More Slamming Doors

From[Bill Williams 15 June 2004 11:50 PM CST]

[From Bill Powers (2004.06.15.1736 MDT)]

The game is over.

Til you get bored.

Bill Williams


> The comical aspect
> >s that by saying this, you only hope to get a rise out of me (and others),
> >so your objection itself is part of the comedy.
>Well, since you introduced the idea of recurrsion, why not?

Right, I get it.

> >The actual words you say
> >are selected for producing a hoped for effect
>But, of course.
>that amuses you and your
> >friends; it doesn't matter which words they are.
>Actually there is more to it than that. To be effective the words have to
>not only be meaninguful to some extent in a straighforward way, but it
>helps if the have secondary associations that are humourous. Like my
>"sophistology." So, it does matter, and it matters crucially, so that the
>words have to be carefully selected in order to create the right effect.
>And, it helps if there is an echo of laughter is reverberating in the air.

Hey, who am I to criticize what an individual finds amusing? I mustn't take

## It isn't that as you say, "I mustn't take offense." Rather it is that
it is a ### good idea to realize that if you take office it is because you
have choosen to ## take office. Not that taking offense isn't appropreate
in some circumstances.

> >Even better. Now you pretend to take a holier-than-thou attitude,

>Actually, I am actually taking a "holier-than-thou attitude." I think I
>have a right, and even an obligation to do so given your behavior.

Uh-uh, you're not going to get me again. Words, words, words. Amazing how
they lose their meaning when you realize that they're not being used for
communication in the normal way.

## I would agree that there is an amazing change. However, I would
disagree with ## part of what you say.

## You are coming close to getting it, but you aren't quite there yet. It
isn't #### that the words lose their meaning. The words still mean
something, but the #### meaning of the words changes.

What could easily be taken as an
outrageous example of hubris turns into just a string of marks on the screen.

## I would say that the "string of marks on the screen" is always a
"string of ##### marks on the screen." How we interpret these marks makes
all the difference.

> > which would ordinarily call for some sort of reaction from me.
>But, you are finally catching on.

And I am grateful for the lesson.

## Despite being a somewhat slow learner you are welcome.

> >But of course you
> >don't mean that there are really limits to what you are willing to
> >and reflect. You want me to say things about your self-respect, but in
> >you're not telling anyone what you really respect.
>Actually that wasn't what I had in mind. And, you are wrong about my not
>telling anyone what I really respect. At various times and places I'eve
>spoken quite directly to this issue to various people. You may recall my
>talking to you about the mentor I was fortunate to have at the university.
>And, I have indicated rather conspiciously my respect for Martin Taylor's
>irenic approach to controversy on the CSGnet. If that isn't "telling
>anyone what you really respect." I don't know what you could possibly have
>in mind.

It's really very funny once you catch on. At one time I really thought you
had some kind of reverence for "the mentor", but now I see you were acting
out an instructive metaphor about loyalty or something like that.

## Rember my warning about there being ditches on both sides of the road.
I think ## may have slipped into the ditch on the other side of the road.

Perhaps I
am suppose to see that maybe that I protest too much about respecting
people. It's good to be reminded.

## Now you seem to be catching on.

> > Everything you say is said to have an effect,
>But, of course. Why would anyone say anything except to have an effect?
>What would be the purpose of saying something if it didn't have an
>effect? That
>doesn't at all mean I can't say something for an effect and in addition say
>what I mean.

Now don't try to confuse me. Usually, people use words to communicate
meanings to other people, so they try to pick words that will get the
meanings across, or at least start that process. But when you announce that
there are some words you use just to arouse a character-revealing response
from others, and some that you use with no such intent, how is a poor
student to tell the difference, unless you give some sign such as ringing a
little silver bell? That's easier to do in church than on the internet. But
then we have the problem that if you do announce that the next sentence is
to be taken literally as conveying something you really believe and mean,
how can we tell that the announcement itself was not made for the purpose
of bringing forth some reaction that the listener, for his own good, should
heed? In other words, by saying that now you really mean what you're about
to say, you could very well be setting us up again.

## Could be. We could blame it all on my having hung out too much with
Bruce ##Gregory.

> > not because it reflects your own inner thoughts.
>But, you see that there is no contradiction between saying something to
>have an effect and expressing one's "inner thoughts." With some effort
>the two can sometimes be combined.

Sometimes, maybe. But how are we to tell _which_ times? That's a real
problem for the listener.

## Such is life.

> > I think we've caught on to your game, Bill.
>Have you? Lets see. I noticed some time ago that when you argue you slip
>in stuff like calling me garbage that has nothing to do with the argument.
>The only purpose it could possibly serve is to intimidate people that
>aren't used to this sort of "trash talking." There are other similiar
>traits in your communcation that come out. So, the an obvious thing to do
>is to mirror these traits, and see what happens. I guess we've seen what
>happens. You don't like it. But, all that has been happening is that you
>have been faced with a reflection, and didn't for the longest time
>recognize yourself. If that is you do now. And, in the mirroring process
>you let yourself get out of hand and say stuff that you were later ashamed
>of. Why do you suppose you were so in a sense self-vicimized by my
>mirroring you? Why did my game work so well in provoking you to
>outrage? If you actually understand what the game has been about, I would
>think that you might eventually might come to a different conclusion than
>you seem to reaching.

I see. So that in mirroring, you were not responsible

## I am not sure why you are introducing the notion of "responsiblity"
here. I get ## the idea that somebody is going to get a bill for cleaning
things up. Is this ### concept "responsible" coming up because you have
been thinking about RTP and ### wondering who is really responsible for that?

for what you said: I
was responsible for what you said. But now you REALLY have me confused.
Which part of that paragraph was the game, and which was not?

## There is of course a danger in building these halls of mirrors. Suppose
the ##### person who is being mirrored is perfectly happy to go on deeper
into the ##### hallway with all the mirrors?

Suppose I go
back over the posts, and pick out all the things that were said -- "
mirrorings" -- not because you meant them but because you thought I needed
to be taught a lesson. Am I then to conclude that you didn't mean them?
That the things you said about me and my work were carefully selected to
provoke outrage, and not because you wanted to convince my friends and
colleagues -- and me -- that they were true? This is important, because if
you really meant most of the things you said, you were trying to convince
the audience and me that I am incompetent, deluded, ignorant, arrogant, and
totally on the wrong track.

## But, to take that point of view requires you ignore the good stuff that
I said.

Perhaps you can understand how a person accused
of such things might try to put up a defense or a counterattack simply
because of the _content_ of the remarks, not just because of the way they
were delivered.

## Of, course.

But if you said those things just to provoke an angry or
defensive remark from me, then I think it might be considered fair for you
to announce to everyone that this was your purpose, so they will not go on
thinking those things about me.

## Well this is sort of like the great age of mutual destruction isn't it.
It was ## really "unfair" of the Russians to have all of the big bombs on
top of those #### big missiles wasn't it?

And, I could experience the relief of
knowing that perhaps I am not really all those ugly things you have said I am.

## What if some of them are true?

Unfortunately, even that will not work. Now nobody knows whether that would
be just another lesson, or whether you really meant it. I think the game
has taken on a life of its own.

## Yes, I think you could say that.

>The person doing the mirroring acts so as to reflect the message that is
>being recieved. Now, this is in a sense a projection of my inner most
>thoughts, that is my thought that it would be a good idea to mirror you.
>So, the mirrored communication that you got back was intended to be a
>reflection of what you were communicating.

## If we were entirely unreflective this might well get us in a bind.

As I recall that particular exchange, the occasion was my failure to
recognize that the "model" you described as "practice in writing
control-system simulations" was actually taken very seriously by you.

## Ah, were those lovely days!

when I suggested that we turn to modeling that had more to do with
economics, and not just producing pretty pictures (I think I used that
term, unfortunately), you exploded in my face.

## You have a problem with that.

Your idea of mirroring,
evidently, is to turn a tap on the shoulder into a sledgehammer over the

## Go find somebody else to push around if you don't like getting slapped
around ### when you start pushing.

Actually, it sounded less like a judicious process of enlightenment
of an errant colleague than it sounded like an infuriated 10-year-old
screaming "Anything you do to me I'll do back to you ten times worse!" But
of course you didn't have the practice at mirroring then that you have now.

## No, I have been learning as things went on.

I keep forgetting that what you said above was carefully constructed to
have an effect, and there I go again, falling for it. You're putting on the
guise of the wise parent whose duty and obligation it is to improve the
child's character by teaching him a lesson, a guise which if anyone were to
take it seriously (I did for a moment, there) would provoke howls of
derision and maybe outrage.

## Good then that the "Gotcha" only lasted for a moment.

But by your mirroring principle, you were
merely pointing out to me my own arrogant tendency to force other people to
face their own failings, as if I had some divine right to do that, and
furthermore, knew how they should behave instead.

## Actually you are retaining an element of arogancy in supposing that
what you do ## is always to force people to face their own failings.
Sometimes you don't know ## what the hell you are talking about, and
sometimes it appears to me that you ## lash out at other people-- not
just me, for no apparent reason.

I am beginning to appreciate the true subtlety of this game.

## We can call it a "game." But, it is sometimes played for real.

>If there has been "a game" being played recently on the CSGnet it is a
>game that you have been playing with youself. All that I did was to hold
>the mirror.
>When you understand this, then you will have arrived at an understanding
>that is worth having.
>And, if you ever do genunely understand this, then maybe you will thank me
>for teaching you a valuable lesson.

I do, I do. Although your mirror seems to have some magnifying properties
that make the lesson pretty painful sometimes.

## Painful indeed.

No, wait. You devil, you. "Thank me for teaching you a valuable lesson?"
Hoo, boy. OK, so I sometimes think I have the right to teach you lessons
you didn't ask for. Quite right. Sometimes I think I know something that
you really need to know, and take it on myself to explain it to you without
being asked. And maybe even expect you to be grateful for it. I can see
where that might become a tad annoying. I'll try to avoid doing that in the
future, if I can. I'm sure you'll let me know if I forget.

So, where does this leave us? How am I going to know when you are teaching
me a lesson, and when we're really talking about something? Anything you
say to reassure me that we're really having a discussion could easily be a
strategy to prepare me for another lesson, which I would like to avoid if
possible. It would seem that the safest route would be simply to discuss
computer code and models.

## Actually I don't think limiting the discussion to computer code and
models works ## much if any better than discussions about PCT.

You ask, in effect how can we back out of the hall of mirrors? How can you
trust that I won't resort to mirroring tactics in the future? I think my
previous post suggestion might answer this understandable aprehension. I
didn't build ECACS myself, I didn't have anything to do with its actual
creation, but I was in some sense an obvious part of what got going. We
have with some exceptions, and these exceptions were corrected maintained
a cordial atnosphere in which people have treated each other with respect
and consideration. This is in contrast to what has frequently been the
norm on the CSGnet. Now, as you have correctly indicated, there is an
ambiguity in mirroring, as to who is actually responsible for what is
going on. Nothing come free does it?

So, if you want an indication from me that your sincere communication will
in the future be met with a direct non-mirrored reply, my suggestion would
be move the discussion to the ECACS site.

Bill Williams