it shouldn't even be possible to do so.

    "His vision is the ultimate vision of spontaneity, suchness, nature."

    Judgments! And we've moved from comparatives to superlatives.

    "If you understand him your life will start moving in a totally different rhythm. You will become a non-interference, WU-WEI. And only when you don't interfere in another's life do you respect life that's what reverence of life is all about."

    Whether intended or not, the mere act of leaving a comment interferes with the lives of others. Intent doesn't matter here - only the results.

    Now, given that there are so many contradictions here, paradoxes, hypocrisies, and statements obviously made from a position of self-appointed authority, I either have to question Taoism as a workable system, or I have to question this person's value as a good Taoist specimen.

    I don't know what Taoism is all about - just that this comment irked me a bit.

    It's the "You're judgmental and I'm not!" attitude.


    Hope you're well, Mr. The Cowboy.

  3. @Celes: yes, in exactly that order too. It's like art.

    @Rory: How ya doin mister? To be honest December/January were rough months, and I avoided posting anything (blog posts and/or comments) for exactly that reason. When I'm down like that, what I write reflects it. Hence the Santanator post. I was really tempted to delete than one, but as it didn't really dip too far into the self-pity/loathing area I hate, I decided to leave it. It was really just kindof angry, and while that sortof thing can come back to haunt one, I really want to avoid deleting posts.

    You make some interesting points about the tao comment. I hadn't really considered it from that point of view. Taoism philosophically avoids any kind of judgement. It doesn't really talk about immorality much, because the concept is itself a judgement like you said. The idea is that if I say X is good, then Y is bad. Kindof the light side/dark side of the force sortof thing. You can only call somebody good, if somebody else is bad. It is paradoxical to say that judgement is immoral, but it's not taoism to be judgemental.

    I found it interesting all the same, because in the cult everything was judged (and usually judged to be immoral). That's quite honestly one of the appeals to me of Taoism, however I'm hardly an expert on Taoism.

  4. I know what you mean about posting things that later you feel like you want to delete. Later we realize what we actually said, and sometimes what we have to say isn't pretty. Then, I look at the awesomeness of neopoleon, and I'm inspired at Rory's apparent openness to talk about anything and everything. Sure, you may get flack for it later, but at the same time think of all the readers who are reading and saying "hell yah" and feeling some connection to you and what you're saying. There are dangers of being real on the internet, judgment (there's that word again) from others mostly. I think to continue writing, and being in general, to some degree you have to say 'screw it, this is me- take it or leave it'.

  5. @Celes:
    One wishes one could be even a little as awesome a Rory :D He's a much braver man than I am.

    My most critical reader is myself. Basically I was just trying to avoid having this become an online diary, where I spill my guts about the stupid things I brood about when life starts to suck. I try to write things I would want to read myself, and when I'm down like that it just ain't happening. I'm fine if my posts take a darker turn when life ain't so great, but when I read things like "oooh life sucks the world hates me I can't go on" I think "who is this dufus? Oh yeah, me." The crap that spews forth is not really who I am, or at least not who I like to think I am. Maybe I'm wrong.

    Anyway, I'm feeling much better now (see Night Court). Halo 3 also provides me with the opportunity to slaughter mass quantities of aliens, which seems to improve my mood, oddly enough.

    New post coming soon.

  6. Yeah- 'life sucks so wah' isn't really interesting reading material, but I think you can still write darker posts while still being interesting to even yourself (and while being yourself). I think they key is to avoid a general whine... you can pick something specific- or tell a story. Like... if you're depressed and going on an alcohol binge, you can delve into how alcohol really is a drug like any other. Rather than saying 'Poop, life sucks so I'm drinking into oblivion', suddenly you have an interesting post picking apart treatment of drugs in our culture and readers are going 'Yeah. Hell yeah.' or 'poop on this guy, alcohol and nascar are great'. Yeah, it can be hard to figure out the difference between posting dark stuff and posting whining (and it is a fine line)- but it's worth exploring if you believe in that taoist non-judgmental stuff. Your dark side is part of you and don't judge it. And as far as a diary... well, it is a web log. Bravery is a big part posting online. In my opinion, the best blogs are people who take that chance to put themselves out there. Sure, you may make a few angsty posts, a few uninteresting posts, but to get good stuff you have to screw up too. If you go through the Rory archives, I'm sure you'll find some posts that aren't very good even on his blog. I've written shitty stuff too- I've also written a lot of shitty stuff other people think is good. That's art. I know you write for yourself, but if that was the only reason, you wouldn't be posting online. :) Ultimately, how much of you and what of you goes into this is up to you- that's just my two cents.

  7. It's avoiding that whining part that's so tricky. For most of the last month or so I was fairly sure I couldn't do it. I suppose I just needed some wallow-in-my-own-pain time in order to work through it and come out of it.

    I'm fairly certain my readership has gone up since Rory's linked to me a couple of times now. To be honest it's a little disconcerting, but so far I've tried to keep writing the same way I would if I had no readers at all. When I was fourteen I wrote an entire novel, and never showed it to anybody. Putting myself out there for the world isn't easy for me, but I'm trying :D

  8. I'm not saying it's easy. I'm saying I'd like to see more posts. :) I think writing as if you don't have an audience is impossible. I try writing for myself, and posting for people who will love you for being you.

    And if you want to write, keep writing. If you feel like crap and think you'll write shit, write it. You don't have to post it. And then it's out of you or you've at least started to work things out on paper/screen. Later you might even come back to that writing and be able to pick something useful out of there.

    I have these little 'journal' type things that have collage and writing and drawing and scraps of my life. It's like a sketch book, but for writing, art, anything and very loose. I write all sorts of dumb ideas, whiny things in them. If I need an idea, often I'll paw through a few. Sometimes I find great stuff that I seriously can't even remember writing. But then again, I'm crazy.

    I started doing this after trying to keep journals. I could never do the dating and daily entry thing. Then I made the startling discovery that since these were just for me, I didn't need to make something linear.

    Just some ideas. Writing is entertaining, but it's good therapy too.

    And it is hard. Don't think I'm disagreeing.

    What was your novel about?

  9. You're right. More posts coming, just remember, you asked for it :D.

    The novel was a fairly typical semi-fantasy novel about a prince whose father is killed and the kingdom ransacked by the "evil" rival while he's just a boy. His mother (the queen) esacapes and raises him in anonymity while an old mentor prepares him for combat. It briefly ran through his childhood covering escaping from the military slave raids while his childhood friends were captured. He ran into some of his friends later as enemies. Anyway he comes of age and travels the world rallying the free nations to unite and fight back, falls in love with a princess, leads his army to victory then dies in mutually fatal single combat with the bad guy, who turns out to be the son of the evil god.

    The plot seemed really cool at 14, but in retrospect it wasn't as creative as I thought. Only a couple of things made it interesting:
    1) I couldn't come up with character names that sounded "Fantasy-ish" enough, so I created the equivalent of a cracker jack box encoder to come up with character names. They sounded offbeat, but some of them worked in a strange sort of way.
    2) I created a rather complex religion and back story, covering the creation of the world, the evolution of the gods, and just exactly where the bad guy came from and why the main character had to die to complete the story.
    3) I intended to tie it in with a series of science fiction stories I had also written and never showed to anybody. Actually, I may have shown one to my wife years later, but I never finished the novels. Maybe someday....