Friday, 13 April 2007

On the Impossibility of (Online) Conversation; or, Liar, Evidence, Evidence, Liar (The material below the fold is B-O-R-I-N-G. You've been warned.) I'm of two minds on this matter today. On the one hand, the current book-event is a smashing success, with Paul Giles and Joe Kugelmass' recent posts being particularly sharp. I especially like Joe's insistence that we acknowledge the Continental roots of Amanda's historicist argument. As he points out, the boundaries between Anglo-American and Continental theoretical traditions are as arbitrary as those Claybaugh identifies between the Anglo and American literary traditions. This event is exemplifies what is best about online interaction: a graduate student at Irvine (whose exams are in a week) can place his work alongside that of an acknowledged the Director of the Rothermere American Institute at the University of Oxford. Sadly, the more realistic model may be what I've witnessed at Long Sunday of late. "Craig" or "craig" or "Craig [redacted]" or "craig [redacted]" (whichever he prefers) has banned me from a thread in which he willfully and repeatedly misrepresents what I have written because, much to his annoyance, I insist on pointing out that what he claims I wrote bears no relation to what I did. Of course, he refuses to link to what I wrote, making it difficult for readers to find the arguments I allegedly offer. Initially, I thought this a mere oversight in blog protocol, but then I reconsidered. Why? I'm not altogether sure. (Outside of a general desire to give people—even online interlocutors—the benefit of the doubt.) He'd already done this once in a post entitled "Regarding the Scull Controversy." In that post, he discussed an essay which only I introduced into the discussion of Scull, and attacked some unnamed person for daring to write about Foucault from within "the narrow perspective of American English departments." Even though he did resort to personal insult—calling me a "derivative hack," a phrase which gains with redundancy what it lacks in truth—I thought the possibility of debate remained open. I even enjoined him to read what I'd written instead of what he thought I had. He refused. Then, when I wrote that we should talk about Foucault more, he wrote that I claimed we should talk about him less. And again, he included no link to he original post, choosing instead to mine it for quotations flattering to his notion of what I said. That they mean nothing of the sort is irrelevant. The fact that this is a simple matter of reading what I wrote is irrelevant. He wants to prop up his flagging confidence by slagging me, and will do whatever it takes to do it ... even if that means banning me from a thread in which he discusses my post. Of course, he can't say as much. He can't admit that he's banned me because I've caught him in a lie and insist on pointing it out. With me there to correct him, he would have to defend his decision to manipulate what I've written; as he knows he cannot, he...

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