Thursday, August 30, 2007

It's Good to Care

A quick comment for everyone, because we are already getting into issues which people care intensely about. Disagreement is good; more than good, actually -- it's necessary, if we're going to take anything away from these contentious issues.

When arguing with one another, though, think of that nonsensical show, Crossfire (which is widely imitated), which basically consists of people yelling at each other. There's a radical difference between trying to convince each other to change positions and simply expressing our disagreement more loudly.

Which is not to say that there is a problem yet, and I apologize if this seems to be directed at anyone; my intention is to say that our goal from the beginning should be persuasion; when I grade papers and blog entries, one very important thing will be whether you are pitching yourself towards a skeptical audience, rather than assuming one that agrees with you.

On Crossfire, they preach to the choir (two different choirs, actually -- Marcuse, ironically, brutally dissects this aspect of the media as the "unification of opposites," but that's a discussion for another day), to those already convinced. Your goal needs to be otherwise.

How can we do this?

One important beginning is to focus on the texts at hand; to analyze Davis, and Joy, and Marcuse (although I've only given you a fragment of a rather strange and difficult book, in all fairness), while trying to avoid falling into overly familiar patterns of writing, of speech, of thought.

"Begin with a text, not with a feeling" - from Wit, by Margaret Edson

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