I'm not bitch-slapping anyone. I'm just, as I say, feeling off.
On the other hand, there have been some cool posts that I've neglected to link to because of my scribbling distraction. My scribstraction. Like carolyn_claire's post on writing and fannish incest.
And someone had a friends-locked meta post revisiting the subject of list debate and styles of opinion that got me thinking--yet again--about this. I was going to go long or wide on the subject, or whatever that football term is, but I think I'll go short at the risk of offending through concision, because if I don't get it out now, I know I'll never say anything, and though that might be for the best...well, there is no completion to that thought, never mind. In short, I always come down on the "wrong" side. I know, in my head, that keen debate is "healthy" the same way I know that Brussels sprouts are healthy. But I flinch from it just the same. I'm almost always going to prize style over substance, tone over logic, and--maybe most importantly, I'm beginning to think--relativism over certainty. This particular post was pretty much "Strong Opinions, Yay!" And I'm on the other side of the stadium, waving a big foam thumbs-down mitt, because I've never met a strong opinion I didn't dislike.
I know that may sound insane to a lot of people, because conviction of belief is supposed to be a moral good, but it just grates on me. There's this whole premise, I think, on which "Strong Opinions, Yay!" (I'm going to call that SOY from now on) is based, which is that the sharp edge of one opinion hones another. But to me, it's the painful clashing of swords and even if someone doesn't intend to blood an opponent, the risk is there. (I'm *so* not Lex Luthor, obviously.) It's been said many times that qualifying--that whole verbal style of disclaimers a la "IMHO, my feeling is, just my opinion," along with such wavery meeps as "mabye, I think, I tend to think, I kinda think, I sometimes think," et cetera--is unnecessary. That it's *implied* whenever you state something, and every reader should understand that.
No. I don't think so. (Heh.) I think that verbal style is in fact critical to many people, and that it's the very force of some people's verbalizations that makes other people flinch back, regardless of what's being said. It's *how* something's being said, and not always *what's* being said, that makes a discussion flame up. And that's not a new truism in itself, and sure, you can say that *other* people are the touchy ones and should grow up, but I think people should own their own friction, too. It's a whole frictive style thing: the stronger you try to push your beliefs as fact on someone, in opposition, the more likely you are to trigger pushback. It's just a natural interactive law. Qualification is verbal oil that reduces this kind of friction. It's the lube of discourse. Yay, lube.
And I just really like discourse with lube. Discussion that's sexy, slippery, flexible, and cooperative, like an orgy. I prefer that to a style that emulates battle--where, say, formal debate is like fencing, where you keep the distance of swords between you, and that distance adds a stylized coldness to the talk. (And maybe ad hominem attacks and flames are like boxing, where you're landing blows right on someone's person.)
Aside from all that, I think there may be a very basic philsophical difference that informs these debating styles--like, we consider the styles superficial, but they may in fact represent a much deeper schism of relativism and absolutism. And here's where I'd need another thousand words to try and get my thoughts across, because I'm not necessarily talking about these terms as ascribed to one's moral outlook on the world, so much as one's...psychological?
Anyway, I'm just blithering, at greater length than intended. And now I need to touch base with