Manifesto

Or maybe a kind of a mission statement.  Or really?  Probably just a brief explanation of what I intend to do and an apology in advance for when all of that goes off the rails.  We aspire to the highest and best within ourselves, but sometimes that comes out in the form of fart jokes.

It has been probably ten years since I became aware that people were out there blogging, trailing mental bread crumbs across cyberspace to lead them and others back to random and occasionally deep thoughts.  I watched the blogging “fad” — who knew that daily brain dumps by ordinary people would actually become popular? — follow on my more tech-savvy friends (and siblings) establishing homepages with personal information, editing and editing and editing them so that while you didn’t have historical information, if you checked frequently you had the equivalent of the latest post.  Tuning into people’s AOL home pages turned into keeping up with their lives.

I read on as amateurs started to affect politics, and Tia Tequilla’s progenitors started to promote themselves for their 15 minutes of fame.  I toyed with the idea of starting a blog myself.  Early on, it occurred to me here and there to start a blog myself because it looked like fun.

That plan suffered a setback in 1998.  My ex-wife, then my fiance, was living in Williamsburg with me while I was in law school, and she complained that our exile to Hampton Roads left her out of touch with family and friends.  For her birthday, I spent dozens of hours teaching myself HTML tricks, gathering photos and sketching designs in the margins of my notes during lectures.  When mid-October rolled around, I proudly presented my ready-to-go homepage for us as a birthday present.  My reasoning was that by delivering a URL to everyone she didn’t seem to have time to call, just updating the page would allow everyone to know she was safe and happy.  The fatal flaw in my clever plan was that she wasn’t happy — she was paranoid that identity thieves (also in their nascent phase) would sign up for credit cards because they’d gotten the name of our dog off the Internet.  Probably one of the gifts I’ve been most excited in my life to give backfired dramatically, and the lesson stung for a while.

There’s one other thing that has kept me from mouthing off: a bright-eyed clerk at a federal court, tentatively named Sean Baden.  I’d say he’s bushy-tailed, except that I’ve never really understood what that means and suggesting that someone is squirrel-like (even if they prevail in the comparison) doesn’t sound like a compliment to me.  Sean is the main character in a legal thriller that’s been knocking around in my head for about eight years.  My partial first draft has migrated from jump drive to hard drive to email and back again for five years now, with a few people having read the cobbled bits and pieces, and judged it potentially the greatest novel ever written.  You’ll notice there were no quotation marks around that last part; probably the best thing they *have* told me was to finish the damned thing because they want to know what happens to everyone.

That book has kept me away from blogging because I couldn’t escape the thought that if I’m going to sit down and write, I should be advancing the cause of young master Baden and company.  The lack of a blog hasn’t seemed to lead to increased discipline on the novel front, though.  That’s been the case for so long that I can no longer draw a causative relationship between the two.  So I’m making a foray onto the web.  Perhaps regular writing will rekindle the discipline to finish my other efforts.

By way of explanation, dialectics is the study of logic, a philosophy for resolving differences between ideas.  Much like calling yourself a Libertarian, that leaves a fair amount of room for interpretation — and this club has been around for thousands of years, so people have written and thought a log of different things under the umbrella of the term.  Way back, Socrates engaged in dialectics, “cross-examining his interlocutor’s claims and premises in order to draw out a contradiction or inconsistency among them.”  Thank you for the concise phrase, Wikipedia, but I already knew this because I spent an entire summer drudging through The Republic.  Plato (repeating Socrates) is generally thought-provoking, but he jumps the shark for me when he advocates eugenics and the complete abolishment of private property.

Dialectics became an actual study in the Middle Ages when, along with rhetoric and grammar, it was part of the Trivium taught at universities.

Fichte really made the whole thing for me when he broke it down into what became popularized by Hegel.  In Hegelian dialectics (and I recognize that Hegel used different terms), you have the *thesis* and the *antithesis*, and dialectics is the resolution of those seemingly-opposite positions into a *synthesis*.  That synthesis becomes the new thesis and is opposed by a new antithesis, resolved again, and every examination of your original question brings you closer to “truth.”

The basic concept is one near and dear to my own heart: poking an idea with a stick until you’re satisfied that it stands up.  Marx appropriated the concept of dialectics to describe social progress, saying that each upheaval in society led to new social posture and compromises, positioning new groups for new evolution (and in his hope, moving toward the workers owning the means of production).  Dialectics have been around a long time in India and Tibet.  Although I haven’t read them yet and they involve a lot of words as to which I wouldn’t presume to hazard a pronunciation, my understanding is that movement in thought and the perfection of wisdom remains the crucial issue.  If Freud had got his hands on the concept, I’m sure it would have come across as the puberty of ideas.  But everything for him was about his penis and his mother.

Thus endeth the didactic part of our program, although I think it’s interesting and I’m the one for whom I’m writing.  The bottom line is, the examination of an idea is what I was taught to value.  People tell me to stop analyzing everything.  They act like it’s a bad habit, but I figure if I’m going to accept an idea, I want to test drive it and kick the tires before I buy.  Ironically, sometimes I fight hardest against the ideas I like because I want to make sure they stand up.  Make no mistake … I belonged in law school, even if I didn’t ultimately enjoy practicing law.

Gentle Reader, we will hope that some of my aspirations toward truth make it into the posts to follow.  More frequently, as I hit my stride, I’ll just throw things out that make me laugh or think.  That’s where the “pop” part comes in — whereas Socrates concerned himself with whether justice is part of or the result of the ordered soul, I’m more apt to crow about a new recipe, post videos that I think are witty, or rant about marketing (not its existence, but lack of effort/talent).  Comments are welcome.

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3 Responses to Manifesto

  1. Pingback: How Did You Get Here? | The Popdialectic

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