smart people as outliers in cultural analysis modeling

Fri, 11 Feb 1994 00:04:02 EST

howbeit was a trifle irked each time he adduced the claim, "I might be Dan
Foss," aside from the public nonexistence of any "Dan Foss," other than as
a diminutive of "Daniel C. Foss," acknowledged as "the real one" in all OECD
nations. Mysterious Lawyers From Outer Space descend when catching me referring
or getting reffered to as all but Daniel A. Foss; *serve* me with something
just expensive enough to hurt; and disappear before Daniel A. Foss can document
their existence to the indisputably Real Dr A.(1) That Seeker1 was not Daniel
A. Foss would be established in the fullness of time. Much less, that Seeker1/
Steve Mizrach was is will ever be Jewish; for what, really, were/are/are they?/
will be "the Jews"; for lo it is it not written in the collected laserprintout
of Daniel A. Foss that Peoples are not discrete billiard-ball-like entities in

This is how I saw it in a daily installment of my very first, uh, unwork
(where "work" was what was paid for by WEINTRAU's research grant) of e-fiction
[The year is 532 - a year before the invention of AD by the monk Exiguus - in
the reign of Justinian The Great.]:
Date: Mon, 07 Sep 87 17:40:14 EDT
From: "<<<?>>>" <WEINTRAU@SBCCVM>
Subject: missing the bus
The good thing about slavery was the job security. The bad thing was what
might happen to one's private parts to qualify for a secure job in the Sacred
Palace. The OTHER (Specify) recalled that the Corpus Iuris Civilis, or the
Codex Iustinianus as it was popularly known, prohibited castration of Jewish
slaves for eunuchistic purposes, as Mosaic law decreed....
The hairy part would be convincing six learned sixth century rabbis that he
indeed was Jewish. By sixth century standards, it's funny but he didn't look
[The principal achievement of this bit of timewasting was an in-passing
tale of senseless massacre of contemporary Maya by the contemporary Mexican
Army. Because I knew just enough to assume this is what the Mexican Army could
be expected to do, commonsensically. Didn't all of you? (Foss to Adler, Wed, 30
Sep 87 14:16:57 EDT)]
In a post of Tue, 18 Jan 1994 23:18:07 EST, "a triviality perhaps of
decisive significance," I complained, in effect, but so as to obscure the fact
to all but myself, that: "I play tricks. Why or wherein do people not consider
the possibility that I am being disingenuous, or rather, *sneaky*, at times for
Educational purposes; at times for the sheer hell of it; and therewith help me
out immensely! Some people write crossword puzzles; no mistaking that. There's
no use just the trickster playing the trick without consideration that the
trickery is persent. (The inference heuristics precluding the desired awareness
were of course already known to me and demonstrated to my satisfaction as

"In the meantime," I said, we learned that Seeker1 was, in fact, Jewish.
Because he *looked* Jewish; don't ask me." In the spirit of the fiction cited
above. What I was mulling over at that point was the comparable importance, if
comparable it was, of Seeker1's Jewishness and Yee's query, accepted as valid,
as to Bob Graber's reading of fiction.

The aforementioned post was about Experience and Experience of Experience.
The design of a trick was taking shape whereby an Experience would be induced
in certain persons of predictable character from partly (or completely)
spurious origins. Or at least, there would be the Experience that the Experi-
ence was Experienced as an Experience by the Experiencer. Whatever that meant;
which, precisely, was the explanandum.

The opportunity would come in due time; the immediate task was turning up
the theory-generating machinery to pour icky glop in the mob's path toward the
What Is Culture precipice; but where there's lemmings, there's a way. On
reconsideration, this looked like a waste of scarce energy, que sera and all

The obscure and chaotic composition of "what's a nice jewish boy doing at
the u fla gainesville," mostly in a mood of giggly mirth, yet with two
intervals of clenched teeth hate, was more incomprehensibly incoherent than
I'd expected to produce; sent out Fri, 21 Jan 1994 05:19:07. Subsequently,
I made a list of at least six major topic-oids in an offline attempt to
prove chaotic incoherence; and there were pointers to preceding posts stuck
in to seem hostile; yet this dissolved should the reader recall the referents.
Example: "Are you on [Leri] as a *social scientist*, or as a *real kid*?...
Which should recall the final four words of the preceding post, "*other social
scientists also posing as devotees*." ["to whom you suppose is this discussion
raw data," Fri, 21 Jan 1994 00:25:23 EST; also, "he's real i'm the social
scientist," Tue, 11 Jan 1994 15:15:55 EST] What was, if anything, Serious, in
the content - meaning, in the intent and affect, not the substantive content,
which from my current perspective was as ludicrous as the rest, being objective
hence, would you say, lizzy, sexist, was my quixotic infantile-chivalrous
effort to efface Elizabeth N. Hubbard/Doctress Neutopia's self-discrediting;
which is not my doing, only my own self-discrediting is; and will not be
affected by my efforts. (But suppose, just suppose me as a Real Man in a
Real Relationship; an impossibility, to be sure, but suppose, anyway. What's
to do, don't protect a woman at all? Never protect any woman? Sometime, over
the rainbow, women will give the orders on these thorny issues; they will be
engraved on the Temples of the Goddess. Meanwhile....)

The Jewish Question was intended throughout as a *distractor*, yet the
current ambience of tribalistic tensions in New York City, in Oakland and
Los Angeles, and even, as I read the newspapers, in Gainesville FL itself,
was certain to be a potent one. The vague notion at the time was, after
a brief interval, step in and say, "Folks, I want to show you how this post
was worded. For one instance of fakery, look at...."

How about, "[Before the Jews got hold of this place [*sic*],] this USA was
a savage sinkhole of tribal wars and exclusive obsession with money [gee, you
mean it stopped?]. [Thanks to the Jews,][[padding]: it's now a world-class
civilization,] manufacturing millions of people a year who can act intelligent
[about two lines of padding deleted]; obsessed not with money but with
Socioeconomic Status,..." Anoyone not know what Socioconomic Status is? Good.
Of all of you, is there anyone prepared to deny the centrality of money within
its social construction? Certainly not. Everyone remember taking English back
in school, a certain minority of the readership excluded? Look, you have on one
side an image of herd conformity and one of greed. On the other side, an image
of herd conformity, androids manufactured by the millions to *act* - doesn't
say *are* - smart, another of greed.
This might have been more obvious had I said, "Thanks to the Jews, the sun
will come up in the morning." But why bother. If it says anything, it's as an
antinationalist subtext; not all that "sub" either.

Some of the discussion ensuing among some of the Jewish listmembership was
explicable, sociologically, as danger evaluation: Sheep hold a staff meeting,
just one possible analogy, to ascertain probability of wolf-presence. This
was overdetermined by pre-existing bad relations between the odd Jewish
listmember and another odd Jewish listmember, antedating the Jan 21 post and
not relevant to anything of remotely Jewish content; the "free-floating aggess-
ion," hardly an explanation of anything of course, and not much of a
description, either, which I once characterized as underlying flame-ery as a
whole and in general.

What had been predictable, if trivial, would be that some people would
assume the posture and stance of, "We're all natives, now!" without ever
recognizing that this was what they were doing. Not even some of my defenders
escaped. The good Mike Lieber, for whose assistance I am deeply grateful, was
alas, himself caught:

"I have the distinct impression, as a member of the tribe well versed in
emic forms of play, that D. Foss was yanking your chains a bit....Lighten up,
guys. If you get an invitation to play, then take it or pass on it, but don't
get offended at the invitation." ["goy, a clarification," Fri, 21 Jan 1994
12:33::30 CST]

Which fails simply because it approaches the, uh, *cultural gurgle* as a
personal-interactional and semantic-interpretative problem. That is, as lying
within the purview of social psychology and weakly-motivated choice when
individuals are presented with polysemic stimuli; psychology, in other words.
The real question in my opinion lies, however, within the competence of
sociology: *What and wherein are the rules governing who may or may not assume,
provisionally or longer term, the trickster role in a given social group, let
us say, a subculture, and specifically, that of ANTHRO-L. (Why is it that
people who deal so much in what-is-culture pretend something else is there,
or nothing is there, anything but culture is governing their denial of cultural
influence and constraints on behavior? Weird.)

It is plain to this writer, for very elaborate reasons which he will tell
absolutely nobody, due to a sense of proportion between intricacy of
explanation and the, let's face it, *practically nothing* there exists to be
explained, that Daniel A. Foss is *ineligible* for social construction as The
Trickster; nor are any of the latter's trickster-like activities susceptible
to social construction post facto as mere funny business. (Consider, as the
most trivial instance of this rule application, the post sent by Rafael
Candido Alvarado, "MISANTHRO-L," Sat, 22 Jan 1994 15:23::34 -0500. Alvarado
himself states, as close to overtly as one can get, that he deleted the post
he criticizes before reading it, having perused only the subject line; then
writes, inter alia, "Prior to that conflict, after having detected a dangerous
....[sentence broken off]" and "As for the subject heading of this post, it
sums up what I think of Foss, and not really in jest.") Apoplexy is the system
default; the laugh track is sparse.
Trust me. Conclusive proof would take a thousand lines. Why, would take
two thousand lines. Generalization, now, this is the interesting issue, but
takes working out by more than just me.

Stephanie J. Nelson alone escapes the sociological framework, with her post,
"Angry Jewish men," Fri, 21 Jan 1994 09:02:02:55 PST. This post is unique for
eschewing the reactive posture; and in taking the initiative in framing my
"offense," as reframed, to suit a wider, invisible, constituency, albeit one
soon to manifest its presence. This constituency is, firstly, least imbued with
the extremely localized and recondite subculture of ANTHRO-L. Secondly, it's
intent or "program," insofar as we may apply these words, is the extension and
intensification of the professional-anthropologist subculture into or within
ANTHRO-L; that is, attenuating the latter's self-generating peculiarities. In
short, her implication is that Daniel A. Foss is a crasher, an impostor, and
one with no legitimate right to speak. (She is of course quite correct; and for
this reason alone I do here speak up.) She writes:

>This routine is becoming tiresom:

>Dan Foss invents an insult out of (perhaps) sloppy scholarship and elevates it
>into either a racial slur or a professional one, then commits character
>assassination and issues an ultimatum for either a groveling apologia or exit
>from the list.

>Mellow out, Dan. As Milton wrote, the mind is its own place, and can make of
>itself either heaven or hell. Does this not fit your theory of culture? You
>theorized it, so dwell in its consequences. And this is not your list, so
>cut the dominance displays..

>And cut the racist Jew thing too. All kinds of races and religions have made
>this country what it is, for better or for worse. The last thing we need on
>this list is racist chest-beating. For shame, Stephanie Nelson

For whatever motivated its posting, the post in question is a masterpiece of
list micropolitical and propaganda rhetoric. Its thrust is the reinforcement of
academic hierarchicization, and by extension, the prolongation of the impact of
academic hierarchization within the suppositiously magical, tooth-fairy-free,
fun-and-freedom-for-all precincts of what is popularly known as Cyberspace. For
this, above all, is what I have been "theorizing" about on this list. Along
with uncompromising egalitarianism.

The text says to me, even *personally*, "You don't have the stripes? Well,
get out, or at minimum shut the [obscenity] up." And, barring a now-unforseen
social upheaval of stupendous proportions, Stephanie J. Nelson is the wave of
the future, our local Gore. "On the Internet, every-goddam-one knows you're a
dog." Slovenliness, which allows a few leaks here and there, will in due course
get mopped up. If They declare a liberation within the confines of capitalism,
it is the rule that, *The fortunate few escape, the unfortunate many are

Daniel A. Foss
(1) Daniel C. Foss was the one who got Tenure; also is a moderately famous if
boring writer. Also like me born in 1940 to a father named Irving. PhD same
year, 1969. Never met him in my life; though it was not easy to avoid Montclair
State College while living in Newark.
(2) Discussion on Race, this list, Sept 1992.