Trying to play music off John's laptop...
Me: What the fuck is up with all this Le Tigre? You're not secretly some American Apparel hipster who never heard of X-Ray Specs are you?
John: Do you like to dance?
Me: No I do not.
J: I like to dance--I like Le Tigre. If you don't like to dance, there's no reason to listen to Le Tigre.
(I briefly imagine John dancing before an appreciative crowd of deluded-but-perhaps-attractive American Apparel hipster girls who honestly have not heard of Poly Styrene and X-Ray Specs. Or are afraid of Poly Styrene and X-Ray specs.)
What we just did there is we had a conversation about taste that ended.
It did not end in mystification, mutual suspicion, anger, or simply out of exhaustion. It ended with each party knowing just a little bit more than they did before.
We're really good at this--at having conversations that end--possibly because of the excruciating amount of time we spent in art school.
People who have never been to art school often have the quaint idea that you learn how to make paintings or photos or sculptures or (even, maybe) video installations there (while drunk and deciding whether to get a nipple ring).
Not at all: what happens is you try to figure out how to paint, sculpt, draw or dress like a chicken or whatever all alone in a little room with no help at all and then drag the results across the street for a never-ending 4-6 year master class in how to have a conversation about the drawing, painting, sculpture or chicken costume that actually ends (while drunk and deciding whether to get a nipple ring).
Now: this is a narrow and mostly useless skillset--but it is the only one we all have. So we are proud of it.
You may not be able to draw, weld, stitch, take a picture, or hold down a job, but if you went to art school and can't have a conversation with an ending, you didn't do it right.
(Which, admittedly, many graduates did not since they were drunk and busy thinking about nipple piercings. But I digress...)
The eternalness (and non-enlightenment-producing-ness) of eternal nerd-culture debates along the lines of Mac vs. PC, 4e vs. (whatever isn't 4e), alleged realism vs. alleged playability, Old School art vs. whatever the other thing is, Star Trek vs. Star Wars, Kirk vs. Picard, Hot chick art vs. Not Hot chick art, are largely a result of the kinds of people who have them lacking one specific and vital piece of information about how conversations that don't begin with "Hello, this is Tech Support, can you please give me your computer's serial number?" actually work.
"I would still be playing (some kind of game) if (some other kind of game) was not better. I am sure to keep the cry babies at bay I must put here the obligatory "better for me"."
--some actual guy on some actual forum
The basic problem isn't the "crybabies" thing. Even The Internet already knows that isn't helping anybody get smarter.
The real problem here...
(And this is a common problem. This isn't just something trolls and 12 -year -olds do, it's something grown-ups do and then act all surprised when the predictable happens. It's as naive as going "What? This email isn't from an actual Nigerian prince?".
Common forms include when people seriously say:
"Gee, it's just my opinion! I'm allowed to have an opinion aren't I?"
--This one's from people trying to be all conciliatory--"Well I just add 'to me' onto the end of everything I see on the internet, saves a lot of trouble"
"I do it this way and if you don't you're a moron"
"I like this and if you don't you're having less fun than you could"
"I hate this and if you don't you're just a sheep"
"I used to like that thing, then I grew up", etc.)
...is that whoever wrote that--and all these other things--doesn't understand that it's not just that "Everyone is entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts", they also don't understand that this:
I would still be playing (some kind of game) if (some other kind of game) was not better, and
I would still be playing (some kind of game) if (some other kind of game) was not better, for me
...are parts of two different, unconnected conversations. As different as: "It's raining here in Charleston" and "Please fetch me the blowtorch, Melissa".
"...to me" is not about courtesy. At all. Or even about nit-picky logic or grammar or what-all.
Assuming--and this is an assumption whose naivete and generosity I am aware of--you're typing for some other reason than to see words appear on the glowwy screen after you hit the wordycubes, these two statements have totally different purposes.
When talking only to people who already agree with you:
A statement-as-fact and a statement-as-opinion come across as virtually identical, but the only point in saying them is to go ahead and say and do other things based on the idea that that's true.
I like bards
...is pretty much the same if you already agree with the bard lover. But the only point in saying it would be to move on to some other thing, like: let's make a bard class for Encounter Critical!
It gets more interesting when people don't agree with you.
From the point of view of someone who does not already agree with you:
Announcing you believe a fact to be true is a way of starting a conversation about that thing.
Announcing your personal taste is a way of ending a conversation about that thing.
To people who don't agree with you:
When I go "I hate bards" (statement of personal preference) I am saying "If you like bards, keep them away from me, there's no point in trying to argue me out of it--it's fucking taste"
When I go "Bards suck" (statement of alleged objective fact) or even "I hate bards because...(and then give reasons based on alleged objective facts)" I am saying, in effect, "Tell me all the reasons you don't think bards suck."
Even if the post is kind of a joke to begin with.
If I go"Bards suck" and you say anything at all about why you like them. And I then go "Jesus, you guys, don't get your panties in a wad, it's just my opinion, they're like assholes, everyone should have one" that'd be like me turning on the tap and talking smack on the water when it comes out.
I mostly wrote this so I could link back to it whenever it comes up. Maybe it will help us get smarter faster.
A Review of Seeing Like a State by James C Scott
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