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All I have is a voice
to undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain of the sensual man on the street
And the lie of authority, whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State,
And no-one exists alone. Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police.
We must love one another or die.— W. H. Auden
- Highlights from “Self Reliance”
- 1. go out 2. go in 3. prophet
- Everything I Need To Know I Learned From Napping
- The Five Higher Laws
- Self Esteem for Smart People (Part 1)
- What’s so Dumb about Self-Help?
- Self Esteem for Smart People (Part 2)
- Self Esteem for Smart People (Part 3)
- God is Totally Naked
- The Problems with Farming Detroit
- Taking & Letting Go
- Logic vs. Depression: FIGHT!
- We Are Humanity (a Shaolin Prayer)
- Something Shakespeare Forgot
- Not Why I Hate Religion
- Stuck Embodied: Lessons in Exercise
- Buddha teaches the Internet: How to correct someone and not be an asshole
- How to Not Go Crazy
- Synthesis & Time Travel Advice
- This Is A Dark Age
- Art vs Liking It
- Religion & the Bechdel Test
- A Path that Diverges Eight Ways
- A Roundup of the Best Writing Advice
- Execute the cold virus(es)!
- You too can be an asshole
Flip the coin: Worst to Best
What's the most common "outraged, slung-in-the-heat-of-an-argument" thing you get called?
Answering this started out as a self-flagellation session, for me, but then turned into a stupidly valuable lesson. If you need a lesson, maybe give it a try. :)
For me, the answer is "INHUMAN!". I always figured that was a reference to my calculating argumentative tactics — when I care more about being right, "cold" doesn't even begin to describe how I come off, I'm sure. But today I realized something different about that insult and its causes. My calculating nature and professional skillz have made me reflexively excellent, in some contexts at least, at realizing when the emotional labor I'm being asked to do (almost always in subtext) isn't worth the outcome. And when I'm in Philosophy or Argument Mode, I have no difficulty flat refusing to do that work, in probably horrendously-frustratingly-inarguable ways.
I think I've been called "inhuman" at least five times in heated yelling (no, not recently! whew), and similar things who knows how many times. But it took until today for me to see that the mechanism that causes that reaction is uhhhh, morally justified and, in so far as it's treated as unacceptable, sexist. (It absolutely is a masculine reflex, the assumption that "we are arguing and I am your equal and you will do your own damn work". It plays extra badly with people who are mentally using my feminine aspects to plot their argument, exacerbated by the fact that, if we're being intellectually competitive, I don't tend to give a shit if you faceplant in front of everyone because you gave me a way to trip you.)
So….I'm really good, sometimes, at saying "um no, my job here is not to do that work for you, do it yourself or gtfo of this argument", and also knowing when it's defensible and provable to do so. I also absolutely will just cold walk away, drop the whole thing, and not care one whit, too: Intellectualization, logicking, is one of very few areas where I'm mostly sure of myself AND also ego-free enough to back down gracefully and painlessly (often to the consternation of opponents) if I'm wrong.
I'm comfortable there, so I'm confident there, and unlike in so much of life, I have a very clear idea of what slack I will and will not take up for the other side. And people react violently to that, but…maybe not the parts of them I want to interact with or be respected by anyway.
So yeah. Today the worst insult I've been tossed turned out to be pointing to a really *good* thing about myself, that I hadn't previously recognized or trusted. I'll be darned. :)