Subject: Re: Understanding Erik Naggum
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 06 Oct 2002 14:36:26 +0000
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Pascal Costanza
| I am terribly sorry, but you have brought up the analogy, not me.

  Oh Christ.  Every analogy, by virtue of not being exactly the same thing,
  carries the potential that a person who manages to drop context or have
  none to begin with will go off on a tangent.  It is not my fault that you
  do this.  The point with analogy is to illustrate a point.  If you think
  you see another point and want to talk about that, instead, that is still
  your responsibility.

| Yes, I think you have diminished your efforts. I take it for granted that
| I can only talk about what I think and feel about things.

  Oh Christ.  Another one of those.  Listen carefully.  What you have been
  taught about only being able to talk about what you think and feel is
  /wrong/.  You can actually talk about something you have observed that
  other people can observe and validate themselves, too.  If you only want
  to talk about what you think and feel about things, it has no consequence
  whatsoever for others.  /Why/ should they listen to what /you/ think and
  feel?  The reason most people actually care what other people say is that
  they expect it to be about the same reality they live in.  If people only
  talk about what they think and feel, you actually have to care about them
  personally before you want to listen to them.  I want to care about what
  somebody says, /not/ about the person who says it.  However, I realize
  that a small fraction of people are so narrowly focused on people that
  they can only read what people they care about write.  I have a hard time
  figuring out how these people survive in an information society.  The
  very concept of caring about the author before you can listen seems so
  anti-intellectual and anti-intelligent.  Most of the time, good authors
  are not people you would like to deal with person-to-person.

  If you understand that you can actually talk about something that exists
  independently of yourself, then others can talk about those things, too,
  without your /personal/ think-and-feel nonsense and without having to
  care about /you/.  Your arguments should carry their own weight.

| In my previous message, I have just tried to give a (tentative) answer to
| some of your questions. (Quote: "Now tell me, where did this guy get the
| idea that I was full of poisonous bile?  What I had I /done/ to him?")

  You were speculating a lot, but now I see that it has no consequence for
  me, because it is only how you think and feel.  (Right?)

| You really want to be helpful and give good advice. I only think that you
| have an unusual arguing style, and this causes irritations.

  Well, this is how you feel.  Irrelevant.  People of a more intellectual
  bent will not feel that "unusual" leads to irritation.  They will /think/
  about the unusual and not just "feel" that it is irritating.  That is
  just how you react.  Other people do in fact react differently, and we
  have no indication that the person in question is just like you.  You
  really have to realize that you cannot both argue that everything you say
  is how you "think and feel" and then argue that it is universal that
  "unusual" leads to irritation.  It is just you, according to your own
  "only what I think and feel" position.  (Do you see how wrong that
  position is?)

* Erik Naggum
| You have a higher goal than programming in Common Lisp, however.  I think
| you should be aware of this and manage to see things in perspective.

* Pascal Costanza
| I don't understand this statement completely, and I would be (seriously)
| interested what you mean by that.

  You have shown me that you get distracted by "an unusual arguing style"
  an that you lose your focus on the argument and presentation when there
  is something you allow yourself to get irritated about.  That means that
  your highest value is not getting the most useful information out of what
  you read, but its conformance to some standard of your own that even
  causes irritation when you feel it is violated.

| I also think that politeness makes actual communication a lot easier, but
| I don't value it higher.  (I don't even understand what "value" means in
| this context.)  I also don't get why me being German should be relevant
| in this context.

  Then you should travel more.  Germans are fairly unique in their need for
  protocol, and it is actually something most Germans do not notice until
  they contemplate the irritation they feel when others do not behave just
  so and exactly according to their own standards.  However, many Germans
  fail completely to understand that they cause serious irritation among
  others because they are flat out uninterested in the differences and only
  blame other people for not adapting to their standards.  That you say you
  get irritated by the unusual is such a telling point, actually.

* Erik Naggum
| Oh, my goodness, a "swear word"!  Obviously, this is so important to you
| that you lose focus and get seriously distracted.

* Pascal Costanza
| No, it's not important to me.  Again, I have just tried to find an
| explanation for people's (or Jeremy's) reactions to your arguing style.

  But you only talk about how you think and feel.  Here you presume to
  think and feel on behalf of Jeremy, even to something that you do not
  find important to yourself.  What is this?  Telepathy?  Arrogance?  Pure
  speculation into the unknown?  If you have to /fabricate/ things that you
  do not even find important yourself, you are so far out on a limb that
  you really should stop before you fall.

| ?!? No, I don't think so. I imagine someone who has tried very hard to
| understand a very complicated topic. After quite a while he/she decides to
| give up because he/she seriously thinks it is too complicated. Then someone
| comes and tells this person that he/she "has decided not to deal with
| it". That would be an insult, because he/she _has_ decided to deal with it,
| but just failed. At least, it would be an incorrect assumption.

  Are you for real?  If he gives up because he thinks it is too complicated,
  he has ipso facto decided not to deal with it.

| I have tried to find an explanation what he could possibly have
| interpreted as personal attacks.

  But you engage in pure speculation about something that is not even
  important to yourself.  (And you only talk about how you think and feel.)

| As soon as he felt personally attacked he stopped arguing and started to
| complain. It might be his mistake that he just misunderstood you, but I
| thought you asked about the actual sources for misunderstandings.

  Yes, /actual/.  That is quite distinct from speculation.

| However, I think that acknowledging people's feelings makes communication
| a lot easier.

  Let me know when you think people acknowledge how I feel.  It is the
  age-old dilemma: "If I should always think of others before myself, who
  should the other people think of?".

| Acknowledgement of people's feelings is quite easy to accomplish, there
| are several simple techniques that are not hard to learn.

  Clearly, people think it is /wrong/ to acknowledge my feelings.  What do
  you think I could learn from that?

  My solution is higher standards of professionalism.  You leave your
  feelings out of public view so others do not have to acknowledge them.
  Imposing your feelings on others so they have to care about them is indecent.

| >   Why do you not fight those who attack /me/ so viciously and tell them
| >   to be nice ans positive towards /me/?
| Do you need this kind of support? ;)

  If you had principles worth shit, you would not even conceive of asking
  such a stupid question.  You /strongly/ imply selectivity in application
  with this response.  If you selectively apply your principles, they are
  not principles, only conveniences you choose when you have already
  selected whether to treat people well based on your emotional response.

| I am not selective.

  Please realize that you are.

| I didn't respond to negative statements of yours, but only to your
| statement that positive reinforcement does not work.

  Huh?  Which /statement/ would that be?

| Actually, I don't care personally if you continue to be "negative".

  This is what I find most fascinating about you touchy-feely people.  I am
  not negative.  I am simply not hugging and praising people.  People say I
  am "cold".  I do not feed people's need for affirmation and validation --
  I think they should keep such needs out of public view.  I have received
  high praise for my writing from professional authors and copyeditors and
  I actually consider the need to feel good about what you read to be quite
  pathological.  How do you deal with textbooks?  I notice that more and
  more newspapers are going into "feel-good reporting" in that they focus
  on making the reader comfortable.  They are amazingly uninformative as a
  result.  If you want to feel good about something you read, you cannot
  /also/ expect it to be informative and be able to teach you something.

  How you feel is your own responsibility.  Somebody can want to make you
  feel bad by trying to hurt you with their words, but even then, you have
  to decide to let this influence you.  If how you feel is only produced by
  other people, you have a /major/ psychological problem.

| For example, I have actually quit watching TV many years ago.  I don't
| think that's going nuts, but I rather see this as a very conscious and
| well-thought decision.  It has made me a calmer person.

  If you become a calmer person from ceasing to be exposed to TV, you have
  a /serious/ problem, and avoiding situations to make you feel better is
  the wrong choice.  I mean this quite seriously.

Erik Naggum, Oslo, Norway

Act from reason, and failure makes you rethink and study harder.
Act from faith, and failure makes you blame someone and push harder.