The National Question. (redux)

Paul Henry Rosenberg rad at
Wed Apr 7 10:18:51 PDT 1999

Maureen Therese Anderson wrote:

> Paul wrote:
> >In *The Argument Culture*, a rather ambitious mess published last year,
> >Deborah Tannen made somewhat inconsistent references to practices she
> >lumped together as ritual(ized) combat (or conflict). One point she
> >made that does seem relevant is that such conflict often has a very
> >important socially integrative function.
> Deborah Tannen. ...Oh yeah, she's the one who wrote that bestseller about
> language and gender, and a certain male predisposition to conversing in
> bombastic, smart-ass ways (ears burning yet, Paul?)

Not at all. I am vast. I contain multitudes. Some are smart-ass. Some are poetic. Some are still trying to elicit a nuanced response that will enhance my understanding. So I guess I need to restate my questions a little more carefully.

(1) I wasn't concerned with the generic warnings needed re "ritual combat". I was concerned about the degree to which it is even regarded as a useful technical term nowadays, or, relatedly, the degree to which it may have been subdivided in types, and what characterizes them.

(2) I wasn't for a moment suggesting that what's going on now can be talked about in terms of "integrative functions of ritual conflict." That would be patently absurd, for exactly the reasons you put forth. I was trying to get a footing for a more informed look at Max's suggestions about clans, etc.

(3) :

> >(3) What kind of relevance this might have to understanding paths not
> >taken which could be argued for by progressive activists (perhaps even
> >peace and human rights activists as well as Marxists, as in the good old
> >days of the Vietnam War).
> Not sure I follow this.

What I'm getting at is that we may all be missing quite a bit about the cultural context which allows alternatives we're simply unaware of. In Somalia, for example, we actively undermined the traditional conflict resolution structures, which were barely even mentioned, even in relatively progressive media.

I was asking for any help you might be able to provide in getting a background sense that could help us more generally in developing more realistic understandings of possible alternatives.

> >
> >(P.S. Re: Buffy. The point of that little scene wasn't Gile's
> >cuteness,
> speak for yourself

It wasn't the point, it's a given:

> >but Cordellia slapping him. Of course he's adorable. He's
> >Christopher Walken's non-evil twin. But can you slap him around like
> >that?
> not what I had in mind

Even after just 2 shows you should realize you'll never get anywhere with him if you wait for him to make the first move. Or the second. Or the third...

> ["What? I can't have layers?" -- Cordellia's most famous line
> >ever.] THAT is the question.)
> Oh oh. I missed that. What was "layers" about?

It was from another show. Cordellia said something deep which caught everyone off guard. That was her retort. In fact, she's been revealed as someone who's very insightful, very self-aware, and very, very lonely and despairing. My one disappointment this year is her virtual disappearance. I had thought they were setting her up for major character development. Instead she's regressed to her year one status as peripheral annoyance -- only moreso.

-- Paul Rosenberg Reason and Democracy rad at

"Let's put the information BACK into the information age!"

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