Saturday, January 20, 2007

Brothers Karamazov on Offended Language and Online Communication

On Offended Language: (yes, offended, not offensive; though what is offensive is so because it is offended)

"Stupidity is brief and artless, while intelligence wriggles and hides itself. Intelligence is a knave, but stupidity is honest and straightforward" (Ivan; a troubled soul, an unreliable commentator; book 5 chapter 3).

(Perhaps I ought not to have said this; honest and straightforward are the words "Judge not, that ye be not judged." Perhaps I wish to critique any abrasive words that come from a position of suspect moral certainty--including those heard on talk radio and from my own mouth.)

On Online Communication:

"For any one to love a man, he must be hidden, for as soon as he shows his face, love is gone" (Ivan, book 5 chapter 4).

"Father Zossima has talked of that more than once . . . He, too, said that the face of a man often hinders many people not practised [sic] in love, from loving him. But yet there's a great deal of love in mankind, and almost Christ-like love" (Alyosha, book 5 chapter 4). (Note: that Alyosha, and even more strongly, Zosssima corroborates Ivan, gives high credibility to the notion; Emerson's maxim resonates: "thy love afar is spite at home.")

(These statements help me understand why sometimes it seems so much
easier to be pleasant and compassionate online than in a face-to-face. Partially it's an issue of timing and control of communication/interaction. Better start studying Levinas again.)


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