Wednesday, 09 May 2007

CUE BLOGWIDE STRIKE ACTION (Many people want to know: "Are you kidding? No new posts until five hundred comments?" The answer: I am not kidding. There will be no new posts until there are five hundred comments on this thread.) There will be no new posts on Acephalous until there are 500 (five hundred) comments on this one. The person who posts the five hundredth comment wins the honor of suggesting the topic of the subsequent post. Any comments containing the number four, a dollar sign or the open bracket/fancy-open bracket will not count toward the total, as those keys are missing from my keyboard. Suggested discussion topics can be found below the fold. Possible reasons for this BLOGWIDE STRIKE ACTION. Potential topics for my next post. Whether there should be a mandatory word minimum and/or maximum for it. Which suggested topic could do the most damage to my academic career and why. How much easier it would be to reach 500 comments if LCC commented here. The weather and how nice/terrible it has been lately. Whether this is a strike-action or a hostage-taking. The possibility that 500 comments will not be written, and I'll be forced to either 1) write them myself or 2) close shop. Whether comments violating the spirit of the strike/contest should be counted. The fact that I am the author of a study. The fact that in the '90s when Kurt Vonnegut lived next door to Keith Hernandez, Vonnegut would greet him with a hearty "You're Keith Hernandez!" They would often discuss Hernandez's favorite writer, Victor Hugo, and his favorite Hugo novel, The Toilers of the Sea. Rich's pre-suggestion: "Look at this horror. Do clients of sex workers really base their reviews on, in part, whether the sex worker has a Ph.D.? That seems exceptionally perverse. When I was a grad student, the local free paper had a long-running sex chat ad with some line about "We will talk about any subject", and so of course someone joked that he should call and ask about a problem with his dissertation. But in this case, maybe it really would work."
Why I Did It (And I Did, And I'll Do It Again) Before writing up the post the victorious Mr. Kugelmass requested, I thought I'd share the reasoning behind this little experiment with those of you (slackers/ingrates/pedophiles) who stopped keeping track of the previous post/strike/hostage-taking: As I sat down to compose my talk, I realized how much different things seem now than when I first started blogging. As I've said before, originally the blog was an excuse for me to vent at a world—before you ask, I took those posts down long ago—and not just any world, but one so uncouth it decided I deserved cancer. I was an angry boy. But it quickly turned into more than that, as I started to write light pieces about mild annoyances which had the salutary effect of making them disappear. (Example.) Then I joined the Valve and started tackling major annoyances. (Example, example, example.) Despite being the high point of what Adam's called the Theory Wars, it was an incredibly productive time for me, intellectually speaking ... and despite his further claim that no one ever changes his or her mind on the basis of a blog conversation, this is when I changed my mind about Theory. Not about theory/Theory, mind you, but about my relation to the body of thought which goes by that name. I didn't return to the theory crazy days of my youth, but I started to reenvision my notion of what the profession is and what theory's place is in it. (Example, example.) The growth may not have been as transparent as it felt, but I thought I'd pretty obviously turned a corner. Then came this. A ridiculously stupid debate with a certified idiot who could've cared less about what I thought and lazily ascribed to me beliefs I didn't hold, positions I found unsound, and then, to top it all off, he went on a petty bender the likes of which I'd never before encountered. I realized I had two choices: I could respond with a detailed account of his pettiness and thereby look petty myself; or I could ignore it and allow his misrepresentation of my claims to stand. We all know which route I took. Thing is, I can't say for certain that if I had to do it again, I'd do it any differently. I realized, then, that I'd been backed into a corner. And not just any corner, no, but one which was profoundly unfun and consumed time and attention I neither had nor wanted to expend. So I decided to shut down the blog. Disappear from a scene whose grievances had grown so tangled that I couldn't figure out what would set people off—I mean, really, when a post which could've been titled "Foucault Is Supremely Nifty & I Love Him" becomes a flashpoint, the only conclusion is that the system is broken. Shutting it down seemed the only sane option. That same day, I met with my advisor and made him a deal: I would have a draft of a chapter done...

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