Wednesday, April 02, 2008

In Which I Provoke You and Invite You To Disagree

I returned from break on Monday night, and have been really busy since. So in lieu of one of my long essay posts (two of which are in draft form right now!), a couple of de-contextualized, un-nuanced statements to stir the pot and get some comments/protests of violent disagreement:

  • I am often intellectually/artistically elitist, but I feel bad about how judgmental I can be based on my subjective values, even though I think there exist objective standards of value. However, I have tried to reconcile this by identifying things as good/bad but not attributing the same value propositions to the holders of those tastes. That is, you can like Ayn Rand, whose writing I think is shit, and not be a shitty person. If you agree with her selfish, masculinist philosophy, that is another thing though--you probably are a shitty person. If, however, you just like crappy fiction, then we can be homies, because there's no accounting for taste. This is uncontroversial I think, but Paul Gowder may violently disagree. And I do mean violently.
  • I agree with Paul on the idea of moral universalism and reject cultural relativism (esp. the cultural defense in criminal law), but I feel just as bad about this, especially after a few years of being steeped in post-colonial theory and global critical theory. I also tend to defend my psycho strict Asian parents as only being psycho only relative to Western standards of good parenting, when in fact they are psycho by Asian standards too. Well, I have heard worse stories--it's a bonding ritual among Asian kids to compare psycho strict parents. But I have never had to compare physical marks and bald-patches of pulled-out hair, which is why I will say that my parents aren't too bad, and Amber will tell me that I am nuts, given the oft-repeated (into adulthood, like say, two weeks ago) threats of disownment and Taliban-like restriction, and that threats of violence => abuse. What do you think about cultural relativism?
  • While I hate the idea of "settling" (I am not linking to that damned article again), I don't reject people for little things that seem to throw off others to the point of being a "dealbreaker." See above, Rand, Ayn. Amber thinks that I am quite a big person for this, but in fact it's just cowardice, as I would not want the same lens turned back at me. Heuristics for deal breaking are incredibly subjective and situational, and I do not agree with Paul (and Kant) about the subjective universal. How does that possibly work?!
  • Heaven forbid that I should be rejected because I: 1) talk too fast, 2) gesture too much, 3) can't modulate the volume of my voice when excited, 4) get excited too easily, 5) indulge unironically in sentimental movies/music/literature, 6) have psycho strict parents who contravene every anti-discrimination/equality principle I am working for (the best way to rebel), 7) am too normative in my approach to the world, 8) get too emotional, such that I tear up even during commercials, 9) fall asleep during road trips, and 10) am overly analytical and worse, articulate my over-thinking in long emails and even blog posts. What are your deal breakers?


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