Sunday, May 23, 2004

friend update

First item:

Good call, Carpemundi! In the post just below this one, Carpemundi, with the help of an online bug guide, conjectures that my little beast is either a centipede or a millipede, and probably not a silverfish.

The results are in: I've got a house centipede. If you click the links, you'll see pictures that show exactly what's inside my plastic container.

I thought I knew centipedes. One reason why I resisted the centipede label is that, when I envision centipedes, I usually think of them as "twistier" and "turnier" than what I have (see here and here and here, for example). My centipede tends to keep its body straight; it zooms and zips around like a silverfish when it's agitated.

Thanks for the online resource and research, Carpemundi. I'm going to stick that link in my sidebar (interestingly, the guide advertises itself as a reference for North American insects-- but it seemed quite helpful in identifying a Korean specimen).

Second item:

A positively thunderous response from the Maximum Leader re: Dr. Vallicella's answer to a reader, Mr. Mangan. The Maximum Leader makes reference to my previous post quoting both Mr. Mangan and Dr. Vallicella, and says the following:

Your Maximum Leader was not upset with Dennis Mangan, but with Dr. Vallicella. You see Mr. Mangan's delicate sensibilities appear to be unsettled when he reads some of the scatological writings of my good friend, Kevin. He states that Kevin's blog is "not a blog I want to read."

Fine. He looked over Kevin's site and decided that it was not for him. Great! But what really sticks in your Maximum Leader's craw was Dr. Vallicella's response. Your Maximum Leader will summarize it thus: "Yeah, Kevin is a really bright guy who can comment intelligently on philosophical matters. But, all this potty humour is better relegated to somewhere where I wouldn't have to sift through it to get the good stuff. And by the way, I only linked to him because he linked to me."

What a sad response.

It is as if Dr. Vallicella was embarrassed for providing the link on his site. Dr. Vallicella was apologizing for upsetting Mr. Mangan's sensibilities by providing a link to Kevin's site. And at the same time he was trying not to offend Kevin, who is after all just being authentically Kevin.

Kevin's site is Kevin's site. You take it for what it is, or you don't visit. One thing that is so appealing about it is the very fact that it is both highbrow and scatological. Your Maximum Leader cannot think of another site quite like it. And that is its charm. You read it (or choose not to read it) for what it is.

I really had no clue that Dr. V's quote would provoke such ire in my friends (though to be honest, I've heard the Air Marshal gripe about Boomers before, and maybe I should've known better). I want to thank both Mike and Dave for their responses, but I really wasn't offended by either Dr. V's thoughts or Mr. Mangan's sentiments.

A little history:

I started posting online in 1997, when I subscribed to AOL. There was an area in AOLspace called The Amazing Instant Novelist (keyword: NOVEL) that acted as a forum for writers. AIN was subdivided into message board areas like Poetry, Short Stories, Opinion ("the Soapbox," as it was called), and Humor. Back in 1997, AIN's message boards had a 4000-character limit and very archaic posting mechanisms. There were other constraints, too: the boards were policed by staffers whose screen names all had the prefix NOVL. AOL, for those who haven't realized this yet, is one enormous police state. Most boards on AOLspace are regularly patrolled.

I started off in the Poetry area, but my "decompoesy," as I liked to call it, earned the ire of the NOVL monitors and of fellow posters (most of whom were exhibiting the conformist, prisoner-like behaviors cited in the Stanford Prison Experiment). A lot of this was no different from the eye-rolling, prissy sentiments I encountered from various English teachers in high school, chief among them being Mrs. Jones, a very nice, somewhat prudish woman who, just like Dr. Vallicella, was convinced I was wasting my time (Ms. Oxley, on the other hand, busted a gut whenever she read my gross short stories). I've lived with such sentiments for years; at this point, they just roll off me.

[PS: I moved from the AIN Poetry boards to the Humor area, and found my home there. I still got my fair share of disparaging comments from the No-nut Gallery, but the ambience was much more welcoming.]

I've heard worse critiques than "not a site I want to read." Annika was offering jocular praise when she called me twisted (a high compliment), but I've had respondents who were quite sincere in labeling me mentally ill. One person read a particularly disgusting poem of mine (buy my book and read the poem titled "WOOF") and wrote something like, "I think you have done the things you've written about in this poem. I think you are very sick and in need of help." I thought this comment was extremely funny, because it's an indication of just how mentally cloistered some people are. I've been attacked by illiterate online trolls, ripped into by more literate opponents, and the whole mess has been an enriching experience. At this point, I've heard it all-- I'm condescending, I have a big ego, I'm a closed-minded bastard, and the ever-popular FUCK YOU.

The Maximum Leader also writes:

I (your Maximum Leader) have known Kevin for nearly 30 years. And I can say that I have in the past said that we needed to figure out a way to harness Kevin's powers for good. I admit that I feel a little guilty now about those words.

No need to feel guilty, Mike. I knew you were speaking jokingly; my own post didn't make this obvious, but in my mind I make a clear distinction between the joshing remarks by you, Annika, and others, and the more "serious" remarks by folks like Mr. Mangan.

I could quote Mike's post at length here, but instead I'll invite you to read it if you're curious. I'm grateful for his response, and for Dave's, but Mike is right when he says, "I know that this whole issue has likely upset me more than Kevin." I'm not upset at all, but I'm happy to see the loyalty of friends.

Friends who extol the virtues of the Devil's various brews.

Dr. V has an interesting post here re: the virtue of not wasting one's mornings, but it also talks about not wasting one's evenings. Dr. V quotes Alphonse Gratry on the relevance of one's evenings to good practice:

A very serious question of practice is involved in the use of your evenings, in respecting your evenings. We have just spoken of what can be called the consecration of the morning. Let us now speak of consecrating our evenings. It is at this point or never, that you must have the strength to break with your present customs. I declare flatly that minds are formed and grow, just according to the real organization of their evenings. (Logic, pp. 533-534)

I'm curious as to what style of meditation Dr. V engages in.


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