Re: community

Wed, 15 Mar 1995 14:14:21 CST

Following up on Mr. Kavanagh's posting...
Of course the "bullshit" response works very well when you're sitting
across the campfire from Butch. Being in physical proximity (i.e.
being required to stare one another in the eyes) you have certain
communication options open which includes rolling your eyes, spitting
into the fire, standing up and walking away, or smiling and
extending your hand to Butch who you hope was just kidding about
Eaters of the Dead being true. Being physical entities, our cultural
behavior develops in conjunction with just such physical "cues" and
communication without them, as we have all seen to a disheartening
degree, is frought with difficulties.

Returning for a second (I promise) then, to the case of our recently departed Mr.
Johnson, I must add my two cents which is this....
I have been amazed that in this debate over Mr. Johnson the emphasis has
been on his bad behavior and not on that of the people who responded to his
every posting. Not having a disgusted glare at their disposal, many people on
this list couldn't stand, apparently, to ignore him. That was their failing and not
his. Now I'm not saying that one shouldn't stand and say bullshit when the
situation calls for it, but when that happens in a disembodied environment the
implications are much different than when that happens among Mr. Kavanagh's
shooting buddies. What *I* observed in the list interactions was
pack behavior. There began an attack and then a feeding frenzy that
didn't stop until the "intruder" was gone. Doesn't this behavior
prove one of Mr. Johnson's accusations, which was that he saw
anthropologists as not caring as much about people as they do about
concepts or publishing? I found the lack of thoughtful debate a bit
frightening and to then banish the intruder (or was Johnson in truth
consumed?) <shiver here>... Well I for one think that debate suffers
when opposing viewpoints are shut down and not explored, modified, or
exposed, as appropriate.

Moving forward, I'm really pleased to see this discussion turn to
community. It's a critical issue and we obviously have a long way to go before
we figure out how to interact effectively and with respect for one
another's humanity when no face scowls, smiles, or walking away is
possible. I am especially concerned with this issue of embodiment.
It seems to me that the critical factor in community is one of
physicality, shared experience, shared perceptions, and
intersubjectivity. I hope that some others out there may be
interested in exchanging ideas on the place of embodiment and/or
intersubjectivity in forming social relations.


On March 15 Thomas Kavanaugh wrote:
Someone asked how did we visualize anthro-l ( withthe implication
of how we would deal with the now-to-be -nameless.

Well, in my former incarnation as a resident of northern Virginia, but not
now so often since I have relocated to Indiana, I particpated in a
particular form of male bonding known as musket shooting, properly the
North South Skirmish Association, wherein number of males, and recently
females, get together for a weekend of markspersonship using moderately
non-altered issue firearms of the Civil War period. Although
many ofthe pick up trucks sport bumper stickers that say something like
"an armed society is a polite society" {i have yet to debatethat piece
of pop sociological theory with my team members] I am not sure that the
fact that on a National match weekend (May and Octeober)_ on average
each adult attendee has at least one if not upwards of ten guns in his/her
immediate possession (not counting mortars and other artillery) it is
in general a polite society.

Now, my particular horde, the Lousiana Tigers, properly Wheat's
First Special Battalion, Lousiana Volunteers, Company B, has evolved a
particular ritual for dealing with irreconcilable campfire discussions.
For instance, when Butch Fogel periodically insists (standing there in
chain mail) that Michael Chricton's Eaters of the Dead is NON_FICTION,
my immediate response is, because I am the team PhD and so I can say
such things,
Bull SHit.
To which Butch responds,
Bull shit.
After several rounds of reciting this litany, we either devolve into
another ritual litany of
Iam over here, you're over there

No you're over there, I'm over here

andthus forget about the substance ofthe dispute while maintaining the
fact that we are a society of sorts. This same things happens
about discussion of gun control (I am --gasp--the team liberal) and
other really serious discussions. If they get out of hand, just say
Bull shit,
which should evoke the proper ritual reponse

Now unfortunately, this only works with members of the community. If
someone else is present who doesn't know the ritual, and has had too much homebr
ew (there are also five homebrewers onthe team)
then the social siotuation calls for the astute handling of the
team commander, who generally lacks "real " coercive power
(remember, inthis situation, everyone is armed!), but doies
have what RN Adams called 'skill authority'. Not only is he the
best shot, he has the best social skills as well. If the particular
irritant is from another team, he is quietly escorted to the road and
asked to go home, this is our fire.

If he is one of our own, we are then caught in the dilemma of how do we
keep the social bond? or do we? is it important? {why did that Poly
chief bring backthe con man?] In one case, the irritant was too much and we aske
d him to leave. In a more recent case, the opposite occurred and three
members of the team decided they had had enough and went to other teams;
un fortunately, at the same time, the irritant had also decided to move.
Thus the team lost four shooters, their wives and other family members
who contributedto the soicial situation.
here then is the liberal dilemma. Does one exerciose the delete key--
easy enough when one lives in Indiana and doesnot have to deal with the irritant
ew very weekend--does one invoke the team ritual and say bull shit to
unwarranted assertion,thereby invoking both the put up or shut up rul ( not mentioned above)
or the downplay the dispute by turning it into a meaningless game route.

When does one escort the irritantoff the te4am camp ground?

Does the emphasis on maintaining the social situation transform

[no scratch that, I was going to invoke Free speech, but I'm not at
all sure that is part ofthe situation. or maybe again it is. Where
/when do the desires to maintain a social soituation conflict with
the *content* of anothers speech?

bull shit

[of course it also dependds on whetherthe other wants to maintain a
social relation]