Re: virus: E-Dialectic

John ''!Boolean'' Williams (
Wed, 11 Jun 1997 23:41:37 -0400

At 01:20 AM 6/12/96 -0500, you wrote:
>This is a feature of speaking that I do not like. It takes me time to
>think of what to say. This message is a good example. Two days now
>since I read it first. In that way, e-mail has allowed me to say things
>that I could never have otherwise.

I usually respond immediately, like now -- but occasionally I do wait a
couple of days. :-) At least, I get to edit my thoughts first.
>I asked my dad about your message, and the first thing he pointed out
>was your use of "persuassive rhetoric". Rhetoric is not a conversation,
>it's a lecture.

Ugh. I really didn't expect another definitions argument on this point. I
don't know you your father is, so I can't say for sure his position isn't
vaild. I can say that throughout my college career as an English student, I
often heard rhetoric to be broadly defined as "word choice" and more
narrowly defined as "communication for the explicit purpose of persuading."
In this sense, rhetoric can be writing, or lecturing, or discussing. In
many ways, what is going on here is a melding of all three, which is what
interests me.

Rhetoric in the classical sense is how to create a lecture. But in a more
modern sense -- and I use the term loosely -- rhetoric is a more broad
compositional and linguistic subject, that is indeed older than English
studies (at least, in America) in the modern university.

Again, I can see where you're dad got that definition, but it does not mesh
with the one I was taught. In cases where two doctorates disagree, well,
what can you say?

>This looks like the level 3 meme mutating into a new form. I'd say that
>it's effects are the same in dialogue as in thought. More ideas.
>Better understanding of the issue. But more difficult to achieve.

I do think it takes a bit longer, yeah.

>While I'm on level three discussions, how would one go about defending
>the objection that, at heart, level three is about a call to
>intellectual hypocracy? That the entire idea is to use any and all
>paradyms /when they are useful/, and not because they are "right" or
>"true" seems to me to be a really good way to justify saying that "I'm
>not going to argue on your turf of rationality now because I think
>reason is the wrong tool. Instead, I'm going to use [memetics, faith,
>the flips of coins] and to talk with me you'll have to do the same."

This is a good argument against post-structuralist thought. The response is
usually, "oh! so now you feel the need to make an artifical standard by
which to judge the world, just because you can't deal with uncertainty?"

And the non-post-structuralist says "That's not what I meant."

And the post-structuralist laughs cynicaly and buys himself another
pitcher, because alchol and attitude is the best dodge to a difficult

>not failure to adhere to some "ultimate" standard merely claiming that
>all is relative and thus I can think (do?) what I want regardless of
>your wishes?

Oh! so now you feel the need to make an artifical standard by which to
judge the world, just because you can't deal with uncertainty?


Honestly, I think the post-structuralist position is less inaccurate than
some (my opinion, of course), but ultimately empty. It's the nihilism
predicted. I think what we need to do is, at some point, say "well, screw
it. *I* think *this* is important, and no facts are going to get in the
way." :-)

That's what my older post - "death of logic," et all - was trying to start.
How to we build something out of apparent nothing (or chaos), and rely on
it to some degree, but keep aware that we don't *have* the truth? How does
one have faith, without faith?

> But I think that memetics tells us the system
>will evolve itself. That, in fact, e-mail conversations will take on a
>dynamic that helps to spread meme's in the most successful way simply
>becuase that is what is needed. The system here is so /open/ (unlike,
>say, television) that evolution really makes sense. So the reason that
>we, say, change tread names occasionally seems to me to be just a facett
>of the memes' attempts to spread themselves.

Hmm. I guess I can't see things happening naturally like this, although to
a certain extent they probably do. I'd like to try to tackle it, see if I
can predict where it's going, and ride the wave.
^^^ gratuitous serfer phrase. I live in a landlocked region, and
can't even wax a board.

>it leads. Remember: memetics is just a tool. It is not reality, it is
>just a /useful/ model of it.)

Oh, NOW you're doing "useful models." I see.



darn commodore habits.

John Williams ICQ Address: 1213689
"See my loafers? Former gophers!"
Various Artists: Raising the Tide of Mediocrity for Two Years