A funny thing happened on my way to the guardian

The internet is a strange place, where strange things happen. Obviously, that’s not news, but there is something particularly nasty going on these days. It’s become a forum where judgement, taste and good manners go out of the window.

Yesterday, I became embroiled in an spat on Guardian’s Comment is Free, after I achieved the holy grail of posting first: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/apr/19/james-frey-final-testament-bible

Now, what ought to happen is that some gentle intellectual points get made, there is some gentle ribbing where appropriate and everyone logs off with a warm fuzzy feeling inside. Not this time.

A comment was made, which I questioned:

@*****

Goodness, how I crave an artist who is a well-spoken, meat-eating, highly educated, elitist, right-wing, gun-toting Catholic. A bit like Chesterton (PBUH) with a rifle.

What you describe is the antithesis of what an artist is.

[I replied thus]

@ *****

Really? Why can an artist not be all of those things?

Surely ‘artist’ status is conferred through the production of art, not the production of right-on lifestyle credentials …

Just a thought.

[he said]

@*****

Surely ‘artist’ status is conferred through the production of art, not the production of right-on lifestyle credentials …

Being an artist is more of a mindset. The production of ‘art’ is a mere byproduct of that art of ‘being’.

Just another thought.

[I said]

@ *****

An interesting thought.

It doesn’t answer the first question, however, unless one delves into the realms of ‘you’re only an artist if I say you are’.

I do wonder how one assesses the ‘artistic’ nature without art being produced.

I also wonder whether we aren’t getting dangerously ‘Romantic’.

What makes up the mindset, and is it possible to produce art without it?

Surely it cannot be as simple (and I am being purposely reductive here) as an estuary-intoned vegetarian uneducated philistinic left-wing pacifist atheist?

If so, er … well, it doesn’t bear thinking about!

Now, I don’t think that was particularly inflammatory. In fact, I think that it was what I suggested above, a gentle invitation to a nice debate, with maybe a wee bit of good-natured ribbing thrown in.

[he said]

@*****

Surely it cannot be as simple (and I am being purposely reductive here) as an estuary-intoned vegetarian uneducated philistinic left-wing pacifist atheist?

A process of Reductio ad absurdum does not make your argument. I would adduce from your your response that you are not an artist, nor will you ever be one.

Well pardon me! Ignoring the fact that that his observation misses the point completely, and fails to enter into the spirit of things, is it necessary to introduce what was plainly an attempt at personal abuse.

It continued. You can read it if you wish. Despite my best attempts at both good humour and to engage him in intellectual debate, he continued his tone.

I responded with less restraint, only to be accused thus:

“I hardly think there is much of a basis for debate as it seems to me that your intent is to score points and make snide comments – which frankly I would rather you keep to yourself.”

Interesting, I thought. Not least because if anyone was making snide comments …, but hey …

A few comments later (including some of what I considered to be good-natured banter), and this appears:

@*****

If you make your art in the morning, you can make time for lunch …

Precisely why you’ll never ‘get it’.

Glad you’re enjoying the show!

You really do sound like an insufferable prick.

Bless him. It went on, and on … it’s actually quite amusing. By the end he was practically inviting me to fight him.

There are several questions that this whole farce raises. One is tone of voice. The other is anonymity. ‘You have a profile, my friend’. That was the giveaway. ‘My friend’ is what drunk men in pubs say to someone before they throw a punch. And as for the stalking element … well, what can I say?

Ultimately, as one commentator observed, one had to feel sorry for the author who merely wanted some attention. Instead, this …

3 thoughts on “A funny thing happened on my way to the guardian

  1. That exchange is mild, even by Guardian standards, although YouTube is the true colosseum of comment: vicious and brutal.

    I do everything under my own name – I find it makes me behave like a human being rather than the spiteful, snivelling little shit that lives in all of us but we try to suppress. The only exceptions are my sub-editing blog and Twitter, because I sometimes use material from my own organisation and my customers know my name (but even there you can find out my name if you can be bothered).

    • Oh, indeed I have seen and read far, far worse … and a good point about YouTube and the Flavian Amphitheatre, though perhaps not the neatest analogy as I don’t recall reading that the combatants there were volunteers! But yes, yes indeed.
      My amazement was more that the loon really seemed intent on being as offensive as possible, without even trying to engage – fine if both parties have the same idea, but otherwise, a little odd.
      It is, of course, the anonymity which is the problem. Good on you for continuing to be you in whichever forum you find yourself.

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