Thursday, April 9, 2009

To be had, and srown away

There's no time to look it up, for there are chocolate bunnies and assorted hot cross buns to be bought, Aged Ps to visit and yet more Australia Post bags of books to open and sort, but somewhere in one of Helen Garner's essays (I think) is a discussion of how important it is, when planning to write or make something, to have a plan -- but how easy it then becomes for you to be ensnared by the plan, and to be unable to see beyond it to different possibilities. She once had a Polish friend, said Garner, whose opinion of plan-making was as follows: 'A plan is to be had, and srown away.'

I think of this dictum often, and in many different situations. It has been of particular help to me in the cut and thrust of blog thread discussions, especially on big group blogs. For there are some regular commenters whom one knows by now to be a bit bonkers, and engaging in protracted debate with them is never a good idea.

Lately I have been trying harder and harder to avoid getting into it with certain of these people, even when they post comments into which one is truly desperate to sink one's teeth. What works in this situation is exactly the same technique as the letter or email that you write and do not send. Writing it is not only cathartic, but it forces you to articulate clearly what it is that you actually think, and sometimes it even turns out that it was that act of articulation -- rather than the fight itself -- that you were longing for.

And I've written three different blog comments this morning that I've then deleted without posting, either because I've resisted engaging unproductively with someone, or because I know that what I have to say will bring down dreadful abuse upon my head. But that's fine. They were comments to be had, and srown away.

10 comments:

James Bradley said...

You might enjoy this:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-cesca/what-doesnt-kill-the-far_b_143398.html

James Bradley said...

Sorry - my link didn't work. Here it is again:

What Doesn't Kill The Far Right Only Makes Them Crazier

Helen said...

Hmm, very strange you should post this today. I've written a couple of beautifully crafted (well, I say so!) replies and deleted them, because they'd just provoke more unprofitable back and forth. Since you've been commenting a bit on a Blog of a Certain Colour you might have an inkling of the person (or two or three people) I'm talking about.

And yes, it is as you say.

Very sorry to miss you when you came to Melbourne!

Casey said...

Sometimes PC, there is a response that's aching to be put there and its so glaringly obvious it belongs there - so much so that the absence of the thing signifies its presence anyway. I hope that made sense. I had an operation on Tuesday which has left me a little pained...but the point is, I always like what you say and what you dont say, well it resonates with what you would say anyway. Refusals are as potent as engagement sometimes.

M-H said...

This is a lesson I am s-l-o-w-l-y learning. It helps that my partner will gently remind me occasionally that people have the right to be wrong on the internet, and I don't have to correct them. At least, not every time they are wrong.

Francis Xavier Holden said...

comment deleted prior to posting

Zoe said...

I just want to say two things - firstly, a little hug goes a long way and secondly, db is picantle!

fifi said...

Those sorts of comments, the ones made by the bonkerees, remind me of a character in a book by Nicole Krauss, who drops things such as flour in the middle of the grocery shop queue so that people notice them, and acknowledge that they exist.


oh. I hope I am not in the bonkers basket.


agh! word verification is SUCTAGON!!

Geometry porn!

tigtog said...

Good advice Pav - the vexatious twerps still manage to suck me in sometimes.

Caroline said...

I do that often. Indeed probably oftener than I actually post the comment. Its true, articulating an idea to oneself is probably all that's really in the end required. I don't like getting involved in online snark. Its too shocking because it is so personal--even when its not supposed to be. Both reading and writing make for a pretty direct route to the heart and if not the heart the internal self generally. I am not clever enough to engage in stoush repartee, and being denied the ability to deliver a withering look is for me something of an impediment.