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whatever shall I do?

So, Maus has decided that I am no longer worthy to sully his journal with my superstitious words.

I am devastated, naturally, and shall begin plans for what kind of razor to use to cut my wrists. Really.

I am cast forth from his friends list and not permitted to post in reply to anything he says, or so I assume - I was blocked from replying to his latest attempted poison pen letter, where he chided me for using 'superstition' to deal with my ongoing grief over the death of my wife, although giving a straight answer to a simple question was just 'not worth bothering with.'

This was accompanied by a bitter little gem from his partner, who is apparently "glad that he won't ever have to deal with me again."

And thanks to the lock, there's no danger that I'll lessen their gratification over having the last word. There. Unless they read this, but frankly, if they do, go ahead and stay happy, guys. I wish you well.

So, it's actually a good thing. I spent a lot of time and energy in what I believed was a friendship with this guy. I even went so far as to suggest that Maus could, if he needed a place, stay with Penny and me while looking into music here in Oregon, but the circumstances never made it necessary.

The main disagreement has always been one of religion. Over time, I realized that his pathological hatred of the Catholic church spilled over into any religious belief. Because of this, and because it took too much emotional energy to deal with his rancor, even when the object of it was well worthy of scorn, I took him off my friends list, so that I could read without being surprised by a hateful outburst. I tried to say at the time that I wasn't cutting him off as a friend, but that the mechanism of Livejournal misnames the 'watch' function. I'm not sure he understood that.

And since he and his current fellow have been together, they've gotten deep into the cultish adoration of Ayn Rand and her so-called "objectivist" philosophy. As one of the tenets of that cult is the utter rejection of any kind of religious faith as 'superstition', it was inevitable that we would disagree, but I mistook him for someone who has the ability to disagree without rancor, and really that was my mistake.

So, what will I lose by this?

A friend? No, the friendship was one of convenience for him, and barely more than an internet acquaintance in reality. There's something about this medium that induces people to assume and practice a greater degree of intimacy with strangers than really would happen in a face-to-face meeting - but it's a mistake to think of that extended intimacy as friendship. Amiability, maybe. So I'm not losing a friend, but the illusion of one.

What will I learn by this?

Don't ignore the early warning signs.


( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 28th, 2006 12:53 am (UTC)
A significant change in religion or philosophy that functions as religion can be a real friend-killer, yeah. The zealotry of the newly converted, whether to Christianity or Objectivism or whatever, tends to alienate people. I've dropped people from my flist a couple times after their first "I have seen the Light" posts, knowing that keeping them on would just annoy me.
Jun. 28th, 2006 12:54 am (UTC)




Uh... So. Hi! No, I'm not giggling. No, really, I'm not. This is online - you can't claim that I am giggling, because you can't see me, or couldn't when I posted this, and... so...


Sorry. Oh, who am I kidding? Not in the least bit sorry. But painfully, terribly amused.

Jun. 28th, 2006 01:18 am (UTC)
I am surprised to find that I'm still listed on his friendslist ... I suspect, because it's necessary to do so in order to prevent posting.
Jun. 28th, 2006 02:18 am (UTC)
It's not necessary to have someone on your friend list to prevent posting by them. Just use the console's "ban_set " command.

And the radically drastic action of taking someone off of your friends list is not necessary. Creating a "Default View" group will present that to you when you're logged in. (Removing a friend from your friend list DOES stop them from seeing your friends-only posts, and posts locked to any friendsgroup that you already have them in.)
Jun. 28th, 2006 02:58 am (UTC)
I am not always logged in when I read LJ. Sometimes, this is even because I choose not to be.

Didn't know about 'ban_set' ... how long has that been there? Does it have a corresponding lock to prevent reading?

I didn't have any posts that were locked to Maus or to groups containing him. I almost never create friends-locked postings, though I do create group-locked posts. If there had been anything that would have been relevant or useful but private, I would have re-added him and put up with the annoyance, but after asking that he either put his long rants behind a cut (they're usually at least a screen and a half long, and I do not mean 'rant' in a disparaging way) or to put them behind a group filter, so that I could continue to enjoy his art and music posts, he created then abandoned a second free account where he could put them. Finally after a really nasty one, I just decided to stop trying, and just read his account when I had the energy to ignore or shrug off his anti-religious bigotry.
Jun. 28th, 2006 04:38 am (UTC)
There is no corresponding entry to prevent reading... because all one would have to do is log out, and they'd be able to see your entry again.

'ban_set' has been there since before I got an account on here, in 2001.
Jun. 28th, 2006 05:20 am (UTC)
Hm. I guess I never looked for that.
Jun. 28th, 2006 04:22 am (UTC)
Dude, good riddance. Anyone who can't see past his obsession far enough to see you as the human being (as opposed to you as the Ideology) deserves a boot to the head.

Jun. 28th, 2006 04:29 am (UTC)
Well said.
Jun. 28th, 2006 05:07 am (UTC)
In his defense, the RC church has done really horrible things in Ecuador, where he was born and raised, so he has a touch of the PTS about anything to do with churches in the modern day.

That's only an explanation of the start of it, not an excuse for the continuing of it.

And my dismissal of 'Objectivism' starts with a key point, 'enlightened selfishness', which in my opinion fails as a working model for human interactions.
Jun. 28th, 2006 05:38 am (UTC)

And the Roman Catholic church has done horrible things (unforgivable, even) in many, many places over the years. I don't know what they've been up to in Ecuador these past few decades, but I doubt it would surprise me. IMO, the Catholic hierarchy has always been a hypocritical bunch of powermongers, but that doesn't mean that Catholics are bad.

As for 'enlightened selfishness', is this different from 'enlightened self-interest', or is it just a different way of wording it? 'Cause enlightened self-interest seems to me to work just fine as a macro-level model of human intereactions, but that doesn't mean that individuals are thinking of themselves, consciously or otherwise, when they take 'altruistic' actions.
Jun. 28th, 2006 06:27 am (UTC)
Enlightened Selfishness is the key phrase in Ayn Rand's introduction to her philosophical method, which she called "Objectivism". It was primarily a reaction against Trotskyite Social Communism, which shows in some of the odd emphasis she took. Admittedly I haven't read it in (I'm old) 35 or so years, and certainly have forgotten some of the details. Basically she asserts that nobody truly acts out of altruism.

Enlightened Self-Interest is a sort of extraction of the useful idea that one can benefit oneself through altruistic actions. Of course, the definition of altruism as 'any act that benefits others rather than oneself' is broken in its own way.
Jun. 28th, 2006 07:01 am (UTC)
Hmm, having just done a scrap of research (IR, reading up on Ms Rand on wikipedia), and making allowances for potential bias, it would seem that she was a sadly tormented and emotionally scarred individual, and whose writings deserve to be mostly ignored by academia. She does seem to have an occasional good idea (or the heart of one), but then most often she seems to take off and end up with long and convoluted avoidance of the core idea.

At the heart of it, I would suggest that the greatest and most inherent flaw in her reasoning is that she projects her own personal experiences and beliefs onto the rest of the world, thereby placing limits on all that are, far from being universal, merely aspects and limitations of her own psyche.

And to bring this screeching back to a geek perspective, I'll put forward the allegation that Ayn Rand is a literary and philosphical equivalent to the High Evolutionary. (Perhaps, even an inspiration for the character or some of his actions, in part?)
Jun. 28th, 2006 10:32 am (UTC)
Hm. Probably not, but certainly would be amusing. She was at the peak of her popularity/notoriety when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were writing almost everything Marvel published, and I think the H.E. was created near the end of that time. Actually, I think that Dr. Manhattan in "Watchmen" is a much better incarnation of her ideal self, while Ozymandias is clearly inspired by some of her characters. His only deviation was that he ended up being killed, which was an ultimate failure.

Her personal problems would likely have been diagnosed as some sort of treatable thing nowadays, though I think that we go to excesses in finding reasons to drug people into mental submission.

And now you got me interested in what Wiki said...

Interestingly, that analysis is amusing in attributing the completely psycho ravings of his sister to Nietsche, whose work was severely contaminated by her while she had him basically imprisoned during his physical and mental breakdown.

The funniest thing about this is that in general, I agree with most of the things the Objectivists espouse, but for completely different reasons.

And I'm bemused by their use of 'enlightened self-interest' over 'enlightened selfishness' because in her book (which I believe was titled 'enlighted selfishness' or contained that in the title) she made an effort to differentiate between the two.
Jun. 28th, 2006 04:28 am (UTC)
Something that most of these rabid anti-religion types fail to grasp (in my experience) is that Atheism (whatever name it's calling itself) is as much a matter of faith as any particular religion is.

Now I'm really not a fan of the Catholic Church (or for that matter, even the idea of an organised church/priesthood), but this Maus fellow, it seems, has callously trampled all over your feelings by repeatedly disparaging your faith and how that is helping you deal with your loss. Obviously this little fool hasn't ever had to deal with the loss of a loved one. Assuming that he has anyone he truly loves other than himself, that is.

Which would rapidly have led me to the point of "Bye Maus, don't let the door hit your arse on the way out", probably long before he pulled this pitifully childish stunt. Which is all that last word attempt is, the last temper tantrum thrown by an overage toddler. Good riddance.

No-one needs 'friends' like this guy, least of all you Foomf.
Jun. 28th, 2006 05:16 am (UTC)
Actually, he HAS lost loved ones, within the last few years, which is why it annoys me that he responded the way he did. I'm going to put it down to 'unthinking and angry' and simply leave it.
Jun. 28th, 2006 05:53 am (UTC)
Which just makes his attacks on you even less forgivable in my books.

But from where I'm standing, I'd be much more likely to write him off as 'selfish, self-centered (self-obsessed, even) arsehole' and go find something better to do with my time and thoughts.

But then, I don't know the little details that can make all the difference in these situations.
Jun. 28th, 2006 12:06 pm (UTC)
Oh, GOD... Merryjest and GMORK? The Caruso of Colorado and his "I had sex with animals but it was just a social trick to attract trolls?"

Jun. 28th, 2006 12:07 pm (UTC)
Pardon me, not his social trick, Gmork's.
Jun. 28th, 2006 06:43 pm (UTC)
That would be the ones. Althoug "GMORK7" is now "AsherWolf".

I _really_ should have paid attention to the warning signs.
Jun. 28th, 2006 05:56 pm (UTC)
Virtually every organized church is guilty of some heinous act. That's what happens when humans are entrusted with God's work. But it does not diminish the Love of God. Unfortunately, some people come away so scarred and poisoned that they are blinded to it. While I am not unempathetic - I've certainly seen enough of what a church is capable of - it's rather immature of him to take out his anger on you.

Jun. 28th, 2006 07:02 pm (UTC)
He takes his anger out on anything connected to religion whatsoever, and has taken up 'Objectivism' as his replacement in terms of philosophical guide and source of meaning. That particular movement is notable for having about 95% of its membership among college students, who generally outgrow it or become disenchanted by the weakness in its underpinnings.

Then again, I did precipitate this by asking him to explain what he meant in one of his rants, and by stating clearly that I wasn't interested in hearing his partner's explanations, or even discussing it with him - Asher tends to get really abrasive and demanding in any conversation, expecting the person he's talking at, to do research (though he doesn't even provide the courtesy of a bibliography) to support HIS claims. Because obviously if you read what he's read, you'll automagically agree with him.

Normally I'd agree that it's immature to diffuse anger that way - but they go beyond immature and into bigotry. That's one of the warning signs I should have paid attention to. That's the sad and stupid thing about internet drama - people whom you've never met, can cause all sorts of disruption and angst. I've been seeing this kind of stuff since 1981, and it still follows the same patterns - someone gets the idea that because someone else writes in an engaging and open style, and because there's an unexplainable heightened intimacy in the medium of text posted to a public forum broadcast to thousands (or millions) of strangers, that somehow this person must fit the unconscious expectations of the reader. So when they prove to disagree, or worse, ridicule one's deeply held whatevers, the response isn't just socially acceptable discussion, nor even mannered retorts followed by excluding the person from one's circle, but instead, it turns into slanging and vitriol the likes of which we seldom see outside the political letters of the founding fathers and the campaign strategies of a Karl Rove. Miss Manners does not hold much sway over the internet, nor over its descendants in web log, message board, and journals.
Jun. 28th, 2006 08:53 pm (UTC)
There's plenty of offline social misfits out there. Vicers and gripers throwing tantrums and making mountains out of molehills existed before 1981, and if there is a difference, it is a matter of higher visibility. Though there is a certain amount of "the medium is the message."

Jun. 28th, 2006 10:16 pm (UTC)
The internet did make it much, much easier, and elicited the behavior from people who aren't like that in face-to-face encounters, so I suspect it to be somehow bringing out a social behaviour breakdown as a result of the implicit intimacy combined with the anonymity of the medium, combined with the very narrow communication bandwidth.
Jun. 28th, 2006 10:26 pm (UTC)
Good point. I suspect this is something where the rules will have to evolve over time.
Mar. 5th, 2007 07:11 pm (UTC)
Religion makes any Philosophy a Cult
Because you see worldviews as purely a choice of belief with no proof or substance, it is completely logical for you to see any philosophy as a cult. All worldviews in fact are cults to you, but your worldview is a religion.

Way to go bucko.

Also, I'm not getting 'further and further in', I was already there and I know more about Rand and objective reality than you will ever shake a stick at and I'm proud of it.
Mar. 5th, 2007 08:58 pm (UTC)
Re: Religion makes any Philosophy a Cult
You don't know what I see or don't see. You conjecture, but you're no more correct about my understanding of the way people handle belief and philosophy than you are about what my 'worldview' is. That's fine. I don't need to explain anything to you, since you will continue to interpret things based on your conjectures of me rather than on who I am; to phrase this in Hindu terms, you see only the Maya.

I categorized your Randian objectiveism as a religion because you appear (to me) to use it as such, and because your reaction to my suggestions that it had flaws and weaknesses were anything but objective and revealed a deep emotional attachment independent of dispassionate reason.
You exploded when I apologized for insulting your religion, which of course is because objectivism reviles religion as irrational, yet why would it cause the same outrage that you'd get from a fundamentalist when showing that their understanding of their own faith is broken?
Clearly (as far as I see) it fulfills for you some of the things that religious belief do for other people, and as a result, you react emotionally to certain 'doctrinal challenges'.

I still regret triggering a series of emotional outrages by the way I referred to your philosophy, but I'm not going to make any further effort to discuss it with you, based on the reactions it provokes in you. Also, I examined the philosophy at the age of 14 and found it seriously lacking; I appropriated those parts of it which I found valuable and discarded the rest.

Otherwise, I hope things are going well for you and Maus. Take care.
Mar. 5th, 2007 09:34 pm (UTC)
Re: Religion makes any Philosophy a Cult
I'm glad you're qualified enough to make large leaps of philosophical judgment at the age of fourteen. I'm sure because it has more pages and appeals to certain religious predilections, you understood everything about Kant at the age of fifteen? And Marx at sixteen, right? And Atlas Shrugged completely read and digested at seventeen, I'd only assume. I believe the apex is of course your entire thesis on The History of Western Philosophy at the age of eighteen, I remember reading it.

Your statement that you found something lacking at the age of fourteen is ridiculous. You should proud you UNDERSTAND something at it's most integral levels at the age of fourteen, not by what you think you already know about the whole entire world and reality. When I think about all the things I know now that I didn't know when I was fourteen, it simply makes your statement laughable.

All sarcasm aside, the outrage doesn't come because you challenged my attachment to reason and objectivity, it was because you challenged the idea that altruism is evil and rational selfishness (which is redundant) is good. You posted challenges about moral convictions, and you expected completely dispassionate replies. My replies content was dispassionate in the sense that I recognize that it is wrong to steal and murder, but it was definitely passionate in the sense of the urgency I wished to impart.

I apologize if you couldn't tell the two apart. It doesn't come as a surprise however, since any 'emotion' I might have invested at all into the concepts I hold are immediately thrust in my face as anti-thetical to reason, but they are not. They are simply the emotional value I attach to those concepts, but they are not the reason I believe in them. A religious fundamentalist is quite the opposite: it is precisely because of the feelings he has attached to certain concepts, whether they are founded in evidence or not, that they are thus reinforced and are thus defended.

I'd be interested to see my 'emotional reactions and outrages', but you have obviously already washed your hands of this ordeal, so I won't expect it.
Mar. 5th, 2007 10:47 pm (UTC)
Re: Religion makes any Philosophy a Cult
This is not a conversation, Asher.
I will not talk to you about any of this, because we will only disagree, and in ways that will become unpleasant for me, and possibly for you (though I really don't care about the latter, in this case, because you insist on pushing it.)
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )