That’s how wars get started 30/40

March 28, 2007 at 6:48 am | Posted in Blogging, Bollywood, Friends, Teaching English, TEFL, Youtube | 10 Comments
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I’ve been a regular to the blogosphere since August 2006, and a regular blogger (one post per day, except when I am on vacation) for four months. This practice has fundamentally changed the boundaries of what I used to consider private and public. Things like using an IUD, for instance, I don’t think I would have wrote about on my first website, around 1998, over at tripod. (Btw, they used to call themselves “one of the leading personal publishing communities on the Web”, but have now hopped on the blog bus as well.) As I’ve probably written somewhere before, using a diary did never make much sense to me in the past – it just didn’t appeal to me to write something that isn’t addressed to someone. But who’s the address of blogging? Some individuals of course, both real life and blogosphere friends, although not immediately. Not in these same way as in writing (an email or letter) directly to them. The public? In a way. But with a difference. It’s as if blogging is also a way of getting reconciled with the world, with the things you’re doing, the problems you’re confronting. I suspect that this type of ‘public’ operates very much in a super-ego fashion – it would be worthwhile to examine this closer, but that’s actually not the topic I wanted to write about today.

Occasion for this intro is that I am going to use this blog today to write about a personal conflict I had with someone. This is definitely another step towards the blurring of the public and the private, or maybe even an attempt of making my concern heard by the super-ego that can accept or dismiss my request (following my half-baked theory above).

What is peculiar about this conflict is that, in our own minds, we both are right. It is an illustration of the great degree of subjectivity to which our perception of a situation is subjected. It explains why wars get started: both parties being trapped in their own little constructions of their world.


I’ve changed my mind meanwhile. I am not going to write about this on the blog, at least not in the detailed way that I wanted to. It might be better, if you think of the death threats that some female bloggers are receiving these days. I’ve wondered in the past how Lenina’s ‘BF’ might respond to her posts about him, or his friends, which are not always favourable, but maybe he doesn’t know the address. Anyhow, explicit communication about this might only make the situation worse, as the person might read this blog and get offended (not a blogger….).

Although it would be a story worthwhile sharing, featuring dissent arising from using diverging terminology from different disciplines, misunderstanding and mistrust originating from wrong assumptions about the workings of technology, a clash of gendered behaviour, and a mutual pushing the buttons of each other’s inferiority complexes (I don’t know exactly which buttons exactly I pushed, but I know which of mine were activated: Never say something to a TEFL person that would make it appear as though you thought TEFL folk weren’t proper academics. They already think they are not, and being a TEFL person alone gives most of them a sense of failure. Most of them have turned to teaching English because it was their last exit to a regular income. More about the inferior complexes of TEFL people to be found at the English droid’s page.)

A brief excerpt of the actualized gendered behaviour (also suggesting that the argument arose via email):

masculine: “You are wrong. That’s my view. And I don’t believe you. I am not going to respond to anything you write about this from now on.”
feminine: keeping up the the communication via email nonetheless, trying to substantiate that she was falsely accused, animating the other side to respond…

This example of masculine behaviour, btw, reminds me of the character of the patriarch played by Amitabh Bachchan in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (already mentioned a couple of times on this blog). The patriarch rejects his adoptive son for marrying the wrong woman and declares him a persona non grata. Talking about him is no longer condoned. Numerous attempts are made (mainly by women or characters with feminine connotations) to animate him to rekindle the communication about and with the son. But all attempts are brutishly silenced by the patriarch:

“I’ve said it. That’s it. Bas.

I think this post should end on a positive note nonetheless. There’s nothing better for that than a sequence from a Bollywood movie. I’ll pick one from the end of KKKG, when everybody is reunited in wedding and happiness, and the patriarch appeased.

God, I love this movie. I’m not normally a fan of Hritik Roshan, but I just love his little tongue in cheek dance in the first part of this scene.


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  1. my BF does know the address but I don’t think he reads it 😛

    In any case, he knows my views on some of his friends; however, since I don’t want to criticise them constantly in front of him (for they are really quite irritating), my blog gives me some kind of outlet to ‘deal with it’ and then put it behind me, without upsetting him.

    I have had problems in the past with some ‘misunderstanding’ or rather, someone I know in real life reading my blog and relating some information back that I didn’t want to be known to that particular person. I.e. I was writing negative comments about a group of people that also involved one of the people you met when you were here (remember the Muse gig? ya ken what I mean 😉 ).

    Only a few weeks ago I revisited this issue btw, here:

    I now am more careful with regard to people that I actually like, so as not to offend them. Also, I don’t use real names, apart from the occasional exception.

    At the end of the day, though, I don’t really care what people think of me 🙂 – those who know me know how to read me, no matter what I write 🙂

  2. I could imagine that people would also take being blogged about as being talked behind their back, although it is, in a way, the immediate opposite:-)

    The case above has stopped annoying me now, although it’s highly pathetic that this chappy really didn’t reply to my emails anymore, which – as replying to an email is also an acknowledgment of having read an email – also entails that he also refused to acknowledge my correction of his false accusations.

    But at the end of the day, I just put his behaviour down as being extremely childish. Like closing your eyes and pretending the world wasn’t there.

    So blogging about it would have been an opportunity to get that anger but also my need to correct the false idea ‘out of my system’ – but as confused as the guy responded, I don’t think it would made it any better if he read it here. So I’ll try to avoid such misunderstanding, in particular from non-bloggers.

    I sure remember the Muse gig.

    I think I need a massage now:-?

  3. Hi there. Yes, it has been a while, but I am back and I would like to return swinging for the fences. Comp people in general and TEFL, TESOL, or any kind of other -L people tend to be crazy. Yes, I said it.

    Let me specify this: I actually do not mind teaching composition classes. Whenever I have to teach comp again and am right there in the classroom I enjoy it. I truly believe the required comp sections are incredibly important classes in which students learn things that should be foundational to their university carreers: academic writing, making arguments, analyzing arguments and critical thinking. What sours the whole thing for me is the context of the comp class, i.e. the comp department. I have only taught in two different English departments, but why does it seem like the comp departments are always by far the craziest part of every English department? (also: why do comp instructors all deperately NEED to think of themselves as progressives [while ending up beig just a bunch of hopeless liberals without any truly radical insights], or NEED to do yoga? Is that a requirement for the position? I actually heard of a comp teacher getting kicked out of a hare krishna sect for being too much of a hippie.) Seriously, English departments are crazy enough as it is, but the comp portions really take the cake. I have talked to lots of people about this and they usually tell the same stories: comp people are crazy. Why the hell is that? Is it really all due to the inferiority complex?

    If anyone wants to discuss this privately, please send e-mails to:

    cheers 🙂

  4. P.S.: does it seem like it could be a universal truth that the subtitle for all comp classes that try to make some kind of connection between writing and the real world (“I simply must to talk about social issues”) could be:

    “can’t we all just get along?”

  5. BTW, just to make that clear: I am being facetious here.

    It is just interesting to me as a phenomenon that so many comp programs are trying to be incredibly PC and liberal (can’t we all just get along), while individual teachers tend to harbor a quite aggressive potential along the lines you describe above (when it comes to their profession). Does not seem to go together. Or: we might be right back in a situation of Judean People’s Front vs. the People’s Front of Judea.
    Not sure.
    Maybe that is indeed how wars get started. You always have to believe firmly that you are right and are fighting for the good in the world, for what you think is right–bombing for peace (yes, like that old cliche: “bombing for peace is like fucking for virginity”–but there is something to it when considering the supposedly paradoxical motivations in aggression of that sort that needs to include claims to “right” and “peace”).

  6. Although I am normally not very good at picking up irony, I managed to identify the impishness of your posts and quite enjoyed it:-)

    So you’re once more alive and kicking! I suppose there are going to be a couple of more descents and resurrections to witness:-)

    Comp classes, I am now beginning to get the picture. I’m also beginning to understand the link to Cabbage’s dabbling with yoga and the possible consequences…

    As you might remember vaguely: Such a thing as comp classes does not exist at German universities. If you don’t manage to learn to write the hard way, you’ll simply go under.

    I wouldn’t even know how to translate it and needed to fully understand it. Doesn’t immediately conjure up an image or rather character to go along with it, but it seems to have a lot in common with the perception of the social work lecturers over here.

    I cannot believe that you can even do a doctorate in composition studies – what do you do with that? Apart from becoming a speech writer, maybe? Uuuh – you are only teaching comp, but not doing a PhD in it, are you?

    Having been exposed to the German and Austrian university system, I don’t even believe that writing can be taught. Of course you can point people to the necessity of a good introduction and main part and conclusion (I did something like that right today, in my digital storytelling class), but some of them will forever be too dumb to get the point. Their conclusions will only look superficially like conclusions, by being garnished with markers such as “to conclude”. And the brighter ones should normally have a semantic intuition for the completeness of an argument.

  7. Btw, I had a go at a little PR review

  8. […] Brilliant! March 31, 2007 Posted by Nova in Gyan. trackback One of the most soul-rendering and sensible blogs I have read of late… Talks about How wars start… […]

  9. It could be this too….

    feminine: “You are wrong. That’s my view. And I don’t believe you. I am not going to respond to anything you write about this from now on.”
    masculine: keeping up the the communication via email nonetheless, trying to substantiate that she was falsely accused, animating the other side to respond…

    But doesn’t matter……

  10. Your’re right if you mean to say that a woman could say the above, and a man the line below.

    My argument wasn’t a physical one though: I would still want to describe the first argument as a masculine one (which of course can be taken up by female individuals) and the second one as feminine (which of course can also be actualized by a male individual)

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