Complaint about moderation in Kurt Cobain thread November 25, 2006 7:26 AM   Subscribe

overzealous moderation (more inside)
posted by pyramid termite to Etiquette/Policy at 7:26 AM (202 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

my answer - "it's better to burn out than fade away" ... *rolls eyes*

someone must have thought that was snarky

there's one problem though ... it happens to be a factual, and correct answer ... it's an actual quote from the suicide note

moderation through overzealousness is bad enough ... moderation through ignorance of the facts is another
posted by pyramid termite at 7:29 AM on November 25, 2006


Your whole comment was this:
"it's better to burn out than fade away" ... *rolls eyes*
...and you're surprised it got deleted? Did you link to the suicide note, which might have added some context? You do know that Kurt Cobain wasn't the only one in the history of the world to use that phrase, right?
posted by MarkAnd at 7:38 AM on November 25, 2006


There are moderates reading that and they haven't deleted the whole question?
posted by cillit bang at 7:40 AM on November 25, 2006


Did you link to the suicide note

i thought enough people were familiar with the phrase that i wouldn't have to ... and when you get right down to it, i doubt there's really a better explanation than that

in fact, i was surprised that no one had quoted it
posted by pyramid termite at 7:51 AM on November 25, 2006


"it's better to burn out than fade away"

Couldn't have put this call-out or, more specifically the question, better. See also cillit bang.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 7:53 AM on November 25, 2006


wow
posted by PugAchev at 7:58 AM on November 25, 2006


underzealous interest
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 7:59 AM on November 25, 2006


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Cobain

why was this question even allowed to stay in the first place?
posted by naxosaxur at 8:00 AM on November 25, 2006


There are moderates reading that

No, just crazy liberals WHO WANT TO TAKE AWAY YOUR BIBLES.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 8:06 AM on November 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'm upset they deleted "Because he was married to her [link to something about Courtney Love]." I don't know whether it was on topic, but it was definitely funny.
posted by Clay201 at 8:07 AM on November 25, 2006


i thought enough people were familiar with the phrase that i wouldn't have to

So you were playing to an audience and not answering the question posed by four panels.

I think the question should have been phrased better if Kurt just meant as a rhetorical add-on to the question title "why does fame kill?" Otherwise, yeah...I would not argue against deletion.
posted by peacay at 8:07 AM on November 25, 2006


this callout is garbage, but what the fuck. there is one answer to that question that might POSSIBLY make the thread worthy of keeping, and that's a direct link to the suicide note or at least that courtney-love-cash-cow book of his journals or whatever. Barring that, every other answer is speculation, opinion or plain old horse shit.

So is this question really being left up in the hopes that someone will link to some of the most easily googled information available? Why bother deleting even the worst answers from this thread if you're not going to delete all of them? The whole thing is crap.
posted by shmegegge at 8:11 AM on November 25, 2006


cobain overzealously moderated himself.
posted by quonsar at 8:23 AM on November 25, 2006 [7 favorites]


i blame neil young.
posted by quonsar at 8:25 AM on November 25, 2006


pyramid termite: Well, given that it's a pop reference in a mess of incoherent self-serving bullshit, it doesn't really answer the question as given.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:51 AM on November 25, 2006


You're really complaining about the deletion of a snarky 10-word comment responding to a stupid AskMe question? *rolls eyes*
posted by brain_drain at 8:56 AM on November 25, 2006


Well, given that it's a pop reference in a mess of incoherent self-serving bullshit, it doesn't really answer the question as given.

it's the only answer he gave ... it's the only answer we have ... the rest of it's speculation
posted by pyramid termite at 9:02 AM on November 25, 2006


Man, you must be really really bored this weekend pyramid...
posted by tkolar at 9:06 AM on November 25, 2006


You were deleted for failure to find the shift key. Take it to heart.
posted by LarryC at 9:17 AM on November 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


pyramid termite: it's the only answer he gave ... it's the only answer we have ... the rest of it's speculation

Well, actually he gives multiple answers over the course of his rambling exercise in rationalization. My minimal respect for him goes down a notch every time I have to wade through it. Picking out the least original of all the stupid cliches he invokes doesn't do it justice. And it doesn't answer the question as to why someone would write such bullshit to begin with.

It doesn't require much speculation to see through that stinking pile, just half a wit and some bitter experience.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:18 AM on November 25, 2006


Bad deletion although you can see how it happened. Is there such a thing as "my mistake, your comment has been restored?" Or are they permanently wiped?
posted by scarabic at 9:23 AM on November 25, 2006


The question should be deleted, and anybody who participated in that thread should be banned.
posted by nowonmai at 9:38 AM on November 25, 2006


Deleted?

(I see I misspelled his last name. Please burn me at the stake.)
posted by davy at 9:40 AM on November 25, 2006


*commits suicide*
posted by jonmc at 9:44 AM on November 25, 2006 [2 favorites]


The question should probably have been deleted, since the subject is hypothetical and the answers are chatfilterish; the only one who knows the real answer is long dead.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:52 AM on November 25, 2006


O, jonmc!

.
posted by cgc373 at 9:55 AM on November 25, 2006


jonmc killed himself because admitting to the MeFi community that he was, deep down, a racist was just too much for him. Especially when all those other people refused to join him.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:56 AM on November 25, 2006


I would just like to go on the record as saying, "it's better to fade away than to burn out."
posted by Bookhouse at 9:57 AM on November 25, 2006 [2 favorites]


Is this the story of Johnny Rotten?
posted by item at 10:01 AM on November 25, 2006


There's more to the picture than meets the eye.
posted by jack_mo at 10:09 AM on November 25, 2006


All you young rockers burning out are destroying the ozone. Please consider fading away. Mother Earth will thank you for your tepid rocking.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:20 AM on November 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


I miss jonmc. We always hoped he was ok. We were wrong.
posted by The Deej at 10:24 AM on November 25, 2006


moderation through overzealousness is bad enough ... moderation through ignorance of the facts is another

Next time, just cut out the snark, link the factual "evidence" and note in your post that it's from the "evidence". It's really that easy.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:40 AM on November 25, 2006


I blame quonsar.
posted by loquacious at 10:44 AM on November 25, 2006


I miss jonmc. We always hoped he was ok. We were wrong.

In retrospect, though, he was always so angry and negative, closed to new things like music that was made after 1974—all the signs were there. Why didn't we do something?
posted by interrobang at 10:50 AM on November 25, 2006


Why didn't we do something?

I know. The warning signs were all there. He even gave me all his black friends.
posted by cortex at 11:03 AM on November 25, 2006


I got his collection of gay bosses.
posted by interrobang at 11:04 AM on November 25, 2006


Really, it's a crap question that should be deleted. It's purely chatfilter and an unanswerable question (unless you can communicate with the dead). You'd get just as good answers from asking on fark, which is really saying something about this question.
posted by Kickstart70 at 11:06 AM on November 25, 2006


I don't think it's chatfilter, per se. We've had legit questions asking for help interpreting history before. But really, this is exactly what Wikipedia is for.
posted by desuetude at 11:10 AM on November 25, 2006


an unanswerable question (unless you can communicate with the dead). Butterball is on the case!
posted by nowonmai at 11:15 AM on November 25, 2006


I thought it was a weak but passable question. There are a whole lot of people who have committed some time to answering it and those sources could have been linked to to help the OP answer the question.

pyramid termite, we're not mind readers, me or the other people who flagged your comment. If you want to link to something that will help make your comment understood as a serious non-snark answer, that would be helpful in the future. Specifically answers that include asides like *rolls eyes*, /jk, </snark>, [sorry couldn't help myself] and other indicators that the answer isn't really serious have a tendency to attract the attention of both me and other people who often flag non-answers.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:29 AM on November 25, 2006


pyramid termite, we're not mind readers,

Speak for yourself. Now that I'm dead, I can read minds like a newspaper. The perks of the afterlife rule. Som of y'all are some sick fuckers, by the way...
posted by jonmc at 11:31 AM on November 25, 2006


All you young rockers burning out are destroying the ozone. Please consider fading away. Mother Earth will thank you for your tepid rocking.

"Is everybody ready to soft-rock?" - C. Mangione
posted by quonsar at 11:33 AM on November 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


Did you link to the suicide note?

>i thought enough people were familiar with the phrase...


Like the Asker?
What peacay said.
Go for the checkmark instead of trying to pad your favorited comments, sheesh.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:34 AM on November 25, 2006


"Is everybody ready to soft-rock?" - C. Mangione

Indeed. Kiss are debuting their new hit "Rock And Roll Until A Reasonable Hour (and Party on Appropriate Weekends)" to be followed by Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It (Unless You Ask Nicely)."
posted by jonmc at 11:36 AM on November 25, 2006


Pff. Like Kiss ever rocked to begin with.
posted by interrobang at 12:27 PM on November 25, 2006


I flagged the post before there were more than a couple of answers. Details of Cobains death are readily available. All the post seems to me is an invitation to speculation and chat. I'm surprised it's still up.
posted by Neiltupper at 12:27 PM on November 25, 2006


Pff. Like Kiss ever rocked to begin with.

*holds icepick directly under interrobang's eyesocket*

it's for your own good, son...
posted by jonmc at 12:41 PM on November 25, 2006


My favorite dead rock star can beat up your favorite dead rock star, whom Jesus hates.
posted by ardgedee at 12:56 PM on November 25, 2006


He's dancing because he just got done doing a lot more than kissing mommy.
posted by champthom at 1:00 PM on November 25, 2006


Do you mean Kurt Cobain? Or Santa?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 1:08 PM on November 25, 2006


Kurt Cobain isn't Santa? NO SPOILERS
posted by Kwine at 1:27 PM on November 25, 2006


Kurt Cobain is Santa.
posted by maxwelton at 1:30 PM on November 25, 2006


What were Santa's last words?

Ho-Ho-Hole's gonna be big.
posted by FelliniBlank at 1:35 PM on November 25, 2006


Santa killed himself because he had become a corporate ho-ho-ho...
posted by jonmc at 1:36 PM on November 25, 2006


I... saw Mommy kissing Kurt Cobain
So I shot him and made it look like suicide
I snuck in while my Momma
Took him to Nirvana
He was too fucked up to smell me
Now his spirit is a gonner...
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:46 PM on November 25, 2006


Thread should have been deleted.
posted by The God Complex at 2:10 PM on November 25, 2006


to be followed by Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It (Unless You Ask Nicely).

Maybe this is old news, but I just learned about this today.
posted by Cyrano at 2:41 PM on November 25, 2006


Oh Holy Night
posted by hortense at 2:54 PM on November 25, 2006


pyramid termite, we're not mind readers,

back when people gave each other the benefit of a doubt, you wouldn't have needed to be

but it's obvious that at any moment someone is about to subvert this site by saying the wrong thing and totally breaking it ... they might be obviously helpful 99% of the time but if it's not clear they are the other 1%, then obviously they're trying to cause trouble

this isn't the first time you've been accused of overmoderating and it won't be the last

you don't trust people enough, period ... and the paranoia is showing ...
posted by pyramid termite at 3:10 PM on November 25, 2006 [2 favorites]


you don't trust people enough, period ...

I think you mean "you don't trust people enough, ellipsis."
posted by monju_bosatsu at 3:23 PM on November 25, 2006 [8 favorites]



Metafilter: this isn't the first time you've been accused of overmoderating and it won't be the last
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 3:27 PM on November 25, 2006


Give it a rest pyramid. It was a shitty answer to an equally shitty question.
posted by Razzle Bathbone at 3:34 PM on November 25, 2006


this isn't the first time you've been accused of overmoderating and it won't be the last

Was that a threat?
posted by JekPorkins at 3:40 PM on November 25, 2006


I haven't felt the excitement of reading snarky comments, along with really writing something snarky for too many years now. I feel guilty beyond words about these things, for example when I'm typing http://metatalk.metafilter.com in my browser. It doesn't affect me in the way which it did for Freddy Mercury, who seemed to love and relish the love and admiration from the crowd, which is something I totally admire and envy.
posted by drjimmy11 at 3:50 PM on November 25, 2006


375 points for the ellipsis, though.

The only way that could have been more forebodingly sinister is if it had been followed up with a "dun Dun DUNNNN!!!"
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 4:08 PM on November 25, 2006


My God, I'm so embarassed: I posted a comment in the entirely wrong thread.

But at least it went over well.
posted by champthom at 4:25 PM on November 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


Precious snowflake alert. In that thread I linked to a search for Pete Townshend and his current sex offender status. It seems to have been deleted. I thought it was relevant, given that he notoriously ripped Cobain's journals a few years ago, and that he has blamed vague memories of "childhood abuse" for his lifelong fascination with the abuse of children. It's notable that Townshend explicity links the Nevermind swimming baby cover with the abuse of children.

Anyway, Love's explanation for Cobain's lifelong addiction to opiates was his childhood dosing on Ritalin, described I guess as a kind of pharmacological child abuse. I find it interesting that people involved in a business built on the extension of adolescent pursuits into middle age and beyond seem to be so eager to attribute developmental explanations to their adult behaviours.

What I have noticed is that moderation here occasionally seems to resemble the most banal kind of Wikithink, where scandalous opinions or difficult-to-parse notions that cannot be easily slotted within a simple dichotomy often get flagged and deleted. It's a reductionist popularity contest of basic memes, enforcing consent through blackballing.
posted by meehawl at 4:29 PM on November 25, 2006


Eat shit, meehawl, Townshend rules ok
posted by interrobang at 4:32 PM on November 25, 2006


you don't trust people enough, period ... and the paranoia is showing ...

::dies laughing::

you're not smart enough to realize sometimes your comments are stupid, period ... and the idiocy is showing ...
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:32 PM on November 25, 2006 [2 favorites]


The question is not whether the answerer had the intent of helping, but whether the answer actually does help answer the question. It seems clear that this answer does not. Hence the "benefit of the doubt" does not enter into it.
posted by grouse at 4:35 PM on November 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


Anyway, Love's explanation for Cobain's lifelong addiction to opiates was his childhood dosing on Ritalin

Beats Cobain's explanation that he had tummy ache.
posted by jack_mo at 4:38 PM on November 25, 2006


Hey, thanks, meehawl, that was a pretty good essay you linked to.
posted by interrobang at 4:41 PM on November 25, 2006


Sometimes I try to do things and it just doesn't work out the way I wanted to. I get real frustrated and I try hard to do it and I take my time and it doesn't work out the way I wanted to.
*winks knowingly*
posted by Meatbomb at 4:45 PM on November 25, 2006


I like this kinder, gentler, *winkier* Meatbomb!
posted by cgc373 at 4:49 PM on November 25, 2006


pyramid termite writes...
this isn't the first time you've been accused of overmoderating and it won't be the last

You seem to think this somehow bolsters your argument, instead of making it more pathetic.
posted by tkolar at 4:51 PM on November 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


*commits suicide*
::dies laughing::

matt, jessamyn, close this thread. It's taking too many lives.
posted by jonmc at 5:06 PM on November 25, 2006


"I think you mean 'you don't trust people enough, ellipsis.'"

That? Was funny...
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:18 PM on November 25, 2006


*overhears jonmc's ghost lamenting losses of life in this thread*

*dies*
posted by cgc373 at 5:31 PM on November 25, 2006


ach, the slaughter never ends...
posted by jonmc at 5:40 PM on November 25, 2006


Why the hell should people give you the benefit of the doubt? When your poor answer gets deleted you throw a hissy fit, complain of the moderation, and generally make an ass out of yourself.
deep breaths
posted by edgeways at 5:41 PM on November 25, 2006


this isn't the first time you've been accused of overmoderating and it won't be the last

*shrieks in horror at unbearable asininity, leaps off cliff*
posted by languagehat at 5:54 PM on November 25, 2006


MetaFilter: obviously they're trying to cause trouble...
posted by Duncan at 6:06 PM on November 25, 2006


It's a reductionist popularity contest of basic memes, enforcing consent through blackballing.
posted by meehawl


Which is not nearly as effective as enforcing consent through blueballing.
posted by leftcoastbob at 6:10 PM on November 25, 2006


given that he notoriously ripped Cobain's journals

And Cobain notoriously ripped the guitar-smashing schtick from Townshend. And all grunge music notoriously ripped Black Sabbath, except without the good songs and playing.

Pete Townshend does not have "status as a sex offender." He was given a "caution" after an attempted witch-hunt failed to prove he did anything wrong. I find some of his obsession with child abuse a bit assinine and unhelpful, but he is very very clearly not a pervert or interested in watching child porn himself. The English press attempted and failed to railroad him in their typical, disgusting fashion.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:13 PM on November 25, 2006


pyramid termite writes "they might be obviously helpful 99% of the time but if it's not clear they are the other 1%, then obviously they're trying to cause trouble"

AskMe is about being helpful. If your answer is correct but unhelpful (for example, by being phrased in such a way that only someone who already knew the answer would be able to understand it, and hence not need the answer), then it's useless. Deletions on AskMe are not exclusively based on "trying to cause trouble"; useless stuff is deleted all the time.

Next time, make sure that, not only is your answer correct, but it's phrased such that someone who doesn't know the answer will be able to understand it.

Or, you know, I could just start answering AskMe questions in Japanese, because, hey, as long as the answers are correct, Jess & Matt should just give me the benefit of the doubt when I say "ピラミドターマイトの頭蓋骨はウンコでいっぱい", because, hey, it probably answers the question.
posted by Bugbread at 6:21 PM on November 25, 2006 [4 favorites]


生意気な bugbread!

(Please don't answer everything in Japanese, Alvy Ampersand will bug me to translate it.)
posted by gomichild at 7:12 PM on November 25, 2006 [1 favorite]


but he is very very clearly not a pervert

yeah, he just wants to bite and kiss those rough boys.
posted by quonsar at 7:26 PM on November 25, 2006


this isn't the first time you've been accused of overmoderating and it won't be the last

"You've won this time Captain Jessamyn, but you haven't seen the last of me!"

Don't worry pyramid, I'm making you up a sweet evil cape & helmet combo, you'll look the part.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 7:44 PM on November 25, 2006 [2 favorites]


why was this question even allowed to stay in the first place?

Why did anyone bother adding anything after the first answer?

But lemme guess, those displeased with some of the answers are probably within 5 years of Mr Cobain's age. Those not, not.
posted by scheptech at 7:49 PM on November 25, 2006


And Cobain notoriously ripped the guitar-smashing schtick from Townshend. And all grunge music notoriously ripped Black Sabbath, except without the good songs and playing.

drjimmy, we've had numerous conversations about music at other locales and that is such an oversimplification as to be laughable, and you know it.
posted by jonmc at 7:49 PM on November 25, 2006


Huh?
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:05 PM on November 25, 2006


Fucking stupid AskMe question, fucking useless and stupid answer from pyramid termite, fatherfucking ridiculous self-absorbed lame and unforgiveably stupid Metatalk thread.

Can we pretend this never happened?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:16 PM on November 25, 2006


Sure.

*from beyond the grave, pretends this never happened*
posted by cgc373 at 9:08 PM on November 25, 2006


Wait, hold on, no.

*resurrects self, then pretends this never happened!*
posted by cgc373 at 9:10 PM on November 25, 2006


Is jonmc going to continue to post while dead? Because he and #1 are the only regulars with user numbers lower than mine. (That's right, I'm 86 less than jessamyn and 780 before quonsar) and I've been waiting for him to get out of the way for years...

He really should get a new ID as "jonmc's ghost". I'll pay the $5 for him, if the afterlife doesn't have PayPal. (And if it doesn't, I'll be tempted to join him...)
posted by wendell at 9:16 PM on November 25, 2006


He really should get a new ID as "jonmc's ghost".

Hmmm... well, the whole "Ghost of Ken Lay" thing got old after a while, and something tells me a "jonmc's ghost" would get old even faster.

Come to think of it, it's already gotten old.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:28 PM on November 25, 2006


Can anyone hear me? Is this mike on?
posted by lalochezia at 10:35 PM on November 25, 2006


No.
posted by wendell at 10:59 PM on November 25, 2006


What a stupid thread, stupid callout. The original thread should go away and pyramid, you should probably go outside and do something else for a little while.

And now, I've got to go and get stinkin' ass drunk to lament the departure of brother jonmc. I hope you fuckers are happy now that he's gone. Well? Are ya?
posted by fenriq at 11:15 PM on November 25, 2006


I'm naming my new synthpop band Overzealous Modulation.
posted by cortex at 11:18 PM on November 25, 2006


Why did jonmc kill himself?
posted by YoBananaBoy at 11:39 PM on November 25, 2006


"But lemme guess, those displeased with some of the answers are probably within 5 years of Mr Cobain's age. Those not, not."

I don't have a problem with the answers, but if you're implying that only people about the same age as Cobain are fans, then I'm an old fart who proves you wrong. I didn't cry or anything when he killed himself, but I think I cared and felt a loss at his death more than any other entertainer, excepting maybe Johnny Cash. And for similar reasons: I think their artistic voices were both deeply authentic and because of that I value their work quite a bit.

Granted, in context Cash's voice wasn't only authentic but relatively original while, frankly, I don't think Cobain's was. What Cobain had to say, many many many artists have had to say. So much so it's trite. It takes a real talent to say it yet again in any compelling fashion. But I think he managed doing so quite well. Others don't see that degree of success and so they find his cry of alienation, anger, and despair banal, and rightly so assuming their judgment is right. Which I don't. But I can see why they think they do.

But a shitload of other people, across several generations, think otherwise. It's not just faddish. It's been a damn long time since Nevermind. I think that album's record of standing the test of time is the best evidence for my side's case there is.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:47 PM on November 25, 2006


What Cobain had to say, many many many artists have had to say.

I thought Nirvana was a damn good band, too, and I'm more than a few years older than all of those grunge youngsters. But I'm curious, ethereal bligh, what, exactly, in your opinion, did Cobain have to say? I guess I never really got what ol' Kurt had to say, or more precisely, can't discern what that might've been. There is "oh well, whatever, nevermind", which I suppose articulated a certain "I can't be bothered with articulation" view of life. Beyond that, though, what did Kurt actually have to say? Just curious.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:48 AM on November 26, 2006


Pete Townshend does not have "status as a sex offender." He was given a "caution" after an attempted witch-hunt failed to prove he did anything wrong.

In order to get a "caution" you have to admit that you committed the offence. Wikipedia claims that he is also on the sex offenders' register which would be a consequence of admitting to viewing child porn.
posted by grouse at 1:17 AM on November 26, 2006


Is there any pie left?
posted by loquacious at 1:28 AM on November 26, 2006


"But I'm curious, ethereal bligh, what, exactly, in your opinion, did Cobain have to say?"

As I mentioned, mostly more of the same ole alienation, anger, and despair that fuels so many artists. So what he had to say is not in itself that important or remarkable, at least insofar as its ubiquity cheapens it. It should be said that it may have considerable inherent interest to start with.

But I think that he said it with great authenticity. That always matters to me because my aesthetics is that art is a form of communication and the difference between an authentic artistic expression and an inauthentic expression is the difference between describing a photo taken in Paris and describing Paris. It's a continuum, of course—I think the best artists get the closest to presenting the thing itself within the confines of art. Which, I think, is the point. (Not just the thing itself, but that it exists by agency.)

The technical competency of the presentation matters a great deal, in my opinion, but it's secondary. And if the technical expression is arrayed in harmony with the subject, then "technical competency" for those purposes may not be what is commonly assumed. With that in mind, I'm not prepared to say that Nirvana was not especially technically competent. Obviously from a conventional standpoint they weren't.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:39 AM on November 26, 2006


Thanks, Ethereal Bligh, for your thoughtful elcidation.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:59 AM on November 26, 2006


Another vote that the original Ask thread should have been deleted.

And, am I the only person who remembers Pete Townsend talking publicly about having sex with under-age partners? This would have been in about 1983. He was quoted about how awful it was to be a heroin addict and he said something about "waking up in bed next to a 13-year-old".
posted by AmbroseChapel at 3:09 AM on November 26, 2006


"it's better to burn out than fade away"

Are y'all sure he was referencing Neil Young and not Def Leppard here?

No serenade, no fire brigade, just-a pyromania? C'mon.

At any rate, I'm surprised so many people still think that whole deal was a suicide.
posted by First Post at 3:32 AM on November 26, 2006


At any rate, I'm surprised so many people still think that whole deal was a suicide.

I guess I haven't paid much attention but, there's, like, some kind of conspiracy theory on Cobain's death? What, it was Courtney Love pulled the trigger? Record company execs? Pearl Jam?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:39 AM on November 26, 2006


the difference between an authentic artistic expression and an inauthentic expression

Just noting in passing that even though I'm not going to engage you on just how slippery, difficult (and possibly illusory) a concept 'authentic' is because it's damn near my bedtime, that doesn't mean I'm giving you a free pass, buddy.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:22 AM on November 26, 2006


Obviously from a conventional standpoint they weren't.

I don't give a rat's ass about Kurt Cobain, but Chris Novoselic is a hell of a bassist.
posted by languagehat at 6:38 AM on November 26, 2006


I guess I never really got what ol' Kurt had to say

hey. wait. he had a real complaint.
posted by quonsar at 7:24 AM on November 26, 2006


flapjax at midnite writes "I guess I haven't paid much attention but, there's, like, some kind of conspiracy theory on Cobain's death?"

That was news to me, too. There's disagreement that it was a suicide?
posted by Bugbread at 7:25 AM on November 26, 2006


Chris Novoselic is a hell of a bassist.

He's also a super nice guy too. He used to come into the bookstore I worked in all the time in Seattle. You know he speaks Croatian?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:29 AM on November 26, 2006


There's disagreement that it was a suicide?

Yeah, bugbread; there was even a pretty good movie about it, which Courtney tried to suppress, whose director concluded, "I think there's only one way you can explain a lot of things around his death. Not that he was murdered, but that there was just a lack of caring for him. I just think that Courtney had moved on, and he was expendable."

More:
Cobaincase.com, from the PI Courtney hired to find Kurt after he skipped out on rehab.
Justiceforkurt.com.
Smoking Gun.
Wikipedia on Cobain suicide dispute.
posted by mediareport at 7:41 AM on November 26, 2006


I don't give a rat's ass about Kurt Cobain, but Chris Novoselic is a hell of a bassist.

I still maintain that Dave Grohl's tremendous drumming is key to that band.
posted by rocketman at 8:15 AM on November 26, 2006


I can't speak much to Novoselic's bass-playing, but Grohl isn't a very impressive drummer technically. He's very good in the way that matters most, though. I think the same is true for the band as a whole. I've written about this before, but my own experience and growth as a trained musician is that technical mastery should be a means to an end but for many it's an end to itself. And it's actually less common than being a gifted musician in the greater sense. Of course, I prefer extreme competence in every respect, but that's not a realistic standard.

And, stav, arguments about aesthetics can be more than mere arguments about taste—and our apparent disagreement is an example—but it's nevertheless a subject where the very existence of any foundation for argument is hotly disputed. So I cheerfully disagree while respecting your opposing viewpoint. Actually, to be more honest, this is one of the very few—actually the only example I can think of at the moment—subjects in which I unabashedly am firm in my certainty of my intuitive and emotive sense of "truth" and all rational argument is rationalization and elaboration. I guess this is what it feels like to be a theist. It's nice to have no doubt. As ethics is my primary concern and where my sense of responsibility lies, I don't see how the topic demands that I force self-doubt on myself, either. I know good art when I experience it. (Note that I don't assume that my failure to see something as good means that it mustn't be.)
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:39 AM on November 26, 2006


Cobain notoriously ripped the guitar-smashing schtick from Townshend

I think that you have misunderstood my usage of "rip". It was meant in terms of "slagging", or "criticising", not as "copying". I personally found it unusual that Townshend was so ready to condemn self-destructive and anti-social behaviour and writing on the part of Cobain through the medium of a review of Cobain's journals. It just seemed to me like he was trying a bit too hard.

As regards who invented what chord, I have little interest in amplified guitar techniques and am unqualified to judge the authenticity of guitar performances.

Pete Townshend does not have "status as a sex offender." He was given a "caution" after an attempted witch-hunt failed to prove he did anything wrong.

As grouse points out, this is incorrect. A caution in the UK is a specific non-custodial sentence that carries an explicit admission of guilt. When presented with a caution, a suspect could decide to contest it in court and plead innocence. It's basically a version of a plea bargain, designed to avoid clogging up the court system. In order to be cautioned, a defendant must have made a complete confession in the presence of police.

Townshend's PR people keep spinning this as a "not guilty" result, but in fact a caution is an automatic guilty plea. Under the Sex Offenders Act 1997, Townshend was placed on the ViSOR (Violent and Sex Offender Register) list, which went online on January 1st, 2003. I believe he will belisted for five years. If he avoids perpatrating a similar crime during that time, his name will be removed from the list.

It's interesting to note that Townshend' offence (using his credit card to purchase child porn) occured during 1999. Had he been caught for a similar offence during 2000 or on, he would have been subject to the new Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 (or the even stricter Sexual Offences Act 2003). He would not have been able to obtain a caution and would have faced a mandatory five years custodial sentence.

Townshend himself continually presents himself as massively confused about what exactly he has done and his "innocence" or "guilt": What I did was wrong. And stupid. My culpability is clear, but my innocence is absolute.

Comparisons with Gary Glitter and Jonathan King are interesting. They all seem to exhibit peculiarly British sensibilities.
posted by meehawl at 8:49 AM on November 26, 2006


there was even a pretty good movie about it, which Courtney tried to suppress

I'm not sure it's fair to reduce Nick Broomfield's film as being about whether or not Kurt Cobain committed suicide (or, worse, about Courtney Love). As a documentarian Broomfield is first and foremost interested in where the story takes him, and Love just became the elephant in the room he couldn't ignore (as, iirc, he himself explains in the film) during his attempt at making a film about the music scene of the time.

Of course, he did end up calling it "Kurt & Courtney" and perhaps the marketing was heavily skewed towards the supposed controversy, but that was all just dressing for what is in essence a fascinating study of the different stages of stardom and its gravity pull (with sometimes tragic results).
posted by war wrath of wraith at 8:49 AM on November 26, 2006


Old farts arguing about Nirvana. It's 1995 all over again.
posted by bardic at 8:50 AM on November 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


Isn't it Krist, not Chris?
posted by The Deej at 8:58 AM on November 26, 2006


Thanks for the clarification, wwow. It's been a while since I saw it, but remember liking what Broomfield did with the film.
posted by mediareport at 9:01 AM on November 26, 2006


Comparisons with Gary Glitter and Jonathan King are interesting. They all seem to exhibit peculiarly British sensibilities.

What on earth does that mean? That the completely unrelated cases of Townshend downloading child porn, Glitter raping little girls and King fucking 15 year old boys (possibly consensually) are all down to peculiarly British character traits?
posted by jack_mo at 9:37 AM on November 26, 2006


But a shitload of other people, across several generations, think otherwise. It's not just faddish. It's been a damn long time since Nevermind. I think that album's record of standing the test of time is the best evidence for my side's case there is.

Meh. This thread is the first I've heard of it. Seriously.
posted by Doohickie at 9:44 AM on November 26, 2006


But a shitload of other people, across several generations, think otherwise. It's not just faddish. It's been a damn long time since Nevermind. I think that album's record of standing the test of time is the best evidence for my side's case there is.

A shitload of irrelevant joyless tosspots who use crappy self-confirming phrases like "test of time" that they picked up from their joyless authentic music magazines.
posted by cillit bang at 10:07 AM on November 26, 2006


(actually, that's really mean, but using that kind of language pushes all the wrong buttons with me)
posted by cillit bang at 10:11 AM on November 26, 2006


peculiarly British character traits

I relate them insofar as they all feature middle-aged men seemingly perpetually engaged in stereotypically adolescent behaviour who have been found guilty of sundry sexual offences with respect to children. I believe that despite being found guilty (or having legally admitted to be guilty as charged), all three continue to proclaim their innocence in the court of public opinion. So what we have is in effect two versions of public character existing - legally guilty but publicly innocent. British discourse is particularly good at maintaining discursive walls between these different public presentations of character - I believe this is because it is such a tightly mediated society with a relatively small number of mass media with extensive reach. The ongoing competition between perceptions of public guilt and innocence is instructive, especially when considering such factors as labelling and moral panics.

Finally, also relevant to one's characterisation of these deviant behaviours suitable for relation or not is the issue of whether the fetishisation of children is a developmental process along a well-defined probabilistic continuum of behaviours leading to abuse, or is a singular, unpredictable event. Sociologists and psychologists probably tend to think one way, whereas criminologists will tend to favour a different perspective.
posted by meehawl at 10:25 AM on November 26, 2006


i recently downloaded nevermind and in utero in an attempt to re-examine whether, as in so many many things, i had completely missed the boat regarding cobain. after a few listens to nevermind, which shines for three tracks before degenerating into pretentious noise, i eagerly cued up in utero. heh. all in all, no thanks, with regard to both. yeah, nice drumming throughout, and some catchy bass playing i grant. anti-guitar guitar playing, well, i didn't like it then, don't like it now. don't understand what the big deal was. no sign of tortured genius anywhere. possibly my appreciation is hampered by the ultra-ironic image forever stuck in my head of novoselic on the mtv award show pitching his bass into the sky and then just standing there with a stupid, stoned, andy-kaufmann-on-taxi look on his face. until it came smashing back down on his head, lying him flat out on the floor. i pass.
posted by quonsar at 10:27 AM on November 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


what, exactly, in your opinion, did Cobain have to say?

If I remember correctly, it was "I'd rather be dead than cool."
posted by shmegegge at 10:29 AM on November 26, 2006


holy christ, who ganked quonsar's account?
posted by shmegegge at 10:31 AM on November 26, 2006


there's a fish in my pants.
posted by Kwine at 10:50 AM on November 26, 2006 [1 favorite]


there's, like, some kind of conspiracy theory on Cobain's death?

Yes. It involves his backing out of headlining Lollapalooza and intending to retreat from the music scene altogether for a while (follow the money, right? Lot of cash involved there--they were one of the biggest musical acts in the world at that point). Supposedly the letter he wrote to his fans about being disillusioned by the music business and planning to "go away" on hiatus had a few lines added/altered so that it would appear to be more of a suicide note.

Il Duce from the Mentors said he was offered money to kill Kurdt (he mentions this in "Kurt and Courtney"). Then, to use a line from Steve Goodman, he got runned over by a damned old train, conveniently enough. So who knows.

As for the Townshend thing, doesn't anybody remember "Rough Boys"?
posted by First Post at 10:52 AM on November 26, 2006


Wait, what? I was trying to write this screed about how I totally missed out on Nirvana and how I just listened to them and they totally sucked anyway so I wasn't sorry and I think there was something about the MTV awards, but that "fish-pants" thing came out instead. Sorry, internet.
posted by Kwine at 10:53 AM on November 26, 2006


Novoselic dropping his bass on his face (as mentioned by quonsar above) is a little bit after 4:00 in this youtube video.

I had to find it.
posted by blacklite at 10:54 AM on November 26, 2006


doesn't anybody remember "Rough Boys"?

*cough*
posted by quonsar at 10:59 AM on November 26, 2006


"...who use crappy self-confirming phrases like "test of time" that they picked up from their joyless authentic music magazines"

Not so much "mean" as an ineffectual insult. It's not as if a) "test of time" is some sort of rarely used phrase in the English language, or that, b) "test of time" isn't widely regarded as being one of the few tests of artistic merit there is.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:11 AM on November 26, 2006


So is it too late to pop into this thread and *urk* *gack* *grisly, spontaneous demise*
posted by furiousthought at 11:21 AM on November 26, 2006


quonsar : "possibly my appreciation is hampered by the ultra-ironic image forever stuck in my head of novoselic on the mtv award show pitching his bass into the sky and then just standing there with a stupid, stoned, andy-kaufmann-on-taxi look on his face. until it came smashing back down on his head, lying him flat out on the floor. i pass."

I presume we're talking about a different MTV award show than the one blacklite linked? Because that doesn't show his face, let alone his expression.
posted by Bugbread at 11:26 AM on November 26, 2006


*cough*

Right on, noted.

It just seemed odd that folks would be so surprised by subsequent events re Townshend after hearing that one.

Right now it's a popular sentiment to say Nirvana sucked and is overrated 'cause dude died. I think it'll cycle back around, however. There will always be arguments for either side, much like other popular bands (such as the growing Beatles backlash--let's see what the "Love" album does for all that). For what it's worth, Cobain himself always seemed very uncomfortable with the high praise his music often received. Personally I don't listen to 'em much anymore; I dunno if it's more of a reaction to the music, or the era it represents.
posted by First Post at 11:28 AM on November 26, 2006


It's not as if a) "test of time" is some sort of rarely used phrase in the English language

And that's why I felt it was mean, because each and every person who's ever used such boring language to discuss art deserves the same callout. It's a hack phrase used by people who don't think their own opinion matters enough to just say "I like this", and thus pull out this big grand pseudo-objective "test of time" trope which boils down to "I'm still blathering on about this boring old shit, therefore it must be important".

b) "test of time" isn't widely regarded as being one of the few tests of artistic merit there is.

I'd love to hear what the others are, or why you think such tests are more important than say, artistic merit.

It's strange to see you being so smart and self-aware on that comics thread and then so closed-minded here.
posted by cillit bang at 11:36 AM on November 26, 2006


I like Nirvana.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 11:55 AM on November 26, 2006


"t's strange to see you being so smart and self-aware on that comics thread and then so closed-minded here."

Seems to me that you're the one being close-minded. I'm not the one eliminating things from consideration, you are.

"It's a hack phrase used by people who don't think their own opinion matters enough to just say 'I like this', and thus pull out this big grand pseudo-objective 'test of time' trope which boils down to 'I'm still blathering on about this boring old shit, therefore it must be important'."

I sniff a familiar and over-used rant. You're not actually thinking about this at all. For example, your argument is that I'm a person who doesn't think my own opinion matters. Are you comfortable with that implied assertion? You may be the first person in my entire life to level that criticism at me.

And it's not "pseudo-objective", it's actually objective. You know, it's a test that measures an objective quality. It may or may not be a test relevant to the matter at hand, but one thing it is, is objective. Unlike so many others. Which is part of the point.

I'm certainly not arguing that everything that is old and still popular is good. There are other reasons why things remain popular. But I think there's a variety of strong arguments to support the theory that there's a pretty good correlation between quality and persistence1 and, furthermore, given that so many other tests rely on purely subjective measurements this one ends up being pretty useful as a result. If we are going to argue aesthetic judgments, then it's nice to have a metric upon which we can all easily agree about the measurements.

Anyway, frankly, your crusade is a bit silly. It seems a lot more likely to me that what is actually happening is that you're recapitulating an argument you had a long time ago with some authority who said you were stupid in not liking some old, boring thing because it obviously has passed the test of time. Maybe you should take up your argument with him.

1. For example, one of my own arguments to this effect is that the experience of art is always cultural-centric and thus the balance between what is internal and external to a work is very hard to perceive, let alone determine. As a cultural context shifts, however, the ability of an artwork to remain relevant and immediate begins to signal the degree to which its ability to do so is internal and not external. Simply put, this is why greatness is often best appreciated much later than when it appears.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:01 PM on November 26, 2006


I presume we're talking about a different MTV award show than the one blacklite linked?

so i imagined the latka-esque bit. probably indicative of my basic perception of them at the time. at least i haven't overlooked your intellectual prowess and the incisive wit with which you pointed it out.
posted by quonsar at 12:12 PM on November 26, 2006


Isn't it Krist, not Chris?

He has used both.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:12 PM on November 26, 2006


I've just come up with a new t-shirt idea, and I'll market it at MeFi meetups and make a jillion. Not simply cos it's based on a popular-yet-lame meme but because I think it speaks for everyone. It will be a simple black tshirt with big bold white helvetica text that says:

YOUR THREAD SUCKS

oh and I s'pose I can do a reverse black-on-white theme for all the dillnuts who insist on bringing the 80s back into style, when we who actually endured them know there's really nothing there to defend.
posted by lonefrontranger at 12:19 PM on November 26, 2006


You know he speaks Croatian?

I did not! Now I like him even better.
posted by languagehat at 1:07 PM on November 26, 2006


Are you comfortable with that implied assertion? You may be the first person in my entire life to level that criticism at me.

Well that's kind of my point. There's no need to garnish your opinion with this kind of language if you are confident in it.
posted by cillit bang at 1:34 PM on November 26, 2006


I think I liked quonsar better when he stuck to the pithy snarks and tired catchphrases.
A thinking, talking quonsar?
That's not what I signed up for!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 2:21 PM on November 26, 2006


Nirvana's music is not meant to be listened to with a critic's ear. To me its more like hate, depression, paradox and anger channeled into sound. In this sense Nevermind is the weakest of the lot, though still the most catchy.
posted by MetaMonkey at 2:50 PM on November 26, 2006


jess, did you work at twice sold tales?

I *gasp* oh no *gasp*

*dies*
posted by mwhybark at 3:07 PM on November 26, 2006


nevermind, which shines for three tracks before degenerating into pretentious noise

There are a lot of things you can say about simple, catchy rock gems like "On A Plain" and "Stay Away," but "pretentious noise" isn't really one of them.
posted by mediareport at 3:15 PM on November 26, 2006


jess, did you work at twice sold tales?

No, Left Bank Books, is that better or worse for your ... um ... asthma?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:40 PM on November 26, 2006


Metafilter: I didn't cry or anything when he killed himself.

sorry
posted by mygothlaundry at 3:53 PM on November 26, 2006


Well, good answer, kinda, EB, but. I would maintain that 'authenticity' is a difficult concept to defend as meaningful (much as ever fiber of my fibrous bits would like to (shorthand, here)), and that you didn't really address that. Which is OK, of course. I suspect we probably agree for the most part on the principles, actually, but that I've got a few more areas about which I'm willing to admit great uncertainty.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:11 PM on November 26, 2006


Also, Nirvana was alright, if you were on the right drugs. Hell, I bought 'Bleach' when it came out -- I was all over the Seattle scene at the time. Goddamn Andrew Wood stole a bottle of schnapps from me one time.

I can see why people loved them, and I quite enjoyed Nevermind but they weren't really my cup of tea. Depair, aggression and ennui were rarely my schtick.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:16 PM on November 26, 2006


I still maintain that Dave Grohl's tremendous drumming is key to that band.

Absolutely.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:56 PM on November 26, 2006


lfr: where have you been?
posted by mlis at 8:29 PM on November 26, 2006


mediareport writes "There are a lot of things you can say about simple, catchy rock gems like 'On A Plain' and 'Stay Away,' but 'pretentious noise' isn't really one of them."

"Drain You", too. Pretty straightforward pop. Verse, chorus, verse, though the bridge might be a little on the long side for top-40 radio....

You stopped listening at the intro to "Territorial Pissings", didn't you, quonsar?
posted by mr_roboto at 10:48 PM on November 26, 2006


*rises from grave*

ah, Left Bank. I spent New Year's 1988 at the collective's house and always have a soft spot for the place. I bet I even bought some which or other from you back in the day, Hakim Bey or Gibson or somesuch.
posted by mwhybark at 12:45 AM on November 27, 2006


If frank black was good looking...we wouldnt be discussing cobain.
posted by sgt.serenity at 7:32 AM on November 27, 2006


If frank black was good looking...we wouldnt be discussing cobain.

The hole in that theory is that Kim Deal is good looking.
posted by jonmc at 7:39 AM on November 27, 2006


If frank black was good looking had committed suicide...we wouldnt be discussing him in addition to cobain.

Seriously, there is enough room in the world of music crit for both Pixies and Nirvana, and neither was a proper subset of the other, and really what a silly thing to say in general.

The hole in that theory is that Kim Deal is good looking.

Kim effin' Deal!
posted by cortex at 7:50 AM on November 27, 2006


The Novoselic incident on MTV was worhtwhile because it inspired this cool song, from the album of the same name.
posted by TedW at 8:53 AM on November 27, 2006


*commits suicide*
posted by jonmc at 12:44 PM EST on November 25


I hope jonmc is ok.
posted by crunchland at 9:43 PM on November 27, 2006


Are you bucking for a metafilterhistory tag, crunchland?
posted by cgc373 at 10:23 PM on November 27, 2006


Are you comfortable with that implied assertion? You may be the first person in my entire life to level that criticism at me.
posted by Ethereal Bligh

Well that's kind of my point. There's no need to garnish your opinion with this kind of language if you are confident in it.
posted by cillit bang


Get out of town, Bligh. People level similar criticisms at you all the time. One of my first MeFi comments was about how you say so much less than you write.
posted by Doohickie at 9:48 PM on November 28, 2006


Or perhaps you understand so much less than you read.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:04 PM on November 28, 2006 [1 favorite]


Doohickie writes "People level similar criticisms at you all the time. One of my first MeFi comments was about how you say so much less than you write."

How is that a similar criticism?
posted by Bugbread at 4:06 AM on November 29, 2006


At the risk of getting caught in a quagmire, I'll try to lose the snarky attitude and try to answer both points as straight as I can:

Or perhaps you understand so much less than you read.

First of all, good comback. However, if you look at the points you make versus the number of words used, you tend to be more wordy than most other posters to this forum. Sometimes it's beautiful prose, but a lot of the time I (and I suspect others also) find mindself muttering, "Okay, now get to the point." Because I am trying to answer this without trying to be snarky, maybe I should add that perhaps more than anything, it is contrast between your thorough writing style and the often very direct style of other MeFites.

How is that a similar criticism?

cillit bang refers to "garnishing your opinion wiht this kind of language"

And the original remark was "It's a hack phrase used by people who don't think their own opinion matters enough to just say 'I like this', and thus pull out this big grand pseudo-objective 'test of time' trope which boils down to 'I'm still blathering on about this boring old shit, therefore it must be important'."

I think that's pretty much the same thing as what I am saying in terms of being wordy. cilit bang a takes it a little further, saying that EB pads his statements with stock phrases (like "test of time"), and also makes the inference that because EB does this, he is not as sure of his opinions, which is not a claim I made. So maybe there isn't a direct comparison to the criticism I made; cilit bang starts where I did, but takes it further. While I wouldn't make that leap myself, but I can see where cilit bang is coming from.
posted by Doohickie at 7:55 AM on November 29, 2006


Ah, ok, that makes sense.
posted by Bugbread at 9:43 AM on November 29, 2006


"cilit bang a takes it a little further, saying that EB pads his statements with stock phrases (like 'test of time'), and also makes the inference that because EB does this"

But it wasn't padding, it was an argument. It's not meaningless, there's good arguments for the utility of that as a test. One may disagree, as cilit bang does, but it's just silly that he claims it is meaningless or "padding". It can only be "padding" if he begs the question and assumes that his aesthetics is the only correct aesthetics—that "what I like" is all there is and everything else is unnecessary and posturing rationalization. But I don't accept that assumption. If he doesn't accept my assumption that there's any kind of an objection basis for aesthetics, then he should contest that assumption directly. Instead, what he's doing is taking his assumptions for granted and using that as a basis to call my argument invalid and, furthermore and insultingly, apply that as a sort of psychological insight. That's both arrogant and unreasonable.

Secondly, I do use more words than other people. And to most people many of them appear to be unnecessary. But I choose those words very carefully and they almost always enhance precision.

The stronger argument for a superabundance in my writing is my preference to say my most important points at least two different ways. But even that, while arguably unnecessary, is neither thoughtless nor intended to serve any other end than clarity.

The strongest argument for superabundance is my usage of certain phrases that signal a more formal style of writing. I've been trying to whittle those away.

My worldview is such that I think that being aware of subtle distinctions is very important. My writing reflects this. For those who feel differently, my writing will seem to be padded or obtuse, or both. I recognize this but can accommodate it only to a limited extent.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:50 AM on November 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


The problem EB, is that "test of time" has no particular fixed definition. In context, it seems like you were using it as shorthand for "I still like it after 15 years". But then you talk all this bullshit about it being "objective" and none of it makes sense. In future, just say what you mean and don't resort to weighty hackneyed phrases that make everyone dumber.
posted by cillit bang at 10:33 AM on November 29, 2006


it doesn't make anyone dumber. it's a language convention, a commonly used phrase that means "for 15 years it's been on a lot of top 10 lists and has had an almost negligible amount of backlash among popular and critical opinion." stop picking at him for no fucking reason.
posted by shmegegge at 10:50 AM on November 29, 2006


It has a "particular definition", it makes sense, and it is objective. It may not be true, and you may object to an assertion that it is true, but you can't say that it has no definition or that it doesn't make sense or that it's not objective. The "definition", as it were, is: the longer a work remains popular, the more likely it has inherent artistic value. It makes sense because it can be partially validated empirically by correlating critical inherent praise and longevity and because a number of plausible mechanisms for why such a thing would occur are available. It is objective because both "popularity" and "longevity" are objectively measurable traits.

You have objections to "test of time" and you dislike its usage. That's your prerogative. But the arguments you've presented against it here are faulty. They are ad hominem and tautological where they are not simply false. Because you "know" that "test of time" is meaningless, then anyone using that phrase is being pretentious, obtuse, and lacks the courage of their convictions. And you "know" that "test of time" is meaningless because...you "know" it is meaningless. Your arguments are false when you claim that "test of time" is "pseudo-objective" and when you say it has "no particular definition".

Consider that even if most people who use the phrase "test of time" do so with little thought and tautologically there's no reason that every use is thoughtless and tautological and that your assumption that this is the case is both thoughtless and smug. Quit confusing your prejudices with arguments.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 11:11 AM on November 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


No, I think you'll find I'm right and you're wrong, actually.
posted by cillit bang at 12:09 PM on November 29, 2006


And to most people many of them appear to be unnecessary. But I choose those words very carefully and they almost always enhance precision.

I have been a professional editor for nearly twenty years. You are neither precise nor careful in your writing. Your writing is padded unnecessarily.

Half the time I agree with you and the rest of the time think you're a whackjob. But I always think that you are unnecessarily verbose and that you could cut the length of your posts by half or more, yet make the same points with no reduction in subtlety.
posted by solid-one-love at 2:40 PM on November 29, 2006


"I have been a professional editor for nearly twenty years. You are neither precise nor careful in your writing. Your writing is padded unnecessarily."

I know for a fact my writing is careful. That you presume to claim that it isn't doesn't bode well for your judgment of its precision.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:22 PM on November 29, 2006


I know for a fact my writing is careful. That you presume to claim that it isn't doesn't bode well for your judgment of its precision.

Maybe you just don't know what to be careful about.
posted by JekPorkins at 10:29 PM on November 29, 2006


Maybe so. And maybe my precision is excessive to the point of being unnecessary in any context. If so, perhaps I'll figure that out someday.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:40 PM on November 29, 2006


Secondly, I do use more words than other people. And to most people many of them appear to be unnecessary. But I choose those words very carefully and they almost always enhance precision.

The stronger argument for a superabundance in my writing is my preference to say my most important points at least two different ways. But even that, while arguably unnecessary, is neither thoughtless nor intended to serve any other end than clarity.


I have no desire to get in line and give EB another whack here -- this is an observation not meant to be about anyone but myself.

As exasperating as EB's prolixity can be, I sympathize, because I used to be very much the same -- exhaustive, multivalent, possibly pedantic in the service of a self-shouldered quest for clarity -- when speaking. I had the gift of the gab, and could hold clusters of people spellbound pretty much at will, particularly if they'd been drinking. Heh. I knew when to shut up, but people loved to wind me up, let me go, and sit back and watch.

I had an almost pathological need to make certain that people didn't misunderstand me or what I was saying (and that I didn't misunderstand them), and I could be funny and engaging, and putting that together with a certain skill with the language and various and powerful chemicals: it was fun and gratifying, and the Tales are still told of my Adventures in certain quarters. I was amusing, but I was really just trying to weave words together to pierce as much as I could through the clouds and blankets of bullshit.

I was always trying to achieve clarity, to let no nuance go unaddressed, to bang the rocks together, to approach everything from as many perspectives as possible (all while (metaphorically) juggling chainsaws or whistling dixie out my butt so people didn't get bored), all because I loved to be the centre of attention, because I thought I was pretty damn smart, and mostly (I think in retrospect) because I was scared that people wouldn't like me.

But there gradually came a point -- I don't recall exactly when -- when I realized that it didn't really matter what I thought. That most people didn't give a shit one way or the other, that understand and like were probably beyond my control, and that the people that could understand didn't need the extra words, the point-and-counterpoint, the overweening evenhandedness, the fountain and welter of ideas. That most people were in the mosh pit for the jokes, and that the ones that were interested in Deep Thinkin' would be able to follow interstitial shortcuts and gestures and sketches rather than the slog up the long and winding road, that with them we could get to the good stuff more directly. Most importantly, that my actual friends were interested in more than just the Performer.

So (and this may be hard to believe, I know) I dialed it back. Most of the time. I even regret my attempts to be more laconic sometimes -- it felt like losing intellectual passion. The heat is still there, though, even if the light is dimmer. So I sympathize with, and still feel, at times, the urge. Like now.

Not to say that EB is in any significant ways the same with his (sometimes (perceived)) textual overkill, but, like I said, I used to have a monkey on my back that steered me by the ears down my own similar chute. So that's my little story, not that anyone asked.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:58 PM on November 29, 2006 [2 favorites]


And since I'm on a hypercaffeinated roll, I will say that with regards to writing, I love stringing words together, sometimes just to see what will tumble out of my poor, battered brain, but over the years the advice of many people I trust has been to 'use fewer words' and I think that's good advice. Even though I often ignore it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:07 PM on November 29, 2006


I know for a fact my writing is careful.

Well, my professional opinion is that people who don't understand the difference between a fact and an opinion never judge their own use of language well.

In any case, there is nothing excessively precise -- or precise at all -- about your writing. It's a fair comment, directed without rancour.
posted by solid-one-love at 12:13 AM on November 30, 2006


"Well, my professional opinion is that people who don't understand the difference between a fact and an opinion never judge their own use of language well."

Physician, heal thyself. I write with much care. I know that because I am uniquely qualified to report on my inner state. Thus, that I write carefully can be taken for a fact unless you have reason to believe that I am lying. Perhaps you might consider that what you expect will result from "writing carefully" is not necessarily the case and where you perceive its lack you are not necessarily perceiving a lack of care. Or you can confuse opinion with fact, in your professional opinion.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 4:13 AM on November 30, 2006


Stav's comment brings up another point. People interact for different reasons, wanting different things from the experience. For the most part, I think each of the most common reasons are equally valid. Stav vividly describes a performance motivation—I suspect that this motivation shared among a number of people to produce mutual entertainment accounts for the larger portion of the people engaging in public discourse, like we are here. But that's not my motivation and never has been and I think that when people see me through that lens they come to the wrong conclusions both about my writing and about my personality.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 5:11 AM on November 30, 2006


(I know you know, EB, but I was trying to be careful not to suggest that that might be the case.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:33 AM on November 30, 2006


I know that because I am uniquely qualified to report on my inner state. Thus, that I write carefully can be taken for a fact unless you have reason to believe that I am lying.

You are reporting on your perception of your inner state. People are rarely objective judges of their own behaviour. Unless you are an aberration, it is more fair to call your description of your abilities and actions an opinion, rather than a fact.

"Either it is fact or I am lying" is an example of bifurcation fallacy, btw.

You are reacting as if you're being attacked, and it was not my intent to start something. Enjoy the rest of the thread.
posted by solid-one-love at 6:59 AM on November 30, 2006


I loved stav's comment, which captured part of my journey as well, and I'd just like to highlight this particularly worthy bit:

But there gradually came a point -- I don't recall exactly when -- when I realized that it didn't really matter what I thought.

Yup. Yupyupyup. It's amazingly liberating to realize that and I hope some of you bastards come to that liberating realization sooner rather than later.
posted by languagehat at 7:06 AM on November 30, 2006


It may be liberating, but that doesn't mean it's true. If the point of the realization is that one isn't special, that no one's waiting breathlessly for one's every spoken thought, that opinions are like assholes and everyone has one, well, yes, that's perfectly true. If it's a response to an inflated sense of self-importance, great.

But what one thinks does matter. Of course it matters. It should matter to oneself because it makes a person who he is. It matters to other people insofar as it influences behavior. And discourse matters because it's a primary path for learning and growth. If people would stop discussing ideas, like we're doing here, then maybe I'd stop mistaking MetaFilter for a seminar.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 8:42 AM on November 30, 2006


"You are reporting on your perception of your inner state. People are rarely objective judges of their own behaviour. Unless you are an aberration, it is more fair to call your description of your abilities and actions an opinion, rather than a fact."

Whether one is careful about something is readily apparent to oneself. It's not buried deep in the psyche. And it's not something one could easily self-delude about, either. It's not something I've known people to self-delude about. That I write carefully is a fact, just like that I like Nirvana is a fact. Both are the sort of self-observations people rarely dispute.

Where you're going wrong is in your single-minded determination to infer my inner state on the basis of your judgement about the quality of my writing. If you'd more clarity of thought and wit, you'd have simply admitted you were wrong and said that you underestimated my care because you overestimated my competence.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:02 AM on November 30, 2006


Whether one is careful about something is readily apparent to oneself. It's not buried deep in the psyche. And it's not something one could easily self-delude about, either. It's not something I've known people to self-delude about. That I write carefully is a fact, just like that I like Nirvana is a fact. Both are the sort of self-observations people rarely dispute.

Oh, FFS, in fact, it is remarkably easy to self-delude about one's own ability to do anything. Here's some reading material on metacognative abilities of humans.

That you like Nirvana is an opinion, or a judgement.

Also, to quibble over semantics upthread, careful does not equal succinct.
posted by desuetude at 9:20 AM on November 30, 2006


I wrote this sentence carefully. I like Nirvana. Those are both facts. They are not opinions. Good luck in telling people that their reports of their readily available inner-states is mere opinion. I have an opinion about such behavior: it's obnoxious and moronic.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 10:25 AM on November 30, 2006


Good luck in telling people that their reports of their readily available inner-states is mere opinion. I have an opinion about such behavior: it's obnoxious and moronic.

This not what I told "people." Additionally, I believe your opinion of my "behavior" to be unjust. For Fuck's Sake.

scare quotes because really, who talks like that?
posted by desuetude at 11:04 AM on November 30, 2006


I know for a fact my writing is careful.

It was only a matter of time until some asshole came along and noted that EB's sentence should read:

I know for a fact that my writing is careful.

That time is now and that asshole is me; EB needs a stop to signal the beginning of the indirect clause.

That said, I think that EB's writing is generally very clear, that he generally has complex ideas that he wants to express that take time to explicate, and that though I often skip over his comments because I'm here for the performances more than anything, this pile-on is lame. But what I think doesn't matter, right.

*lights cigarette, moves along with life*
posted by Kwine at 11:31 AM on November 30, 2006


"That said, I think that EB's writing is generally very clear, that he generally has complex ideas that he wants to express that take time to explicate, and that though I often skip over his comments because I'm here for the performances more than anything, this pile-on is lame. But what I think doesn't matter, right."

I appreciate the support.

But the pile-on isn't "lame" in that people are criticizing my writing. It's perfectly valid to assert that my writing seems wordy and to criticize it in any number of ways. It's perfectly valid to assert that it seems careless. What's lame is to entrench in contesting "careful" and to tell me that I don't write with care when I know that I do, in fact, write with care. Someone who can keep their eyes on the ball would say that I write carefully, but badly. It's also quite lame to confuse a statement of the type Nirvana is good with a statement of the type I like Nirvana. What's lame is to think and write so sloppily that it's taken for granted that the word careful applies to the product of writing and not to the activity of writing.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:01 PM on November 30, 2006


In another thread, someone said your writing there was "overqualified," meaning having too many qualifying phrases in it. I think that got to the root of the matter. I don't see you as being a careless writer, in fact, maybe you care too much that your exact meaning is conveyed. As a corollary to "it doesn't matter what I think," you might use "it doesn't matter how carefully I write," because a large number of interneteers are going to misinterpret some part of it anyway. The more parts there are, the more opportunity they have to misread it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:52 PM on November 30, 2006


A perfect point is the easiest to obscure.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:01 PM on November 30, 2006


You obviously consider that words you write and sentences you read can only possibly mean what you think they mean or what they mean when taken in the most literal sense possible. "Your writing is not careful" and "I write carefully" are not polar opposites. One does not rebut the other.
posted by cillit bang at 1:06 PM on November 30, 2006


But what one thinks does matter. Of course it matters.

Sure. But it matters more what one says, and even more what one does.

Being careful with one's writing does not automatically mean that one is or should also be parsimonious. Even in the hands of masters of the craft, language is a rude tool, and written language even more so when one is trying to juggle clarity and brevity, particularly when speaking of matters conceptual, as EB so often does. When you're forced to communicate telegraphically and sequentially, as we are here, having someone misunderstand your point can waste much time and effort or derail the discussion entirely.

For my part, the hierarchy of my reading preferences probably looks like smart > literate > funny > pithy. Everyone's got different priorities, though.

Also: the whole 'you don't know nuthin' 'bout my inner experience' versus 'your writing doesn't seem all that careful to me' is a red herring. An author and reader may have totally divergent opinions about the care with which something was written, and both can be completely correct.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:14 PM on November 30, 2006


(er, in the sense that the author might believe, for example, that he or she has taken great care to express the nuances of their thought, and the reader believe, for example, that the author is throwing words around with abandon, according to the reader's idea of careful writing.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:30 PM on November 30, 2006


EB, you and I are very similar when it comes to qualifying what we say.

The way I look at it, though, is that some points and statements require a lot more qualification than others. Sometimes there is a point that I want to make that would require a ton of qualifications and definitions to communicate. In that case, there are really three choices:

1) Write it all out, qualified and accurately.
2) Simplify it, and be misunderstood
3) Don't write it.

I tend to go with choice 3. With choice 1, I feel satisfied that what I've expressed is what I think, but almost nobody will read or enjoy it, due to its length. With choice 2, people may read and enjoy it, but what they're reading/enjoying is not what I am actually trying to say. With choice 3, nobody reads/enjoys it, but nobody is bothered by it. And while I haven't expressed what I wanted to say, I haven't been misinterpreted, either.

On a site like MeFi, where we're just talking socially, it isn't crucial that we say what we think. This isn't a city hall discussion where regulations or laws will be decided. So the way I figure is: if I can say something in a way that satisfies me and readers (to the extent that anyone's comments here can "satisfy"), then I'll say it. If I have to sacrifice one or the other, though, I'll just pass.
posted by Bugbread at 4:50 AM on December 1, 2006


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