Marina McInnes' e-mail

Gil Hardwick (
Sun, 22 Jan 1995 02:28:44 GMT

Marina wrote to me:

>I seem to have missed something. Last I checked, I don't have a lawyer,
>nor was I interfering in your domestic affairs, either national or

No, you have been mailing me at my own home in my own country with a
lecture on how I ought to behave.

>However, even if it is lecturing and moralising (which it isn't, or at
>least that wasn't my intention), I didn't go to your country to do it. You
>and I met in cyberspace. That's neither here nor there; it's more a
>no-man's-land where hopefully people do strive to be as polite as
>possible. Idealistic, I know, but quite possible, even if a custom less
>honored than it should be.

You did not have to come here in person physically to my country. You
nevertheless did send private mail to me to the same effect, by what
medium you had access to at the moment. As fellow countrymen of yours
have sent legal briefs and threats against me by any and various
means including e-mail, normal snail mail, police, and professional
process servers into the bargain.

If you are going to be sending mail to individuals specifically, how
about you turn about and lecture your own fellow Americans on this
Internet thingy being a "no-man's-land" where we all have to be as
polite as possible to one another, if such is your wont, instead of
writing to me here on the other side of the planet.

They are the ones who have been taking action against me, who don't
seem to have any sort of grip on human communications at all.

On my part I don't even have a KILL file here, or any such paranoia
at all. Neither have I at any time attempted to take anyone to court,
or acted in any way whatsoever to have them denied access to this
here facility, or any part of it. I merely sit here at this keyboard
taking it all into account as inherent in the human condition, and
proceed from there.

My own professional opinion, as I have discussed in some detail on
sci.anthropology over the period, is rather that the Usenet News (cf.
private e-mail with its implied intent) is a liminal domain. Betwixt
and between, yes? Nowhere and everywhere, and as Stanner once wrote
on the Aboriginal Dreaming, Everywhen. It simply is.

My approach to it, by corollary, is that the newsgroups are not a
frightfully empty space filled with a risk of dread peril; it is a
happy, serendipitous, eccentric sort of a place where anything might
happen. It is ONLY you Americans with your high-handed morality and
airy-fairy idealism who refuse to allow this here Cybervoid to flower
and bear its won fruit.

Maybe you have been reading far too much Tolkein, you people, or
maybe engaged in far too much Bible bashing. Christianity and its
many denominations and traditions is notorious for being unable to
cope with the idea of Void. Its intellectual traditions work like a
fury, in fact, to fill it up with whatever will serve for the moment
to make a noise and scare the devils away.

Other cultures beat drums, or let off fireworks to the same end,
while you people engage in flame wars and legalised word games to
see how much you can get your "enemies" to squirm. In understand the
Inuit used to have games similar to that as well, while they were all
stuck inside their igloos during the winter darkness. (Isn't that an
interesting idea . . . )

And in other cultures too, the mastering of nothingness is of the very
highest intellectual attainment to which a human is capable. Attaining
such bliss is akin to Godliness, expressed as something like Buddha

>This is a bit of the pot calling the kettle black, isn't it? From my point
>of view, we were having a friendly conversation, and then suddenly, out of
>left field (that means, "with no warning"), wham! You started "shouting"
>at me, lumping me in with some other "they" whom I know nothing of, and
>basically doing the very things you are accusing me of. I'll tell you
>what: I'll let you know when I'm lecturing you. I can even feel one
>coming on now....

No, you kept going on oblivious to the fact that our "conversation"
was far from friendly, having been subject to no introductions or
protocols whatever, despite my being patient with you and trying to
make you feel welcome. Recall that it is you who had initiated the
exchange right out of the blue, a complete stranger to me. I grant
that it was from your own point of view, of course, but as I argued
with Patrick Powers a very long time ago such relativism is your own
particular invention.

Problem is you appear quite unable to consider An Other view. Of An
Other world entirely. You an anthropologist, or so you mention.

How do I get through to you, to consider a quite different way of
thinking from that to which you may be accustomed, if I don't emphasis
the point I am making by some method? We would normally have sent you
out to complete your mandatory two years fieldwork, as the Rite de
Passage into the profession. One of the old Zen patriarchs would no
doubt have whacked you on the head with a bamboo strap. All I did was
(only very briefly and mildly) "yell" at you after *three* separate
mail items from your end.

Marina, I ain't an American. Neither is the rest of the world out
here. It is no mere nationalistic perversity on our part which finally
takes recourse to demonstrating in the public streets for "Americans
Go Home". You just can't listen, you mob.

>There's nothing "reasonable" in your response to me. A reasonable man
>would have given me the benefit of the doubt and would have bothered to
>find out whether I knew what you were talking about and where I stood on
>the issue rather than making unfounded assumptions about my opinions and
>intentions and then torching me for those supposed opinions and

See, here you go all over again.

You simply do not appear able to accept the idea that someone might
just not be a "reasonable man" by your particular ideal vision, yet
thrive and prosper as a happy, viable and legitimate human being
regardless. Without you finding cause to act against them, to offer
uninvited advice, or to impose your own prescriptions for living.

Which brings cause for me to wonder, do they play the same liminal
tape recording over and over to you all right throughout your school
years, or something like that?

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