Friday, 14 February 2014

Friday Musings: My Arrogance, and a bit of Drama


The following conversation was a product of Doone's post Quest Log: Stereotypes in Games on Xp Chronicles. It is an interesting read, but, since disagreeing with the author I earned status of persona non grata, I decided to finish the debate here. Because frankly, I do not appreciate the Doone's tone. A fair warning, this post will contain some crude language, and I apologise in advance for it, those are not my words, they are Doone's. After you read all three comments, there will be my analysis of sorts.

I will say, had Doone given me the chance to post my response on his post, I would not be writing this here. I tried twice with my response, it was deleted both times. The second one even ended with a question mark. As it is, I cannot help it. I hate loose ends, I like to close things. Even when it comes to drama. My comment focused on the first part of his post, talking about the construct of the noble savage.


Astalnar:

The construct of the noble savage is much older than colonialism. It was a regular use among Romans and Greeks for example, where they referred to anyone wearing pants as barbarian. There was more to that, but pants were a stereotypical piece of clothing back then. As much as Romans thought of themselves masters of the world, Tacitus made a thing of pointing out the flaws of Rome comparing them to Germanic tribes. Another example would be Roman and Greek grudging respect for Gauls, even if they had them for backstabbing thieves. This is shown in the art, prime example being the statue of Dying Galatian. 
Aside from that, I would argue that Colonialists never tried to mask, or even try to justify their conquest of the new land. I will admit that my knowledge of history of that period focusing on America is lacking to say the least, but even if we just compare to the rest of Europe, it seems clear they did all they did because they thought it was right. To justify something you need to at least question the thing. Colonialists did nothing of such. Conquistadors a century, century and a half earlier slaughtered so many of Mayan, Inka and Aztec people simply because they were able. Not just that, they did not even consider the natives their equals. They did not consider them for a human. They saw the new continent as a land of opportunity where they could get so filthy rich, they would not need to worry about anything until the end of time. 
That does not abolish their "sins". But it is hipocritical of us, as their descendants (not direct, but hell, we are where we are, because they did what they did) to judge them for something they did not even understand. It is an ugly way of putting it, but you cannot accuse them of racism, when they did not even consider the natives for people. Sure, racists today might claim the same, but it is different mentality. If not for anything else, today they are acutely aware of other people being people, and not a simple stock ready for slaughter. 
In short, it can be dangerous applying our way of thinking and the modern-day constructs when examining the history. 
As for the sterotype itself, when it is used in games, it is used for easier reference, for the lack of better term. To be easily recognized. Games are not social justice champions, and do not bother examining how a group of people is struggling today. Frankly, this is not their territory, and they do not deal with it. As I said before, some games are art, others a simple entertainment. But at the end, art is simply a mirror of society. Games as such, as well. Thus it is not on game developers to think what could be done about society, but on society itself to do something about it.

Doone:

I almost didn’t approve your comment for this reason: 
” I will admit that my knowledge of history of that period focusing on America is lacking to say the least …” 
…in addition to all the bullshit you just ungraciously smeared on my blog. I don’t appreciate it. I’m always willing and I always do in practice, talk back and forth with lengthy responses for as long as a dedicated commenter would like as long as they’re gracious and respect not only my other guests, but my intelligence. You’ve insulted me by posting this. 
Conversation Etiquette (linked in the header): ask when you don’t know and cite your sources. Respect the rules and you’ll be respected in return. You didn’t do that. So I’m going to be forthright with you about how I feel about that. 
Your ignorance bothers me and since you decided to post that shit here, I’m going to tell you why it bothers me. I’m also going to keep this strictly about you, since you kept yourself firmly at the center of your reply. 
Opinions are worth the toilet paper we wipe our asses with. You are full them; it’s all you ever have. You admit you know nothing and you have a go anyway, no citations, no idea whether what you say is true, but here’s why you did it: you only care about what you think and you happen to believe in white innocence. That white people of the past were innately good and would never have done these horrible things if they only knew. I can smell the naivety in this defense, can almost taste it. This was the summary of your entire response. 
I’ve told you this twice before about your worthless opinions and you haven’t learned anything, but here it is a third time: you don’t get to have an opinion about what colonialists did or did not know, since you don’t know what they did or did not know by your own admission. The next time you comment here and it doesn’t end with a question mark, I will delete it automatically. Because you don’t know how to have a discussion without inserting your gloriously ignorant opinions and this time I don’t have the patience nor the graciousness to entertain you. You don’t deserve it. 
I’m sure you aced whatever multiple choice tests you’ve taken in your life with intelligent guesses, but that’s not knowledge. You hide behind your opinions and avoid actually learning stuff, avoid listening to people and avoid anything which doesn’t serve your vanity. You even convinced yourself to write a comment here on something you knew you had no knowledge of. I know you’re used to passing for smart, but I think even less of your ability to learn and know something than I ever did before. Don’t shit on my site. When you don’t know, ask or don’t comment. Use citations when doling out “facts”, of which you had none. Zero. 
What really bothers me though is you have no interest in this topic or discussion, and you showed it by commenting when you didn’t have a clue about the subject matter. You clearly didn’t bother with the comment policy. Then you type this bullshit out, knowing you’re spit-balling every factoid you printed, and you posted it anyway. I don’t even know what kind of person mounts the frivolous defense you did for something undeserving of that defense. I mean what was your point? That those poor slave owners were well-meaning? That they honestly thought they were dealing with monkeys even as they raped them and married them? That they couldn’t understand the English that slaves learned when they wrote letters renouncing the horrors of slavery? That abolitionists of their own race weren’t shouting “THOSE ARE PEOPLE” loud enough? That the kingdoms European conquerors witnessed were the work of upright monkeys? Clearly no one could tell whether they were human! Those poor white bastards must have been mistaken! They would never have raped, killed, chained, brutalized, starved, shot, lynched, and enslaved PEOPLE. Right? Was this the point you were making? Congratulations. I hope you feel good about the books you didn’t read about this which allowed you to come here and smear shit on my blog. 
Don’t do it again.

Astalnar:

I am sorry you feel that way. And I am sorry you seem to be ignoring your own conversation etiquette.
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dying_Galatian
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tacitus
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conquistadors
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noble_savage
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leviathan_(book)
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rationalism
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignorantia_juris_non_excusat
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/De_Agri_Cultura 
As for your last paragraph, just as I said many times, but you always choose to ignore this, they did not care. People did not even think about asking such questions. Because those questions did not bother them. I know it is hard for you to grasp this, but world was always a terrible place, I never thought of them as poor slave-owners, and neither did I think of their slaves as wretched souls in need of help. "Homo homini lupus." (one of the links above) 
I do not take sides in history, I stay objective. History is such as it is, and no amount of revile will change it in any way. 
"History can also refer to the academic discipline which uses a narrative to examine and analyse a sequence of past events, and OBJECTIVELY determine the patterns of cause and effect that determine them. Historians sometimes debate the nature of history and its usefulness by discussing the study of the discipline as an end in itself and as a way of providing "perspective" on the problems of the present"
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History 
To you, a slavemaster shouting at a slave seems horrible, to ancient Romans, it was a comedy. As it was seeing a slave plotting the demise of his master. To Romans, that was entertaining, as they thought of it impossible to happen.
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miles_Gloriosus_(play) 
As your tone speaks for itself, I do not see any desire to continue this conversation. Maybe a bit of introspection on your part is in order?

This second reply never made it through. Which saddens me, as I now think that Conversation Etiquette is there just for show. A mere farce. Utopia in which Doone can flaunt his ego. But as seen, as soon as he disagrees with someone's opinion, well there is no future opinion to disagree with, at least not on his page.

Maybe I presumed too much, but actually reading the conversation etiquette when I first visited his new site I was a bit optimistic. Maybe I just presumed too much in my arrogance, that all those debates we had previously taught him something. That opinions will always clash, and not all will ever agree with you. What is the purpose of such thing as conversation etiquette, if you do not hold to it yourself? This is a question that deserves some thinking.

As for Doone's accurate depiction of some of my traits, it seems my own arrogance is humbled compared to his. To me, it is a common sense that if you establish the rules, you are bound by those rules as much as everyone else. It seems that Doone disagrees here with me. Well, it would not be the first, nor the last time I would think. As it is obvious from his response, the rules he established are to be followed by everyone else, but him.

As I am feeling humbled right now, I would recommend adding the 8th point to the conversation etiquette. One that says: "All that applies to everyone but me, Doone."
It would make things much clearer, and thus everyone will know to either agree with him, or not waste their time by posting at all.

I had a discussion with Doone in at least two of my posts on this blog. Both times, he resorted to ad hominem, and I chose to ignore it, thinking that the man knows better. That he is just passionate, and his mistakes in argumentation, born out of being engaged in a topic of interest.

Thus I ignored all those mocking, and personal attacks, thinking, he knows better. I would recommend reading once more, my post on how to engage in conversation, how to fight arguments, titled Rules of Engagement. But then again, much of what is written in my Rules of Engagement is also captured in Doone's Conversation Etiquette, and if he does not even follow his own rules, why would he then listen to my suggestions?

As for his last congratulations, I admit there are many books I have not read. There are many I did. And there are most that I will never get a chance to read, as I will run out of time and die. One of my greatest fears, is that I will miss reading the best book I could ever read just because I do not have all the time in this world. And I am not pulling your leg here. For me, this is a fear that as time will pass will only get worse, for I can never really know if I already read the best book there is. What if such book was already written, and then destroyed? What if it is written when I am already dead?

As for Doone, I hope he at least follows the Golden rule and decides to stay clear of here. I am very amicable, thus I will not do what he did. I am also too arrogant to stoop so low. Thus, Doone is welcome to comment on this blog, and post his opinions, no matter how narrow-minded, wrong, or misguided they might be. Same rules apply to him as to everyone else. I will tolerate his presence. Until it is not just spam, hate, or shady links, his comments, if he chooses to make any, should survive. But he cannot expect of me to respond anymore. He lost that privilege.

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