Sunday, January 14, 2007

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day: Thinking Positive (or not thinking negatively)

(I was thinking about changes, especially positive/progressive ones as I reflected on MLK, Jr.'s life..., and remembered this...)

Recently I read something from the Dahlai Lama about attempting to, just for seven days, resist thinking any negative thoughts about any other person. He stated that in a competitive, consumer society we are conditioned to focus on the negative and that this is destructive to our psyches and communal well-being.

At first I said well that is fucking ridiculous there are too many idiots and assholes for me to resist thinking negative thoughts... but then I reflected on what my statement said about myself.

So I decided I would try it. The first day was a disaster... no luck, OK, I would do it an hour at a time-very difficult (I work on a busy campus and I do run into a lot of people...). Manageable, but strangely I noticed how easily my mind could laspe into negative feelings/thoughts and that even as I worked to develop a positive outlook about current events/relationships, past events would begin to seep into my consicousness and would assail my defenses... what about when this happened, or when I failed to do this, or when this person let me down, or the countless people I have hurt in my lifetime...

Despite the periods of pain this exercise has caused me, I have been noticing more moments of pure happiness and delight in life--I am also more conscious of how my negative thoughts are a conditioned reflex (often unconscious) and that I can choose to be happier.

I'm an old school existentialist who is suspicious of bliss, but I am learning to enjoy myself more... hopefully I can spread some of that joy.

Thanks for the original inspiration Okir.

64 comments:

bh said...

See, that's why books such as this one hit the best seller's list [Amazon sales rank of 48 right now], while darkish theory books languish in sales.

Thivai Abhor said...

Nope Bh, this is definitely not what I'm talking about... definitely not simply saying "yes" to everything as it is or following some business guru's schematic plan for riches.

Thinking positive involves saying "no" to things that are negative and devising action/theories to analyze/mobilize againts injustice/exploitation. I couldn't really think of a more positive action/outlook than that. What I was avoiding was the completely reflexive/reactionary negative outlook that demobilizes/paralyzes one from imagining something better (or leads to passivity).

Thivai Abhor said...

In addition I was resisting the dog eat dog capitalist outlook that incites us to step over (on) the other person to move up the ladder... that teaches us that some people are unworthy... that some cultures are less than ours... that produces stereotypes of people/cultures...

bh said...

Open up the book and you may think differently. Yes, unfortunately, the author is a corporate guru and has written other books on salesmanship, and I have all sorts of issues with that; however, the author advances concepts that are applicable to mobilizing on behalf of cultural transformation -- that are exportable, so to speak -- and ways of staying positive when corporate and institutional cultures try to tear a person down and annhiliate their self-worth -- which results in the very kind of paralysis that you mention. Some of his principles are in alignment with advocating institutional and corporate reform at the micro-level of personal, human relationships.

Speaking of Martin Luther King day, in his other "black book" on networking, the author talks about the significance of not prejudging people on the basis of appearance, as well as the importance of supportive networking -- he's definitely not advocating a capitalist "dog-eat-dog" weltanschung.

And my larger point was that the book wouldn't be selling so well if it were not what people stuck in vampiric corporate cultures craved to hear/read -- because they innately desire change and escape from the negative ethos fostered in corporate and institutional environments.

brainwise said...

Thivai: This entry is very timely for MLK's day. I applaud your effort in trying to not only embrace the concept of positive thinking, but to actually practice it. I have had my own difficulties in employing more PI in my own life, probably because I often mistakenly pass off a negative thought as judgemental, and then go down another path of negatively thinking about my automatic thoughts ... and it's a slippery slope down that hill, eh?

Thivai Abhor said...

BH,

This site is trolled by self-promoting pople so perhaps my negative leap was a result of my not knowing who you are (even if it is a pseudonymous identity) or what your stake is in this... but thanks for clarifying your point.

Brainwise,

It, indeed, can definitely be a slippery slope... I'm sorry I haven't got back to your december email I've been somewhat buried in work and personal concerns. I hope the new year is starting off good for you.

How do we operate in such a negative society (now my view on this is not completely bleak, I see so many striving to do better and sense a change, it is more top down negativity, being battled by bottom-up imaginitive possibilities) and imagine the possibility for positive change. I guess that is the challenge I have been reflecting on today. I have had a lot of time to think about this the last couple of days as I have been huddled in blankets on my couch, battling a bad cold.

Thanks, both of you, for your comments

Thivai Abhor said...

BH,

To be honest, I won't buy the book (as my bibliophilia has been out of control lately and funds are limited) you speak of, but I am a review editor for Reconstruction a cultural studies journal--if you send it to me I will try to get it reviewed and then you can get the response you desire.

bh said...

I was totally *not* promoting anything -- moreso, it was a spontaneous observation a la reader response theory.

I didn't purchase books myself, either; rather, I perused them in a bookstore. They are on the front display sections of any B & N or Borders right now. I think that it's important to pay attention to the reading habits of the business folk -- what kind of discourses speak to them and their deep-seated needs/desires.

And my stake in this, if I may be so blunt, is my belief that academic culture could occasionally use a small dosage of motivational, self-help literature -- because the dog-eat-dog capitalist mindset is as pervasive in academia as it is in the corporate world -- academic capitalism -- and that is, arguably, what breeds the negativity in the first place.

Thivai Abhor said...

BH,

This book is a motivational guide to thinking positive as a method to increasing one's sales potential... not really what I am talking about here and it doesn't really seem to be what I would be looking for... and doesn't seem to be what Martin Luther King, Jr. stood for... for instance look at this handy breakdown of his tactics for sales motivation:

"You'll learn 7.5 specific things you can do to maintain your intensity, drive, and commitment... discover 20.5 "attitude gems" that capture the value of thousands of dollars of books and courses... learn how to overcome the 10.5 most dangerous "attitude busters"... then learn how to maintain your YES! Attitude every day, for the rest of your life!"

Oh boy, I'm excited ;) ... of course I haven't read it and shouldn't simply dismiss things sight unseen, but then you are telling me that you just browsed it in a bookstore... which once again leaves me wondering who you are and what your stake is in promoting it here?

Absolutely the academic world is permeated by the dog-eat-dog world of capitalist (business) world theology (and it is a religion in a sense--complete faith in self-regulating markets and economic sense). So we are quite familiar with the business-world mindset, even if we reject it (much like an aestheist is familiar with Christianity, because there is no escaping it in this society).

I was a managing editor of an organizational management journal for two years and could give you a long list of business theorists that I find progressive/positive (as opposed to simply seeking to increase our sales potential). Of course they have a theoretical edge and do not engage in cheerleading motivational tactics.

Thivai Abhor said...

Last, but not least, in regard to your comment:

"And my stake in this, if I may be so blunt, is my belief that academic culture could occasionally use a small dosage of motivational, self-help literature -- because the dog-eat-dog capitalist mindset is as pervasive in academia as it is in the corporate world -- academic capitalism -- and that is, arguably, what breeds the negativity in the first place."

I was talking about the lesson of the Dahlai Lama one of the world's great spiritual leaders... how is that "academic"?

I find your tone dismissive and annoying, expescially since you refuse to provide me any gorunding for understaning who you are or what your "real" position is in all of this.

bh said...

How many times do I have to say that it was merely a spontaneous, non-promoting observation?

And that poorly-written Amazon blurb and all of the Amazon comments are misleading and misrepresentative of the overall contents of the book. The Amazon blurb is a sales pitch onto itself; however, again, I am not pitching the book here. I am just saying that you are judging the book a bit prematurely based upon the poor synopsis found on Amazon. The two books are far more about human relations than they are about sales, sales, sales or obtaining riches.

And I didn't just "browse" it in a bookstore -- I sat down and read the two books in their entirety in the bookstore, and I thought that they do contain progressive insights that are exportable to cultural studies when considered with care -- insights that have been made by distinguished theorists such as Jane Tompkins. For instance, there is a strong emphasis in the networking book on not superficially judging people and maintaining an open attitude -- there is also a strong emphasis on service, kindness, generosity and helping others. Not that far afield from the spiritual insights and principles which you mention.

If I wanted to self-promote, I would link to my blog, which I never do. And if my tone sounded dismissive, then consider that I was responding to the initial dismissive comments that followed my first post.

Michael said...

Touchy... lighten up BH, you are only discussing a book :)

Thivai Abhor said...

BH,

What is distinguished about Jane Tompkins?

Is she a dark theorist that you despised, or a happy go-lucky one?

Now I'm beginning to think you are the author of the book... are you?

bh said...

Okay, I think that you're just messing with me now. Whatever. :)

bh said...

Okay, I think that you're just messing with me now. Whatever. :)

Anonymous said...

Well speaking from a corporate mgmt perspective, these things are not as worthless as some think. I am required to attend 6 "learning seminars" given by people who are respected in their fields of motivation, corporate culture, etc. ( No Thivai, not the guy who does Dilbert). Of course, being the sick, mentally warped person I am I have yet to find ONE single aspect that i can use on the job. I have incorporated many of these ideas expounded on into my personal life to great benefit. For example one instructor expressed that a positive attitude at home and the workplace was one of the most healthy things you can do for your life.

Taking this lesson to heart, I am now divorced, have custody of my daughter and happier and more content than I can remember being in YEARS. Work is still Dilbertville and the evil HR director finds my use of the English language appalling but damn I am happy. so you see, these people are providing a service!!!

ABBY :-P

brainwise said...

Don't sweat the December message, Thivai. I'm glad you're back in the blogosphere, and I'm glad to be interacting with you here.

Thivai Abhor said...

Abby,

Cone on now, I know you, what you are talking about wasn't the result of business seminars... but everything finally coming together so that you could put your life back on the track you desired?

You have always had one of the more positive outlooks i have known, even when you deserved to be angry and depressed...

Something I have always liked about you (and the underlying sarcasm that goes hand in hand with that optimism)

Anonymous said...

Well damn, I forgot we grew up together on the Left Coast. I told you that frigging agricultural testing was going to haunt us one day!!! to your point, No those seminars did not have much effect on me from a personal standpoint. I was actually just being my usual cynical, sarcastic self but in a warped frame of mind after having JUST ATTENDED MY FIRST ONE OF THOSE DAMN THINGS FOR THIS YEAR!!!!!!


SOOOO, how was Cali????

ABBY

Thivai Abhor said...

Ha, I was beginning to think someone kidnapped my ol' amigo abby and replaced him with a corporate management clone--I know you are in the the belly of the beast, but I've never known you to spout their cliches ;) I've always thought of you as a catalyzing enteran eating your way out from the inside...

Cali was superb--restful, healthy, sense of sanity, and resotoration of my root perspective!

My folks told me to tell you they said hello and they are happy to hear you are doing good and they want to know where you got a genius/athlete daughter. They said all the trouble we caused when we were young, its not fair that we have such good kids (well not me of course)... just us former delinquents in general...

Anonymous said...

Well according to my father i am in possession of many recessed genes from him which thankfully came out in my daughter. I mentioned that he has 3 highly intelligent children so it just follows that ours would be genetically inclined to be that way also.....he then was kind enough to point out that he was speaking of common sense, which he believes I am in short supply of. I asked him to mention one example of that supposed shortcoming....

Damn parents just do not forget the hell you put them through. I was completely over matched as he started with cliff diving at the Clam, some dubious and highly suspicious pharmaceutical testing and then he got rolling!! HAHAHAHAHA


As for being a management clone , not likely. I have however discovered that when sitting in one of the endless meetings on strategic planning that asking the question " WHY are we doing this" always stumps them. There is a go along to get along mentality that i tend to have issues with. I think this is why when we moved to the new IT HQ for our corp they put my cube right smack between all the directors and the VP so that they can annoy me all day. BASTARDS!

Thivai Abhor said...

She is definitely your daughter :) and it is good to see you so proud of her!

Check out this:

A Tale of Two Cockies

Okir said...

Glad to be of service, Thivai. However, whenever I read about the Dalai Lama or Thich Nhat Hahn urging people to "resist" negative thoughts, I always wonder what's going on with them, or if they've been misquoted, since a major tenet of Buddhist meditation practice is not to "resist" such thoughts, but rather to observe them and even experience them as they arise and depart in one's consciousness, without necessarily judging them as "bad" or "good." Such a practice should then lead to an experience similar to the one you had, in which one realizes the extent to which negative and judgemental thoughts occur and dominate our lives and influence our outlook.

I'm also surprised when people equate "positive" self-help books to something like Buddhism, because my experience of the two is that they are quite different.

Positive self-help books often focus exclusively on the positive at the expense of numbing oneself to the darker experiences in life -- a practice of repression that is eventually not very useful.

Buddhist meditative practice, however, insists on being present and mindful towards whatever comes up, whether it's happiness, anger, negative judgement, rage, sadness, desire, whatever (and different traditions add various practices for dealing with these states). For beginning practitioners it can be quite intense and unpleasant, initially, to see what's really going on in there when you pay attention. And then, yes, you make ethical decisions, say no or yes, and take action, but based on a clearer sense of experienced reality, hopefully.

But the point is to remove that layer of numbness that we all develop over time, to see through it, and to experience what's really happening, both internally and externally.

Thivai Abhor said...

Okir,

Well put... that was what I was trying to communicate to BH about the business self-help books...

Likewise, as I mentioned in another post my happiness in this is not an ignorance of the negativity in the world, instead I want to realize/understand these feelings (and the negative processes of our society) to better understand and deal with them.

I've been working with a couple of things that have been helping me a bit. Buddhist texts (suggested by my good friend Tim), yoga/tai chi (suggested by a professor when I was a grad student), Robert Anton Wilson's Prometheus Rising (suggested by my cousin David) and Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki's Illuminations (suggested by my good friend Starrider). Other suggestions are always appreciated...

Obviously I'm exploring and keeping an open mind... not sure yet where I am going with all of this... developing and cultivating a healthy amusement and recognition of the absurdity/chaos of life/world (what keeps me sane).

Thanks again Okir.

bh said...

"I'm also surprised when people equate "positive" self-help books to something like Buddhism, because my experience of the two is that they are quite different."

I wasn't making this "equation" -- not at all. Rather, I was noting that people gravitate towards the "positive" in whatever format or genre it appears.

Not everyone stuck in the belly of the corporate beast has the advantage of a cultural studies education. You can be a cynical as you want about business self-help but the reality is that people make do with whatever texts they encounter in whatever contexts they find themselves. The corporate intentions of those books need not be the end results or effects. I am talking about a bricoleur approach.

And theory books which critique, critique, critique are not exactly exemplars of Buddhism, either.

And if you are talking about Buddhism, who could not recommend Pema Chodron and especially *The Places That Scare You*?

Oops. now I am going to get charged with promotion again. :)

Thivai Abhor said...

BH--let me start by apologizing about the self-promotion crack, seriously blogs get spammed often these days and I made a haphazard assumption about your first post, its obvious this is not what you are doing and that you are willing to engage in dialogue.

You said you had a blog? Why not link it so that we can get a grasp of who you are?

Thanks for thge suggestion of the latest book--it looks very interesting (and it should be obvious that I have nothing against referring books that one likes).

You might though want to save your gripes about cultural studies/academia/theory and save them for when I actually write about those subjects--which I often do (this post once again really had nothing to do with those disciplines/professions/perspectives).

Okir said...

bh: I have no problem with people using business self-help books at all (I've used em too), and I think people should use whatever is helpful. Bricoleur works for me. So does collage, making do, garage sales, straddling the borders, and the old Filipino standby, abilidad (a combination of all of the above, with a little tricksterish opportunism thrown in). We need it all if we are to survive this century.

Pema Chodron's Places That Scare You has been very helpful. I could use it right now...

Thivai Abhor said...

Shambhala Sun has a huge online archive of Chodron's teachings:

Pema Chodron

bh said...

"You might though want to save your gripes about cultural studies/academia/theory and save them for when I actually write about those subjects--which I often do (this post once again really had nothing to do with those disciplines/professions/perspectives)."

It's called *free* association. I really don't see how any of my comments are not connected associatively to the subject matter of your post or your comments thereafter. I didn't know that the comments section had to be precisely constrained to what you are "actually writing about" at the moment.

And you did exhibit a small degree of shot-gun prejudice against business self-help in your two initial responses, and so I decided to play devil's advocate in the interest of thinking differently.

And how does "devising action/theories to analyze/mobilize against injustice/exploitation" have nothing to do with cultural studies -- with the discipline or perspectives of cultural studies? Your post may not have had anything to do with "those disciplines/professions/perspectives," yet your responses thereafter did allude to a cultural studies perspective, and thus, I was suggesting how "business self-help" might actually fit into that perspective.

"It is neither good nor bad, but thinking makes it so."

Thivai Abhor said...

No, BH, you are wrong.

I'm sorry if you have had bad experiences in academia or with cultural studies, but one more time, that post had absolutely nothing to do with either.

This is why I keep correcting you on it, because you have yet to really respond to the post, all you have done is suggest business pop philosophy as an answer to some nebulous dark theory books (no explanation to ground your contempt) and said books having nothing to do with the post it seemed utterly ridiculous tht you would bring it up.

My response to business self-help was not a shotgun response, but a precise and direct response to the particular book you suggested, in that you were equating it with the spirituality of Dahlai Lamai and the politics of MLK.

Free association is one thing, I'll aplaud it when you do it, that was more of an agenda--no problem in itself, but if you put it out expect a response.

Its a common expectation that comments on a post refer to that post--otherwise things can get confusing. It doesn't mean that you can't refer to other posts--but you neither referred to this post (directly) or any other post (directly). Once again an axe to grind or an agenda--not a problem, but naive to think you wouldn't get a reaction from me in regards to this?

You said:

"how does "devising action/theories to analyze/mobilize against injustice/exploitation" have nothing to do with cultural studies -- with the discipline or perspectives of cultural studies?"

Ha, yeah b/c this strange discipline of cultural studies that you have no definition for and have demonstrated no understanding of, originated human resistance, thought, and action. So we are grouping these things under some cultural studies umbrella now?

If you are so forthcoming and honest why don't you link this blog you say you have so that your position and stance is more forthright and clear?

What are you afraid of...?

bh said...

Huh? What in the world are you talking about? I just linked the blog in the last post.

And I have worked in cultural studies & theory for fifteen years so I think that I have the prerogative of off-the-cuff, generalistic, semi-ironic commentary. From a visceral, readerly standpoint, a lot of theory is kind of darkish & dispiriting in its tone and diction. Sure, I could elaborate -- but then that would only draw this out further. You took offense at the start of this comments section where there was none intended.

And there is no way that in that initial comment that I was suggesting that "business pop philosophy" was an answer -- or the sole answer -- to anything. Again, it was an observation a la reader response theory about what folks are drawn towards -- what feeds their souls, so to speak, and speaks to their needs. Their kindred need for more positivity in their life. Nor was I equating "business self help" with Buddhism. Please slow down here.

So, cultural theorists don't "devise action/theories to analyze/mobilize against injustice/exploitation"? Is that what you're saying? And you're the person who brought up the issue of being editor of a certain cultural studies journal.

I think you have made a series of assumptions that are way off base. My observations, here, have nothing to do with any personal gripes or bad experiences. Rather, they are observations about the institutional, cultural & textual forces that work against positivity. I would submit that you can't talk about "thinking positively" without looking at those [institutional & corporate] forces & practices that subvert/undermine positive thinking -- those critical practices that emanate negativity.

I just don't have time for a drawn out argument here, and that was not my intention in the initial observation. It kind of runs contrary to what the post was about in the first place. The defensivenes wasn't necessary, as that wasn't where I was coming from.

bh said...

" and said books having nothing to do with the post it seemed utterly ridiculous tht you would bring it up."

Really? They have nothing to do with "thinking positively" and struggling against debilitating negativity? Again, bricoleur ...

"My response to business self-help was not a shotgun response, but a precise and direct response to the particular book you suggested, in that you were equating it with the spirituality of Dahlai Lamai and the politics of MLK."

You glossed the book from Amazon reviews and an Amazon blurb. And where does this "equating" word keep coming from?

" that was more of an agenda"

Please. Sigh.

Thivai Abhor said...

Brainy Heart,

You state:

"I think that I have the prerogative of off-the-cuff, generalistic, semi-ironic commentary."

and you should expect the same in return--kind of funny that you get upset when you do this and you get upset at responses that reply in kind.

You state:

"I have worked in cultural studies & theory for fifteen years"

Could you elaborate--because I have heard anything from you that would confirm this... you seem to have a very vague idea of what cultural studies and theory in general consists of (and especially annoying is your willingness to conflate them under one label--as if that is not ridiculous in itself!). What kind of cultural studies do you practice?

You state:

"From a visceral, readerly standpoint, a lot of theory is kind of darkish & dispiriting in its tone and diction. Sure, I could elaborate -- but then that would only draw this out further. You took offense at the start of this comments section where there was none intended."

Yes, and a lot of it is mindless celebration and happy-go-lucky. These blanket statements do us no good--could you be a little more specific (this is the basics of critical thought--is it not?) You could elaborate and I on't think it has anything to do with you not wanting to draw this out because here you are after 30+ comments saying the same thing, over and over, without any detail, and not identifying what has you upset (theoretically). I took offense b/c you dismised "dark theory" in a post about spirtuality and then refused to elaborate on what are these mysterious dark theories.

You state:

"And there is no way that in that initial comment that I was suggesting that "business pop philosophy" was an answer -- or the sole answer -- to anything."

I never said that? Why would you use it as an argument?

You state:

"Again, it was an observation a la reader response theory about what folks are drawn towards -- what feeds their souls, so to speak, and speaks to their needs."

No, it was not an observation and it involved no theoretical thinking at all, instead, to quote you, it was an: "off-the-cuff, generalistic, semi-ironic commentary." You intended it that way--did you not (once again I only have your words to judge your intent?)

You state:

"Again, it was an observation a la reader response theory about what folks are drawn towards -- what feeds their souls, so to speak, and speaks to their needs. Their kindred need for more positivity in their life."

Who are these "folks" you speak of... is this a research project of yours--I would be interested to hear more about, if so, if not, aren't you making some hazy assumptions here?

You state:

"Nor was I equating "business self help" with Buddhism. Please slow down here."

Uh, actually you were... revisit the first comment you left here.

You state:

"So, cultural theorists don't "devise action/theories to analyze/mobilize against injustice/exploitation"? Is that what you're saying? And you're the person who brought up the issue of being editor of a certain cultural studies journal."

Not what I said, I know you are an afficiando of reader-reponse theory and I understand my responsibility to clearly state and define what I say so tha the reader doesn't misinterpret my intent--so let me try again by sharing again what I said(read it twice if that helps)

I originally stated:

"Ha, yeah b/c this strange discipline of cultural studies that you have no definition for and have demonstrated no understanding of, originated human resistance, thought, and action. So we are grouping these things under some cultural studies umbrella now?"

as a response to your "forcing" my desire to make changes in the world as some nebulously defined "cultural studies" project... it is my fault, I should have been clearer. You are wrong! People can think, act, and collaborate without it being shuffled into a cultural studies umbrella (sorry, I will try to speak more clearly in communication with you from now on)

You state:

"I think you have made a series of assumptions that are way off base. My observations, here, have nothing to do with any personal gripes or bad experiences."

I always make assumptions--I'm human and that is our lot and I do try to reflect and revisit (not always successful and, yes, I can be an asshole), but... having finally been clued into who you really are and visiting your weblog, I see that you are complaining about these nasty dark theories and promoting a philosophy of nurturing in response (which seems very similar to what I originally posted and for the life of me I have no idea why you felt a need to begin a rant about dark theories and the abuses of cultural studies in the comment of that post). Philosophically speaking I admire the theory of nurturing in the context of "cultivating" and have used in the classroom and in my writings the scholar Nel Noddings, who professes a nurturing outlook, and, oh no, incoroporates a dark critical outlook into their nurturing philosophy. What is the state of America these days, how could a nurturing person, who cares about their students, their community, and their future, not develop a dark critical edge--this is not the same as negativity--negativity is disempowering--the critical, nurturing, thinking person recognizes the problems, and still has the courage to continue and to care.

You state:

"Rather, they are observations about the institutional, cultural & textual forces that work against positivity."

Did I miss something, because you left nothing like this in your comments--is it somewhere else? please do share ;)

You state:

"I would submit that you can't talk about "thinking positively" without looking at those [institutional & corporate] forces & practices that subvert/undermine positive thinking -- those critical practices that emanate negativity."

or perhaps we should just open up a business-sales book and slap each other on the back :)

You state:

"I just don't have time for a drawn out argument here, and that was not my intention in the initial observation. It kind of runs contrary to what the post was about in the first place. The defensivenes wasn't necessary, as that wasn't where I was coming from."

Then why are you here after 30+ plus comments--it des seem to be necessary to you and it is very hypocritical of you to end a longt post with that comment, as if you could defang any possibly critique?

I'm amused by you--you do not make me angry (that is the negativity I was speaking about)--and I enjoy talking to you about these things, but that does not mean I won't call you on your evasions or your blanket assumptions.

Sorry I expect more...

bh said...

Let me say this: nothing about your last comment is Buddhist or spiritual in nature. It's all about you telling me how you think I am wrong or you thinking that you have some prerogative from which to judge me -- which is a very negative practice. Speaking of crossing over into the dark side. And you're still way off base here -- contorting my words left and right, suggesting that I have some personal grievance against theory (so not true) and that because I have a single post up right now about how the terrain of affectivity is monopolized by high theory scholars that that has something to do with this exchange (which it does not at all), attacking my background which you know nothing about (people are free to experimentally take all sorts of positions that may not be consistent with expectations -- call me a heretic, whatever). Talk about darkness and negativity. And how do you possibly expect me to respond when you cut and tear my responses into a little million snippets that go in all directions? And who appointed you the judge of me? Huh?

You won't even allow that there might be something transformatively valuable about the self-help book that I originally linked to and that there might be some cultural value that exceeds its status as a capitalistic "sales" book and that something might have to do with how it addresses folks' quest for positivity in the world outside of the standard, conventional cultural critique discourses that you iterate in your first two responses. There are tons of sales technique books out there that do not hit the best seller's list and that do advocate "dog-eat-dog," backstabbing, undercutting capitalism, unlike the one that I was linking to. And not all capitalism is inherently evil and wrong, as if how dare anybody publish -- or gasp, recommend -- books that suggest salesmanship might be underwritten by *service* to others, a positive ethic and a non-judgmental attitude without being part of the "bad guys"? Advocating a non-judgmental, open attitude -- in contrast to your most recent response -- is actually quite buddhist in nature in the sense that one is practicing the suspension of negative, premature judgments. Not the "numbing" of negativity, but rather the suspension of negative, inaccurate judgments and assumptions that are anti-buddhist in nature. That's not an equation, either; it's a comparison.

"Then why are you here after 30+ plus comments--it des seem to be necessary to you and it is very hypocritical of you to end a longt post with that comment, as if you could defang any possibly critique?"

Because you still have not comprehended the point of my first comment insofar as you think that I was advocating a non-critical, anti-resistant, reactionary capitalistic perspective.

And who is to say that some defanging is not necessary here? Especially when the inital post was about positivity. How is walking around with fangs out a positive, buddhist practice?

bh said...

"I originally stated:

"Ha, yeah b/c this strange discipline of cultural studies that you have no definition for and have demonstrated no understanding of, originated human resistance, thought, and action. So we are grouping these things under some cultural studies umbrella now?"

as a response to your "forcing" my desire to make changes in the world as some nebulously defined "cultural studies" project... it is my fault, I should have been clearer. You are wrong! People can think, act, and collaborate without it being shuffled into a cultural studies umbrella (sorry, I will try to speak more clearly in communication with you from now on)"

Correct me if I am wrong -- and I am sure you will -- but who represented himself as an editor of QUOTE cultural studies journal UNQUOTE? How is that self-characterization not umbrella-like? And how were your first two responses not cultural-studies-like in rhetoric? Pray do tell.

And you have absolutely no clue what you are talking about when you assert that I have no understanding of cultural studies. If you only knew how "ridiculous" that statement was.

The self-help book that I linked to at the start of this thread is a *cultural artifact* with arbitary, unfixed value/meanings that are dependent upon the contexts in which it circulates into. I could likewise question your comprehension of cultural studies to the extent that you do recognize that analysis as belonging to cultural studies.

Thivai Abhor said...

BH,

I'm not a buddhist and I never said I was, why would you even think something so ridiculous--that should be obvious, even to you (sorry I should have spelled it out for you)

I have a really, really dark side and I recognize and embrace it--welcome to my dark side. Having a dark side is a part of being human--you don't have one (hmm, you must be the first--can we patent it and sell it? Sounds like a great business book, ignoring your dark side for fun and profit)

For an advocate of reader-response you sure get snippety when a reader responds ;)

You have neglected to respond to any of the critiques of your statements... you have never defined or clarified your points--perhaps you can't or are unwilling to do that?

I understand, it is difficult...

You state:

"And you have absolutely no clue what you are talking about when you assert that I have no understanding of cultural studies. If you only knew how "ridiculous" that statement was."

Prove me wrong--what do you understand... as it is you throw terms and ideas around with no understanding or explanation.

If you don't like what I have to say or are unwilling to clarify your statements--then don't visit my weblog--it really is very simple (sorry to have to spell it out for you again)

{laughing} you really have to do that from time to time

Thivai Abhor said...

Oh yeah,

You state:

"Correct me if I am wrong -- and I am sure you will -- but who represented himself as an editor of QUOTE cultural studies journal UNQUOTE? How is that self-characterization not umbrella-like? And how were your first two responses not cultural-studies-like in rhetoric? "

So what if I edit a cultural studies journal ... it is but one of many things I do. You like to pigeon-hole people, don't you, does that make it easier for you?

Once again what is this "cultural studies" that you are a master of? what is this "dark theory" that threatens you?

Please, please, please, if you have anything further to say--address those questions that I have asked you many times, otherwise don't bother...

and try to lighten up... its all words and really means nothing in the end (I don't know you and you don't know me)

Yours in cognitive dissonance

XOXO Thivai

bh said...

I want to add here that your last response was downright patronizing. Really.

To quote, "Who are these 'folks' you speak of... is this a research project of yours--I would be interested to hear more about, if so, if not, aren't you making some hazy assumptions here?"

Did you not read the part about "Amazon sales rank of 48 right now"? -- meaning that lots of folks are buying the book as a matter of mass appeal. There is quantitative data right there, in my first comment.

To quote, "You have neglected to respond to any of the critiques of your statements... you have never defined or clarified your points--perhaps you can't or are unwilling to do that?

I understand, it is difficult..."

Again, really patronizing and offensive. Nothing that I have written here has merited that kind of ad hominem attack. I am not obligated to respond to all of your critiques in order to prove myself to you. This isn't an inquisition. My entire identity and background is not wrapped-up in a few comments on your blog and presented to you for judgment. And you apparently didn't read the part of my second comment in which I stated that I had "all sorts of issues with the author being corporate guru" and such, preempting your "critiques." I already stated issues with that. Nor did you apparently read the comment about my argument being that of a bricoleur approach -- taking what is valuable and discarding what is not. Nor did you apparently read my comment about "critique" not being a buddhist practice in the sense that it sets out to judge - and you did prematurely judge my first comment, as if it represented the entirety of my identiy or position. What you wrote in your first two comments is old hat to me -- by linking to that book, I was not suggesting anything about saying "'yes' to everything" -- that was not the point of the comment, and contrary to the title, that was not what the book was about. There is no way that I was denying the importance of resistance or "devising action/theories to analyze/mobilize against injustice/exploitation" simply by linking to that book. My entire issue here was that you jumped to a wild conclusion on the basis of the title of the book alone and a few blurbs/recoommendations - you set forth to indict me and the book without asking any questions or allowing that there might be feasible connections.

To quote," I see that you are complaining about these nasty dark theories and promoting a philosophy of nurturing in response (which seems very similar to what I originally posted and for the life of me I have no idea why you felt a need to begin a rant about dark theories and the abuses of cultural studies in the comment of that post)."

This is a gross, hyperbolic distortion of my argument. The hyperbolic qualifiers "nasty" and the "abuses of ..." are really uncalled for here. I never said any such thing, and it bothers me how you are distorting my argument here. Where exactly did I say anything about the "abuses of cultural studies"? Please.

What is "darkish" is the tendency within critique to try to annhiliate positions that differ from one's own before taking the time to listen to them. What is "darkish" is presuming that everything must be critiqued -- as if there is not other methods of intereaction and critical inquiry.

Thivai Abhor said...

I could care less about the qualifications of a business pop philosophy book--why are you fixated on me respecting it?

You have repeatedly dismissed these so-called "theory" (also at your weblog) and "cultural studies"--I simply wanted you to define what you are talking about.

If this bugs you so much quit coming here? If I wanted to be a negative asshole I would bring it to your weblog... I'm simply asking for some clarification when you visit mine--something you seem incapable of doing?

Yes, I was patronizing, extremely so, because nothing else worked and I was hoping that might--nope, you still refuse to explain what is that you dislike about theory/academia/cultural studies (or to explain what you are talking about when you mention these terms that you so foolishly believe are self-evident)

Have you laughed yet--because this is very absurd ;) I'm amused, you have to be... don't take all of this so serious.

bh said...

You *are* being an arrogant, "negative asshole." Your words, not mine, yet they certainly fit.

I have taught numerous courses in cultural studies, and written numerous papers related to cultural studies. As such, your comments here are really disrespectful and demeaning insofar as you know who I am. As such, I am not amused. And I have absolutely nothing to prove to you. I am not a student of yours -- I have colleague status, and the way you are addressing me is entirely inappropriate.

What makes you think that you are allowed to address me in such a patronizing, vitriolic manner? Because you have seen others do it? Because of the name of my blog -- which is an extension of my theoretical work in emotional ethnography? Because of the image on that blog? What makes you think you can get away with talking to me as if I were a student? It's really disrespectful, and not amusing at all.

Thivai Abhor said...

I'm definitely not talking to you like a student--I respect my students, you, on the other hand...

I have no idea who you are, nor do I care.

You must feel like you have something to prove to me--cause here you are again whining when you could just quit coming back here. What do you have to prove to me?

You still have not defined what cultural studies is or what you dislike about those damn dark theories ;)

... and yes, I said I can be an arrogant negative asshole, especially when dealing with purposefully evasive and vague people who dismiss ideas without any definition of what they are talking--so what, try telling me something I don't know.

You are not a colleague of mine and you have not earned my respect--why do you think it should be just given to you?

Still laughing--thanks for cheering me up!

bh said...

When you go to a conference, and you meet colleagues and they inform you that they are working in cultural studies, do you stand there, insulting them, and demand that they provide you with an elementary definition of a field that is as wide and vast as cultural studies? Do you stand there and ask them to prove themselves to you by answering insulting elementary questions that are far below their level of work? Is this the way you address them?

You yourself keep making assertions without backing them up. You have made loads of assertions in your last several comments that you don't support with quotations, evidence or interpretative explanation. Pray tell, please provide a quotation in which I "dismiss" something, and explain how you interpret that comment as being "dismissive." [And commenting on the visceral texture of writing in a general manner is not "dismissive."] Can you do that? Back-up your comments with supportive quotations? Insofar as you don't, won't and/or can't, I question your status as a composition instructor. You can't even provide supportive evidence for your exaggerative claims and explicate the thought process by which you arrived at those [distorted] interpretations. I fail students for the kinds of unsupported ad hominum attacks that you are performing.

Thivai Abhor said...

BH,

Why do you care about what I think?

Why do you keep coming back here... what is it you need?

Let me know and I can try to help you out--if you truly need it this bad?

I understand that you are unable or unwilling to explain these terms--fine, but then why come back here? Cause I won't quit asking ...

Tell me what you want me to explain (try to be specific please) and I will explain it to you--gladly, but then I expect the same in return.

Thivai Abhor said...

What I'm trying to say is that you are either a good scholar or you are not? Do you really need my approval that bad?

I'm not commenting on your professional work, I have no idea what you have done in that regards... all I am doing is commenting on what you have written here.

Feel free to continue to critique and slam me, it really doesn't bother me b/c you know nothing about me.

I hope you find whatever it is you are looking for--peace!

Thivai Abhor said...

Sorry, I wanted to address this, but I was multi-tasking, so...

You state:

"When you go to a conference, and you meet colleagues and they inform you that they are working in cultural studies, do you stand there, insulting them, and demand that they provide you with an elementary definition of a field that is as wide and vast as cultural studies? Do you stand there and ask them to prove themselves to you by answering insulting elementary questions that are far below their level of work? Is this the way you address them?"
--------------------------------
I would if they were dismissive about what they were talking about... and since when is asking for some clarification and definition trivial? Cultural Studies is blanket name with many traditions/methods/theories worldwide--there is truly no "real" thing as cultural studies, instead there are many disciplines/theories/perspectives that are covered generally by the term, but I would assume ou would know this as you have been working in it for 15 years. The same goes for (critical) "theory" another problematic term used by many.

Thus my questions asking for you to define what you were talking about (and when is answering questions below someone?)

bh said...

To quote, "I would if they were dismissive about what they were talking about."

Again, explain where you think that I was being "dismissive" of anything? Just once, explain.

If you can't, then stop goading this on. First, you ask why I keep coming back here, and then you goad some more. Who, after all, made the arrogant statement, "prove me wrong"??? You implore someone to "prove you wrong" -- as if you were some kind of arbitrator-king -- and then you turn around and ask them why they think that they need your approval? Huh? That's pretty twisted.

To quote, "there is truly no "real" thing as cultural studies, instead there are many disciplines/theories/perspectives that are covered generally by the term, but I would assume ou would know this as you have been working in it for 15 years. The same goes for (critical) "theory" another problematic term used by many."

Exactly. So, why do you need to go around asking people to give you a definition of that which you already know to be exhaustively all-encompassing in detail? Again, twisted.

Thivai Abhor said...

BH,

You are kind of dense aren't you?

My proposal was an either/or thing:

1) Explain yourself and the terms you wish to use

2) Quit coming here and whining about how you get no respect (once again why come back if that is how you feel)

In your solipsistic vision you think i care: whether you respond or whether you do anything. I don't... I would prefer that you just disappear, but you haven't and yes, in my own twisted way, I just can't quit responding to your comments... but as I said I laugh at the absurdity of it... while you on the other hand get mad ;)


You state:

"So, why do you need to go around asking people to give you a definition of that which you already know to be exhaustively all-encompassing in detail?"

You really are not that ignorant of intellectual discussions and argument, are you? The first step is always to define your position and method and where you fit into the scheme of things--so that people are able to better understand where you are coming from and are able to reply directly to your position.

Wow, you have to stop this, my stomach is starting to hurt from laughing so hard--thanks again ;)

bh said...

""There's work to be done against military service, against all schools, against the pervasive masculine urge to judge, diagnose, digest, name ..." -- Helene Cixous, "Castration or Decapitation?"

Thivai Abhor said...

Yes, when all else fails dismiss me b/c I am a man:

"A certain kind of feminism, or perhaps I should say a certain kind of feminist naiveté, died in Abu Ghraib. It was a feminism that saw men as the perpetual perpetrators, women as the perpetual victims and male sexual violence against women as the root of all injustice. Rape has repeatedly been an instrument of war and, to some feminists, it was beginning to look as if war was an extension of rape. There seemed to be at least some evidence that male sexual sadism was connected to our species' tragic propensity for violence. That was before we had seen female sexual sadism in action.

But it's not just the theory of this naive feminism that was wrong. So was its strategy and vision for change. That strategy and vision rested on the assumption, implicit or stated outright, that women were morally superior to men. We had a lot of debates over whether it was biology or conditioning that gave women the moral edge -- or simply the experience of being a woman in a sexist culture. But the assumption of superiority, or at least a lesser inclination toward cruelty and violence, was more or less beyond debate. After all, women do most of the caring work in our culture, and in polls are consistently less inclined toward war than men.

I'm not the only one wrestling with that assumption today. Mary Jo Melone, a columnist for the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, wrote on May 7: "I can't get that picture of England [pointing at a hooded Iraqi man's genitals] out of my head because this is not how women are expected to behave. Feminism taught me 30 years ago that not only had women gotten a raw deal from men, we were morally superior to them."

If that assumption had been accurate, then all we would have had to do to make the world a better place -- kinder, less violent, more just -- would have been to assimilate into what had been, for so many centuries, the world of men. We would fight so that women could become the generals, CEOs, senators, professors and opinion-makers -- and that was really the only fight we had to undertake. Because once they gained power and authority, once they had achieved a critical mass within the institutions of society, women would naturally work for change. That's what we thought, even if we thought it unconsciously -- and it's just not true. Women can do the unthinkable.

You can't even argue, in the case of Abu Ghraib, that the problem was that there just weren't enough women in the military hierarchy to stop the abuses. The prison was directed by a woman, Gen. Janis Karpinski. The top U.S. intelligence officer in Iraq, who also was responsible for reviewing the status of detainees before their release, was Major Gen. Barbara Fast. And the U.S. official ultimately responsible for managing the occupation of Iraq since October was Condoleezza Rice. Like Donald H. Rumsfeld, she ignored repeated reports of abuse and torture until the undeniable photographic evidence emerged.

What we have learned from Abu Ghraib, once and for all, is that a uterus is not a substitute for a conscience. This doesn't mean gender equality isn't worth fighting for for its own sake. It is. If we believe in democracy, then we believe in a woman's right to do and achieve whatever men can do and achieve, even the bad things. It's just that gender equality cannot, all alone, bring about a just and peaceful world.

In fact, we have to realize, in all humility, that the kind of feminism based on an assumption of female moral superiority is not only naive; it also is a lazy and self-indulgent form of feminism. Self-indulgent because it assumes that a victory for a woman -- a promotion, a college degree, the right to serve alongside men in the military -- is by its very nature a victory for all of humanity. And lazy because it assumes that we have only one struggle -- the struggle for gender equality -- when in fact we have many more. "

What Abu Ghraib Taught Me by Barbara Ehrenreich

While there is much to admire in Cixous this notion that it is simply a masculine impulse to dominate and control is ridiculous and dangerous. Beware the dangers of simplistic binary impulse to "judge, diagnose, digest"

Good try though... it would be a lot more effective though if I idn't spend a considerable amount of time fighting for women's issues on this website and in my community.

If you were a man I would have asked you the same questions... to what extent will you go?

bh said...

""There's work to be done against military service, against all schools, against the pervasive masculine urge to judge, diagnose, digest, name ..." -- Helene Cixous, "Castration or Decapitation?"

It's not about being a man -- it's about masculine behavior and the ways that men tend to behave, even with other men.

You can tell the difference between adjectives and nouns, right? Yes, a taste of your own medicine.

It's not about who or what you are; it's about the practices you were engaged in. Even if you exhibited the same behavior in conversing with a man, it's still "the pervasive masculine urge to judge, diagnose, digest, name." The issue here is with the method of interaction and the underlying structure.

Thivai Abhor said...

My response still pertains--simplistic binary used to simply dismiss that we all have these urges, yeah, its just as ignorant to dismiss the masculine as simply aggressive, as it is to dismiss the feminine as passive/unworthy (I do neither, because I realize that the world is much more complicate than that).

I wish you much healing with your anger and insecurity (this is sincere--and I am not hypocritical in saying it, as I am the first to admit that I deal with the same issues all the time--there you go something else to throw in my face)

Take care of yourself BH

bh said...

Again, you misinterpret the quotation -- it's about the patronizing behavior that you were engaged and which you perpetuate in this further response. There was nothing dismissive about that quotation by Cixous; rather it was an analysis of discursive behavior.

And anger is a force of cultural/institutional change. If you can't deal with an angry woman after you insult her, that is your problem. You're just another man who "dismisses" -- yes, your word -- an analysis by pathologizing the woman. It's an old tactic.

Thivai Abhor said...

For an advocate of reader-response theory you have a very limited tolerance for other opinions/readings.

At first I was just playing with you, then I felt sorry for you, now you are just ridiculous, finally you are just really boring... but having visited your site and seeing it for myself and noticing the lack of discussion--its no surprise.

It is interesting how you are so dismissive of one's gender, yet claim to be fighting against that.

I'm leaving for DC to protest the war, if you want to complain some more it will have to be a monologue--but I'm sure that won't be a problem for you.

I will misinterpret constantly--it is the human condition...

"Communication is a successful misunderstanding." Jacques Lacan

bh said...

" but having visited your site and seeing it for myself and noticing the lack of discussion--its no surprise."

That's because some people don't go around promoting their blogs on every single blog they visit -- unlike Dialogic. It's about being under the radar.

You might want to retire that word "dismissive." The "simplistic" word is getting worn out, too.

Thivai Abhor said...

Ha, sounds like sour grapes to me... no one visits me b/c I refuse to whore myself by actually engaging with people.

A very simplistic dismissal ...

bh said...

I comment and dialogue pseudonymously on a wide range of blogs. Figure that one out.

Thivai Abhor said...

unwilling to clarify your points and position--much like your presence here--easier to do that when you post that way

bh said...

It was quite interesting how in the same breath as you denied any relevance to that Cixous quote that you then proceeded to judge my blog and then engage in more ad hominem judgments. Someone seems to be in denial. And as if you cannot imagine that someone could have an online conversation without promoting their blog. -- you must have missed the blogless 1990’s.

IMO, there is no such thing as a male feminist who goes around macho-like boasting about being a “negative asshole.” If I could have a dollar for everytime that I have heard a theory boy -- go ahead, accuse me of being “dismissive” of theory -- announce that he is a provocateur “asshole. It’s a living cliche. It’s as if it’s you guys’ way of compensating for being in a feminized profession, i.e., teaching. Yet when you are provoked -- like right now -- you get defensive. Double standard? Maybe.

You theory boys are all cut from the same fabric; your minds are wired in similar ways. There you were, earlier in these comments, badgering for the name of my blog -- even though you already had an inkling as to who it was from the initials --- demanding, in other words, that I show you my identity papers. [See Foucault.] And for what purpose? Well, of course, so that you could proceed to judge, diagnose and attack. And, so, how is it “dismissive” to regard the masculine as aggressive? It’s like going on a reconaissance mission so that you can determine the weaknesses of your opponent. Yet why must nearly every interaction be structured that way? Leave the name of your blog so that I can conduct reconnaissance on you ...

And in response to that Ehrenreich article, well, it’s misguided in its premises because it doesn’t consider how the overall institutional structure in which those military women were immersed was masculine in nature. They were agents of a masculinized, hierarchical structure built by men -- to obtain their rankings in the military and administration, they had to play by men’s rules. Was Condeleeza Rice simply operating on her own accord? No, she was a puppet/agent of the administration. Even women can possess masculinized consciousnesses insofar as they have been traind and disciplined by masculinized , hierarchal institutions. Similar things could be said about some academic feminists. Ehrenreich takes a small handful of women who have been indoctrinated into the system and sets them up as strawwomen for womankind as a whole, as if their existence alone is an indictment against gender equality. Well, they and their uteruses do not exist in a vacuum; rather, they are indoctrinated institutional agents -- many of whom have to renounce their feminine inclinations to obtain their successes. They are products of the State, in other words, not representatives of womenkind. yi

Thivai Abhor said...

Yawn... did you say something?

You are in love with yourself :)

Thivai Abhor said...

In other words I give up... I don't have time for you BH and as I told you when you started emailing me offline, I don't really care what you have to say.

Feel free to carry on a monologue here... I know how concerned you are about your image and you really don't have anyone talking to you at your site.

Good luck with all of those lawasuits against you that you told me about in your emails.

bh said...

Huh? What total BS. How much more distorted could that be? You emailed me three times in a row when I didn't respond to you.

bh said...

Just to set the record straight, there are NO lawsuits against me. That is so much nonsense.

This is just your way of trying to provoke me. Cute. Very cute. Provoke, provoke, provoke. And then claim that you don't really care what I have to say. Again, twisted to the tenth degree.

Thivai Abhor said...

For those that may care:

BH,

Is somewhat wacked... she emailed me offline multiple times to give me justifications for her behavior here ... first it was detailing of her personal tragedies (which I could symapthize with and said I was sorry to hear about), then she started emailing me about various lawsuits against her due to her actions online--she claims that they are from corporations and this is why she is somewhat paranoid (I didn't really understand how that applied to me as I am not a corporation?) Then she just slipped into weird personal attacks till I got tired of the negativity daily popping up in my email and blocked her.

I hope you get help...

Thivai Abhor said...

Now she is threatening me on other emails--now blocked--for simply recounting what she wrote to me.

How can you slander an entity known as BH?

Fair warning, if you deal with BH...