Ta ta

James Carrier (James.Carrier@DURHAM.AC.UK)
Fri, 8 Sep 1995 11:45:57 +0100


Dear Folks,

My sense of obligation toward the people who, for the past few years,
have constituted this list while I have been a subscriber, leads to me
want to take public leave, rather than just delete myself in an
impersonal message to a computer somewhere in Buffalo.
I am leaving for a number of reasons, some of which have more to
do with my changing circumstances than with the mass of messages that
constitutes the visible part of this list. However, there have been
attributes of that mass of messages that I find increasingly unpleasant.
If the messages continued to be as intriguing and amusing as they have
been at numerous times in the past, I would hang on a bit longer.
However, they are not.
I have thought from time to time of how I might explain to myself
the attributes that displease. The closest I can come is this: For this
list to survive in the sociable and stimulating form I experienced and
valued, its members need to be more considerate of others than has been
the case recently.
`Considerate' is a complex notion. In this case, I think it means
an absence of stridency about oneself and one's rights. While Mr Johnson
is the name that comes to mind most readily in this regard, I mean
something less obvious and more general. I mean a willingness to tolerate
what, viewed dispassionately, may look like an intrusion upon one's
rights; a willingness not to take offence.
In the casual (and not so casual) chat in which we all engage in
the flesh, we frequently are told (as we frequently tell others) things
that are irritating to a degree. If we want that chat to continue, we
ignore the irritation and continue talking. When enough people refuse to
ignore the irritation, the tone of conversation changes. Those who want
to speak find themselves having to check and re-check mentally the things
they want to say; those who do not see the point of the irritation become
unhappy and begin to look for the way out.
To put this in more purely personal terms, many people have said
things on this list that I find irritating. I do not, however, see much
point in taking them to task. Rarely has anyone said anything so
irritating that I became seriously concerned. I am more concerned to
continue the communication than to correct the occasional bad manners and
thoughtless statements of those around me. I have expected the same
consideration from others when I say irritating things. However, when too
high a proportion of the group (and it does not take many) feel free to
make such correction, the nature of the conversation changes and I want
to leave.
Finally, my thanks to Hugh Jarvis. He has the most difficult task
of all those who subscribe to this list. The fact that so few people
normally notice that he performs this task is a sign that he performs it


James G. Carrier

Durham Anthropology / 43, Old Elvet / Durham DH1 3HN