Monday, June 29, 2015

No Time to Read, Must Comment

Continuing to follow that “battle of Hastings” I discussed here late last week. Find myself still checking that 2+2 thread about it fairly frequently while also reading some of the commentaries such as the thoughtful one contributed by the Australian player James “Andy McLEOD” Obst yesterday over on the Calvin Ayre site (presented as an interview, though in fact an essay by Obst).

No major advances occurred over the weekend, really. In fact, the most noteworthy recent developments concern how certain high profile pros have been reacting and responding to the story.

Speaking of the 2+2 thread, I noticed today someone chiming in some 1,500 posts into it with one of those amusingly oblivious posts that often come up deep in an active discussion, saying essentially (I’m paraphrasing) “I heard something about this but haven’t read -- what’s this all about?” The question earned the derision it deserved, as well as a pointer to the “Cliffs” of the discussion that appear as the thread’s initial post.

Such a contribution is a bit like the daydreaming student who suddenly becomes aware of the possibility that something either in the discussion or the teacher’s incessant yammering might in fact be important for him to know. He thrusts up his hand and shamelessly asks for a recap, insensible to the fact that he’s distinguishing himself as an obstacle to actual dialogue.

Saw someone tweeting something similar today about not having followed the story, though nonetheless being eager to share a position regarding it, namely, that whatever it was about, it likely confirmed other theories this person has advanced in the past about online poker.

Sort of thing happens a lot online, of course. Read the comments to any post or article, and you’ll frequently find many only responding to the headline, leading photo, or whatever text or picture might have successfully baited the person to click over to the page.

That’s a different kind of non-contribution, perhaps even more frustrating for those who are actually engaged with the story and trying to find something constructive to take away from what is happening. Kind of a like a movie review by a person who is only acquainted with the title, perhaps has seen a trailer or has a general idea of the plot, and has picked up on the fact that others are talking about it and so feels compelled to talk about it, too.

Some time ago I got on a kick of listening to a lot of film-related podcasts, including a couple focusing on low-budget, “exploitation” and cult fare for which discussions about the making of the films can be as interesting (or more so) than discussions of the films themselves.

One such podcast was devoted to the whole “video nasties” phenomenon that arose in the U.K. during the mid-1980s, going through and reviewing all of the films that were put on the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) list -- 72 in all. (Here’s a link to the show’s website, if you’re curious.) Each episode opens with an audio clip of Mary Whitehouse, the activist who led the charge against the video nasties, in which an interviewer is asking her if she herself had in fact seen any of the films she was petitioning to have banned.

“I have never seen a video nasty,” she responds. “I actually don't need to see visually what I know is in that film.”

What a line, eh? Seems to imply she was able to “see” the movies in some manner other than “visually.” (Whitehouse, incidentally, is one of the three targets in Pink Floyd’s brilliant track “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” from the 1977 LP Animals.)

It’s a quote those who have studied the whole “video nasties” story enjoy bringing up when criticizing the movement to stop the sale of what in truth was a pretty arbitrary compilation of videos, representing as it does a kind of bald-faced, strangely unembarrassed hypocrisy.

That’s the example I think of when someone butts into a conversation the person hasn’t been following, only to deliver judgments and conclusions about what the person thinks might be at issue.

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