Frag-ments: Cyber wars

By Andy Pragacz

I have recently been captivated by the online responses to Mac Weekly articles. They are, largely, more interesting that the printed pieces. A case in point is Ludvikus’s post to “Response about Israel-Palestine;” it is so outrageous even I do not know what to make of it. (I almost submitted it as this week’s ‘Frag-ments’, you will see why when you read it.) A number of responses have appeared against ‘Frag-ments’ as well, and insofar as ‘Frag-ments’ was meant as a dialogue I engage one of them here, namely the post by ‘Distressed philosopher’ in regards to “Frag-ments: Don’t worry” of March 12, 2010.Dear ‘Distressed philosopher,’

In order to make my argument clearer for you, (#) as you have no sense of irony, I have developed a useful labeling scheme to elucidate my points. When () appears at the beginning of a sentence it denotes that this is my point, (–) means it is not very important but helps the thing move along, (#) means ‘I just showed you up’ and ($) means this sentence is bullshit, I do not really believe it, it is ironic or I have nothing to back up my claim.

($) Going to your argument. (–) I am not going to engage you on the philosophical ‘issues’ you have brought up. (–) You state that my argument is unclear and ‘not coherent’ (making it a wonder you could rationally respond to it) which does count as a critique of ‘Frag-ments’ because coherency was never my intention. (–) Later on in your post you postulate that my article “symptomatic of a certain type of student that would rather use fancy words and vague/pretty locutions then really try to understand the positions of others and develop clear and thoughtful critiques.” () What does it meant to ‘develop clear and thoughtful critiques’ or basically to make sense in your view? () In many ways, I feel that making too much sense is never a good thing. (–) I believe that in order to make sense one has to use commonsensical, pre-given categories and in the process collude with dominant power relations. (–) For example, saying ‘H1N1 is a virulent virus that poses a threat to the national well-being’ I have made too much sense, learned nothing about H1N1 that those in power did not want me to know and I have not said anything interesting. (–) Rather, although it does not make as much ‘sense,’ I would rather say the H1N1 is a discursive construction used to shape and create ‘proper’ (in the eyes of Power) ways of interaction with the world. () Making sense, sometimes, goes against my ethical standard.

() Simply put: you are confused. (–) I agree with you that my articles would never “pass as good philosophy in any reasonable academic department.” But I am not writing this to (a) pass a class, (b) for academia or (c) to be reasonable. () The purpose of ‘Frag-ments’ is to make people think, plain and simple. (–) I could convey my points more clearly, but that does not really fit into ‘my purpose.’ () The ‘rationalist’ argument against writing rationally goes like this: by expressing myself vaguely, incompletely, I feel that it forces people to add something to the text. They have to think about it. (–) Readers can try to figure out ‘where I am coming from’ or conclude that ‘x is true only under condition c.’ () I am not trying to ‘make sense’ and your first clue should have been the title of this column: ‘Frag-ments.’ () A fragment is a piece of thought, not a completed one; I am exploring ideas and concepts in writing the piece, and my hope is that others will engage in that exploration either with me or in a journey sparked by my writing. (–) You want point-by-point philosophical arguments, whereas I am writing in an aesthetic, exploratory manner, meaning: don’t try to ‘make (too much) sense’ of ‘Frag-ments.’ () You think I am writing about apples when really the piece was about orange unicorns. (#) “Id be happy to walk through [my points] with you if you want” but the ‘point’ totally misses this column’s intention.

P.S. I don’t profess to know all that much about Kant, but in referencing him I meant his notion that things in themselves are constructions of Reason that we have no direct access to.

P.S.S. I was totally down with your post (I truthfully enjoyed it because it made me think) until you tried to make me useful. Basically, then, I wrote this thing and will write the piece next week because (a) I can and (b) you pissed me off, not with your points but your patronizing rhetorical attempt to de-value ‘Frag-ments’ and me “I’m afraid I have a chip on my shoulder here, so I [do not] apologize if this is a bit harsh.”

Next week I will discuss the political value of absurdity and demonstrate the ridiculousness of ‘Distressed philosopher’s’ response.

Andy Pragacz ’10 can be reached at [email protected]