Don’t Even Ask Me to Play Nice

 

I’m not sure there’s anything that frustrates me more than people using ‘niceness’ as an excuse to silence others. If there’s an illegitimate argument, fine, point it out.

But to say that someone shouldn’t speak out—whatever the issue, be it racism or the color of a website—because they didn’t make their point ‘nicely’ enough…

…it pisses me off.

Notice how ‘nice’ always has quotations around it? Because it’s effectively meaningless. Unless it’s used in the sense of ‘precision, which is never the case in these arguments. Furthermore, ‘nice’ came through from Middle English as foolish all the way back to its Latin root for “to be ignorant”. Good reason to never be nice.

People just can’t stand any challenge to their internal belief system, or anything that they feel defines them: which is to say, anything they like, because no one examines who they are beyond these things anymore. Have they ever? It’s certainly not taught in schools. Test scores and rote memorization are the key words of the day, and thought doesn’t come anywhere into it.

“Thought” is the only thing, in my opinion that everyone needs to know.

They push college educations on everyone as the answer to societies ills. But college is just continues the high school philosophy—another four or more years of refined job training. Teaching something as abstract as ‘how to think’ simply isn’t a factor.

Beware of the anti-anti-intellectualist (tdotc.wordpress.com)

So people define themselves by their shoes, and you get Sex in the City. They define themselves by their money and cars, and you John Goodman, the millionaire who killed a kid and abandoned the scene of the crime and who also ‘adopted’ his girlfriend. Then there are the people who wish they could define themselves by all of these things and you get Twilight and its offshoots, all emblematic of the exceedingly problematic way we treat young people, and especially women, and the glorification of rape culture.

Bestselling books (in the example I know most about) appeal most to the common denominator. I’m the last person to think this is necessarily a bad thing. But without readers who are capable of self-examination, who understand they can like something without thinking it’s the best thing ever, all these problems just get worse.

For example, back to GR. Many of the highly intelligent (intellectual) reviews bring in their life experiences, other books they’ve read, and if necessary to their response to the book, maybe author behavior. Often, when they’re responding to a book they don’t like, they respond to real-world events, real-life problems that are left unexamined by the text. Intellectuals don’t read in a vacuum.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
― Socrates

Fans of the criticized work, however, often come again and again to such negative reviews just to post that the reviewer is wrong. A rare few will be willing to understand the reviewer’s point, whether they agree with the conclusion or not. Most seem to take it as a personal attack. If the reviewer dislikes the book, they dislike the reader.

Frankly this is insane.

Sometimes these reviews are hidden because they’re flagged by fans as ‘inappropriate’. Back to what this does to conversations in our culture, you end up with sites like STGRB (which I will neither link nor specify further) which has stalked and harassed reviewers and even authors who object. All you need to know is that the site believes if someone goes on the record as not liking a book, it is bullying, and therefore should be attacked.

Few forums (in the larger sense of the word) are this actively anti-intellectual or anti-intelligence, and it’s an especially rare example for the book world. Even in the larger cultural discussion, it’s skeevy behavior— and yet is still something that people seem to enjoy talking about in a ‘titillating’ kind of way: like Huffington Post space given to STGRB apparently without apparently ever realizing thoughtful people found that behavior horrifically offense.

Thoughtful people enjoy conversations, playing with words, real discussions. Many others don’t realize what they love isn’t what they are, and can’t justify it to themselves any other way. Any difference is an attack on who they are, and they fear not having an answer to that challenge. And they do everything they can to silence it.

So if you come across someone just ripping apart something you love…Well, I hate to say it, but the best response is silence—at first. I hope you can think about their opinion, and their reasons. If they don’t have any? It’s not worth your time. If they’re all invalid? Same thing. But maybe, much as you hate to admit it, maybe they have a point. Start there, and you can have a real conversation.

Even on the internet.

 

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Still Killing Time, Actually Part 3

My schedule got pushed back a day, which seems appropriate for triviality like this. Also, I prefer posting on even days anyway.


Here in chapter five, we’ve fully moved to the alternate universe, where Christine Chapel holds the same function as in the original timeline, we have an awkward sparring scene between Chapel and the obligatory original character (OC) alien. We’ve not heard from Chapel before so it’s time for her POV and to hearken back to Thursday’s complaint about the twu-luv overcoming all other relationships, the alien S’Parva is physically sort-of canine (more on that later), but the awkwardness is that the encounter reads like fem-slash.

Poor S’Parva, by the way, whose alienness is completely random, gratuitous, token and makes no sense, who is introduced with this gem:

“A body like a goddess…and a face like an Irish setter.”

So it can be clarified that he’s not just being mean! she really is dog-like. Yeah. Uhura objects, laughingly, and says she knows the guy, Richardson, isn’t “a bigot or a xenophobiac” but doesn’t mention or object to the misogyny. She does put him down a few sentences later by calling McCoy to neuter the tomcat on the bridge. Which makes me feel a little better, however forced the banter.

The worst part of S’Parva’s ‘characterization’ is that she’s effectively human and doesn’t have any outsider perspective or observations on her situation or the rest of the crew—other than to bemoan how different she is, to let Richardson to flirt with her. Except Richardson is apparently the only guy to speak to her so she calls him her little brother or teacher or companion because this is a word that has more than one meaning and more than one interpretation! Of course. But still, one made-up word does not an alien make. A true TOS tradition regarding aliens, I suppose.

S’Parva is also described in canine terms, specifically as a quadruped. Which makes her different, you see. Except she really isn’t.

Already she had mastered walking upright—which, she realized, was actually quite convenient….She looked at her hands, at the fork she had learned to hold with some amount of practice. Three longer fingers and a thumb distinguishable from its human counterpart only by the soft fur. Yes, the rest would follow.

So I guess she’s really just a furry human with canine habits and a doglike face—so like TOS! Only she has one fewer finger…I guess that would make it harder to film.

It just really bothers me. Because apparently, with her arrive, the entire Enterprise, or at least her lab, is being retrofitted for quadrupeds. As another character says, this is a good thing and overdue if this made-up species isn’t the only four-legged intelligent creature* allowed to space travel with the Federation, but she isn’t a quadruped? And why didn’t she learn how to walk upright before if it’s so convenient, though her species has worked with Starfleet for years?

The easiest way to read this is through a laundry list of questions that as far as I can tell are never answered. Hence the need for a spork.

Oh, and because she’s OC she’s horribly self-conscious, even though she’s apparently physic enough to determine all the different species in a room just by their thoughts, but not enough to tell what they think of her—which, if she could, would naturally all be good (other than Richardson’s comments earlier)—because by golly, she was assigned a place on the Enterprise and is even the first of her species on a starship. Actually, though, I don’t think I’ll call her a Mary Sue though. This book jumps character’s heads so often we aren’t with her enough to make her that important. Now in Demons

Anyway.

Further on in the AU, S’Parva and Chapel are in exactly the same positions, with the same characters they had before. Other than to acknowledge Spock as captain, the situation may as well occur before. In fact, when I was looking it up again, I thought it did.

The scene, not even seven pages long, occurs because Chapel is out of shape, and so McCoy has told her that she needs to spar with S’Parva (of a much stronger race, from a planet with higher gravity) for S’Parva’s workout. Chapel does not do her research and so doesn’t know until the alien points it out to her. (She’s a nurse, how’d she plan on getting away with it if S’Parva were injured?) However, it’s the talk after the workout that bothers me (because this isn’t too bad until the characters are ‘reflecting’ on their emotions).

S’Parva’s whiskered brow rose onto a high canine forehead. “Oh?” she wondered, absently reaching out to massage the other woman’s tense neck muscles.

Christine nodded, meeting the Katellan’s confused expression, enjoying the warmth of the hands which were experts in the art of massage.

That’s not the full passage, but I had to quote it because it reminded me of why I thought fem-slash. Then I had to stop myself quoting because we jump right into Chapel’s crush on Spock, which was transported whole-cloth from the old universe.  And it’s also used so that we can confirm the One True Pairing (OTP) of Spock and Kirk in the original universe as with this one. Hence why I know it’s the same “relationship”. So I feel perfectly comfortable dragging it into my discussion of why that storyline bothered me in TOS.

Back in conversation, Chapel says that if McCoy had being trying to “get” her, he would have made her spar with Spock, who would have gone along for the benefit of a random nurse, why? But “Chris” says McCoy wouldn’t have done so anyway (maybe because Captain Spock wouldn’t have?).  And the doctor wouldn’t have done so because…shocker…Chapel admits she had a crush on the Captain!

The only difference in this universe is that Spock is Captain, and Chapel’s shown to get over it. I would say good for her, but…

At least it didn’t hurt anymore. If she’d once felt something for the Vulcan which she’d labeled as love, that misplaced emotion had been replaced with respect—and the knowledge that whatever fantasies she hand once entertained were not only illogical, but also impossible.

The last whole post was about how much I hate this much emphasis on this trope, and I think some of this will be too, because the entire point of the conversation is to make clear no one will be sad when Kirk and Spock are finally united into their OTP. But I really want to quote the whole thing, because it is soooo stilted, and so entirely geared towards that point.

So yes, the entire point of the conversation is to show how Christine Chapel can acknowledge that she had ‘feelings’ for Spock that weren’t returned. She naturally sensed the “loneliness” in him, but all along knew in her heart that he was looking for that Special Someone and she sincerely hopes he will be happy.

  1. I never liked the ‘Chapel crushes on Spock’ storylines in TOS in the first place because she came across like a stalker—why is it supposed to be funny and why didn’t anyone do anything? The situation makes them both uncomfortable and she’s pathetic.** I hate saying it, because as a nurse on the flagship of Starfleet she ought to be a strong, competent character. But instead, as a recurring female character she is forced into a ‘comedic’ role of the lovesick girl. I know I’m supposed to wholeheartedly support and justify my gender no matter what they do, but why couldn’t Uhura pull her aside and tell her to get some self respect!?
  2. Isn’t there such a thing as friendship anymore?

No, no there isn’t. This seems to be a fanon idea—or ideal?—

“I thought I sensed a loneliness in Spock.” She laughed wistfully. “And maybe I was naïve enough to believe I was the cure.” She shrugged, not looking at the other woman. “But when I finally understood what it means to be a Vulcan…that’s when I understood that Spock can’t allow himself to become too close to anyone.”

But she wondered if that was really the answer. There had been moments when the Vulcan had been tender, even warm with her. But she consigned those times back into the past as the barely readable smile returned.

So even though she recognizes Spock’s affection for her, he still can’t be too close to anyone. Ever. Even though he’s been wandering across the galaxy hoping to find his One True Love and his father’s disowned him, and she doesn’t have feel ‘that way’ for him anymore she sure isn’t going to lend him a shoulder to cry on. If it isn’t romantic than you don’t have a true relationship, so there’s just no point.

Somewhat justified as in this universe he’s captain, and there’s lots of theories that the captain can’t socialize with the crew, but Jim still had Bones (as well as Spock) in TOS, so why, in this AU, can’t Spock talk to anyone? Because for an example of a captain who doesn’t seem to have had any true confidants? Like Pike, who had a Vulcan to drag him off to a forbidden planet to act out pure fantasies never contacting reality again—because once the Enterprise left, he’s still effectively broken and alone. Wait! There’s a pretty lady there too, even though he doesn’t actually know her. I’m sorry, romantic love does not heal all wounds, it really doesn’t. It reduces the complexity that original works (and sometimes great fanfic) allow.

Effectively the entire seven pages is devoted to nothing more than Chapel blessing this union.

Also? She’s entirely selfish. Dragging the scene back into the plot, Chapel swoons to an echo of the original universe. Which most of the characters have. And S’Parva recognizes it as such. She reminds Chapel that this could be a bad thing. It’s happening to others in the crew, maybe we can figure it out!

And despite the fact that S’Parva was right, the though of four medical department heads—and the captain—psychoanalyzing her subconscious images caused her skin to crawl. Nothing incriminating, she thought. Just damned embarrassing! Images, yes. But…of what? First Officer Spock? She shivered. Easily enough explained—at least in her own case. Straight out of the textbooks. Knock him down in rank a few points. Make him easier to attain. The red heat crawled higher into her cheeks. No point dredging up restless—and unreachable—spirits. And the dizziness came again, refusing to leave her alone. She smiled to herself. It would be her secret…no matter what.

But instead: We could save the ship! but I’ve had embarrassing thoughts that are already totally obvious to the rest of the ship! No—let the ship burn!

Urg.

*Should this be creäture? ‘Cause this is English, I’m pretty sure, and English has used creature for a good long time.

**I have this problem with most of the canon characters fan fiction writers use as pairings for Spock, and for that matter, canon parings. During the original series almost all of his “love interests” occurred when he was somehow impaired. Spores=date rape drugs? This is disturbing subtext.

Brothers-in-Arms: or, Your Definition is Different than Mine

The Star Trek fanzine Spockanalia contained th...

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That missing date of the 3rd from my update schedule will haunt me for the rest of my days. Or at least what days I actually see the update calendar on my main page of that month. And assuming I can keep my posting on-track otherwise. But, hey, fell asleep before I could even write my post; there was nothing to be done.

Now:

The Real Part 1 of the Killing Time review, spork, or whatever this actually is, because I don’t know what to call it. “Random-thoughts-and-notes-taken-during-the-reading-of-the-book-which-may-or-not-be-relevant-or true-but-drive-me-nuts-nevertheless” perhaps.

I started rereading this today, because I hadn’t picked the thing up since I made my original notes (but I had to because it’s very hard to finish ‘reviewing’ a book that you haven’t actually read), but had to start from the beginning to, well, get back in the spirit if you will. And promptly made more notes. One-and-a-half, actually. Although at least they are in cursive, and I have very large handwriting in cursive. For instance, I found quotes like this, from page 3 (remember, the first printing):

[Kirk] felt the familiar telepathic door swing open between himself and the Vulcan. It was something which had formed between them over the years, something which had saved their lives countless times and made them brothers.

Firstly, that “telepathic door”. Does that bother anyone else? It’s just such a…dull, but stupid, image. Too physical a metaphor for the situation perhaps: suddenly I realize I’ve never actually minded the “silver thread” of mindlinks before—although talking to a friend who actually reads much more fantasy than I do, this appears to be a fanon thing for Star Wars than fantasy itself. And why is the door telepathic, and how does that help Kirk? Talk to the doooor, Spock….

Also, those “which”s should be “that”s. Or something.

This does however lead me to the two points that I really wanted to make in this part one. Actually, first I only had one, which relates to the title, but the second is also important, and leads to the first. So I suppose it should be first anyway.

So. One thing that really stood out to me on second reading—which was actually, I think, the reason I was so bothered in the first place to start this project—was the characterizations of the characters. Now, this may be somewhat silly of me, but I have higher standards for franchise-published stories pulled from existing canon, and actual fan fiction, which doesn’t really have to hold to any standards, primarily because it’s completely unauthorized. At least the published stuff is reviewed by ‘officials’.

Not that I’m objecting to fan fiction. For one, I read an awful lot of it, and fortunately have a clear distinction between what I can expect there as, well, practically a media in itself, versus other my other reading, even in genre fiction.

But in fan fiction there’s a curious thing that develops called “fanon”. It’s like canon, which is to say, the information from, in this case Star Trek: TOS. Fandom, however, takes from these facts and builds on them, and since there wouldn’t be a name for fan fiction unless it’s shared, fans themselves create information to, usually, fill in gaps. For instance, I’ve heard that Uhura was never given a first name by the show, but somehow, because so many fans use “Nyota”, official Trek eventually used in a movie—thereby making ‘fanon’, canon. But fan-made-facts don’t become canon unless it becomes accepted by a significant portion of fandom. After which point, most newer/younger/less dedicated fans may not even realize it isn’t canon, but have made it part of their experience of canon. (Writing this paragraph has made me feel like such a geek.)

The most blatant version of this in my experience is in the fanfiction.net (known for its total lack of quality control) section for Lord of the Rings. Naturally, the place got a huge boost when the movies came out, and as I was reading in high school—forgive me! I’d seen the movies maybe once, and never quite finished the trilogy, no matter how much I loved The Hobbit in fourth grade. Frankly, many characters are, well, not resembling any character of the original books, nor, particularly the characters in the movies. Especially the elven twins Elladan and Elrohir (do I actually remember that?). They aren’t in the movies, and have the tiniest part in the books as I recall, but in the stories I followed they were joke-y like the Weasley’s and great friends with Legolas—who had naturally been bestest of best friends with Aragorn for some unspecified length of time. And many of those stories were pretty good. But totally, completely, fanon.

Killing Time uses heavily ‘fanon’ versions of both Kirk and Spock.

They’re positively cuddly, for one, although I can hardly count that as it was supposed to be edited out (although I don’t know how far). But mainly, it’s the feeling of the characters. Neither acts like the Kirk or Spock who you see on the show: for instance “[Kirk] reached across the table…’I know it’s an inconvenience to your Vulcan logic to have this link with a human, but just tell me!’ But the gentle smile robbed the words of any harsh implications.” That might not be the best example, mostly because it’s such an over-arching issue, but it does get across how blatant the author wanted to make their relationship, any relationship. No subtlety here.

But because of the fanon ‘slash’ version of this relationship, the overtness is taken for granted. That doesn’t mean the author doesn’t try to show how close they are through other words, however. Like in other slash fandoms, the insistence in calling them brothers.

Back up to that first quote, paraphrased “the door that made them brothers. Or years, whatever. Why do so many slash writers, especially those transforming close friends into couples, insist on describing them like brothers? Or as close as brothers? Now, maybe it’s because I have two brothers that it bugs the heck out of me. Because I know what interactions these stories draw from: the good-natured squabbling, similar tastes, and in-jokes. My brothers do that. So yeah, creepy. Why don’t they ever think of the to-be significant other as “a spouse, but without the nagging”? Which, sexist, yeah, but not so creepy.

Other characters will also comment on the brotherly love going on, in this case, McCoy.

“When you go to sleep, the little boy in you needs someone to relate to—and that little boy automatically chooses Spock—sort of a big-brother figure for your dreams.”

Now, a sophisticated argument might say that such other characters can’t see past their assumptions to the true UST and are making excuses for the characters’ closeness, or falsely identifying the relationship. I’m not seeing much an argument from that, though we’ve only seen McCoy this once. And a threesome would be too much, so I think we can safely conclude that the primary reason for this Freudian metaphor is to ‘prove’ how much they love each other.

Which, no. As soon as you call them ‘like brothers’. Yeech. Is it something to do with maybe people having fewer siblings anymore? Is it because families no longer stay together as adults—you grow up and move out and therefore are only supposed to see your siblings no more than to stay a week every couple years if they’re far away, or drop by for dinner every couple weeks if close? I don’t know, but this trend is disturbing, and not even the same way as deliberate incest or twincest or Wincest or any of the other disturbing combinations that such fans have come up with. At least they know what they’re doing.

New LanguAge

I was reading the school paper, and perused a commentary on how students on campus use language in this age of information. As an English major, I approve.

The author, as I recall, blamed the breakdown of intelligent communication on the text messaging language as it creeps into the spoken.  Many people do. I’m not sure I don’t. In fact, I was surprised at myself when I first read the article, because at first I found myself rolling my eyes. I don’t appreciate the careless use of language. Using text speak in actual speech is always ridiculous–unless used satirically. Or maybe even just used humorously. But I must admit, sometimes I have at least thought “WTF” when watching/hearing something so utterly stupid that I can’t spare the mental time to think the whole phrase–and, hey, it’s not really cursing. And there are plenty of words invented by the internet* that I genuinely  appreciate. Sheeple. Kerfluffle. Angsting.

Perhaps it’s careless to use new words, when a careful enough revision of my own writing or thoughts might be able get the same feeling across using ‘traditional’ English. But then again, as the Facebook “Flair” button says “English: A language that lurks in dark alleys, beats up other languages, and rifles through their pockets for spare vocabulary,”** which I’m quite sure is stolen from someone who does not get nearly enough credit…but when you say something that awesome on the internet you tend to lose your fame for it very quickly.  Anyway, when English doesn’t have the perfect one, it tends to fill the vacuum with something new or borrowed (and sometimes blue, I’m sure). Thus I justify my internet speak.

So when I first read the article, I thought: well, really, why not use text speak in casual conversation? I’d greatly appreciate if you do so out of my hearing, but if your group understands the language, you may as well. So long as your formal communications–to someone outside of your social circle, or in written communications other than texts or possibly tweets. And if you have any acquaintances (or especially coworkers/bosses) as Facebook friends, don’t use text speak in status updates.  Nonetheless, I do feel  it has a place.

Then again, pretty much as soon as I found myself making the argument above, I realized–the problem is people don’t seem to be able to distinguish when it might be appropriate and when it definitely isn’t.

I remember, in high school, I read two ‘paragraphs,’ each written by a one person attending detention. Okay, so I couldn’t have been expecting much, but still, these would have been written in an academic context, not to mention that it was displayed on the whiteboard. Each, though, were equally terrible. You’d think they’d never learned how to write…which I suspect they did, as they had that ‘valley-girl’ handwriting, one even adorned with hearts.

And, despite the fact that I am now in my third senior semester at college, each of my professors, after the first essay assignment, still have to go over the most basic tenets of writing. For instance: spelling. When I first started college and heard this lecture, I was horrified. It was like, really people? this is college. The fact that it was a community college makes now difference. Now at least I’ve gotten used to it, though I am still saddened. While I’d like to think that people ought to be able to adjust their language based on the situation….apparently, no.

I don’t know how to solve this. I refuse to submit to writing text speak in my essays or talk to my mom that way–she doesn’t even use the computer, much less would have any idea what I’m talking about (although she is rather proficient at reading my mind when I’m particularly incoherent.)  You know what I think? I think that we should just disallow those people who can’t tell the difference to participate in any meaningful communication, because they aren’t capable of doing so anyway. First amendment be damned.

*Okay, so the internet itself didn’t actually develop the language, but it’s such a facilitator, it seems to make the spread rather faster and more creative. I likes it.

**Possibly James Nicholl, actually: “The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.”  Apparently he’s mostly an Internet personality, as opposed to being famous offline, which I find rather appropriate.

What to Call Faith

From the outside, I’m not sure that people would have thought of my home, growing up, as “religious.” For one thing, the word “religious” itself seems to have a rather negative connotation for us enlightened modern people. We know better now. People often seem to think of “Religious” as Puritanism or Evangelism. One’s from growing up and having to wear silly hats in kindergarten and the other is from watching too much media “news” and infomercials. And in my (parents’) house, we don’t have crosses/crucifixes on every wall, or whatever else religion in the home is supposed to look like. One of the cars did have an ichthys (“Jesus fish”) though. And we always had plenty of Bibles.

At any rate, I was raised in the Christian faith. To believe in God, however you chose to worship. My brother is Baptist. My aunt and uncle are Catholic. Like my mom, I am Presbyterian. At least I think I am. It’s hard to be “religious” (read “believe”) in this current culture. Christianity is seen as the province of the crazy conservative Rightists. Or maybe my mind is making it up. Or maybe, to a certain extent it’s the college atmosphere. Or maybe it’s because I personally have had trouble finding my faith. After leaving home to go to community college in Southern CA (my home county didn’t have a community college) I pretty much stopped attending church. So there might be some lingering guilt. There are lots of distractions in modern life. It’s easy to form idols: out of celebrities, money, grades. Science. Believing is not easy, and it’s not supposed to be.

So when Perry Garfinkel, in Buddha or Bust, tried to convince the head priest of Rinsoin (a Zen Buddhist temple) Hoitsu Suzuki that Americans have imbedded what he called “Judeo-Christian” traditions in their/our culture as thoroughly as Japan has Buddhism because

“Yes, we look to God,” I said. “God is there even in our casual language. We say, ‘God bless you,’ when you sneeze. We say, ‘Thank God that truck didn’t run me over.’ We say ‘God damn it’ when we stub our toe when Matsui strikes out.”

And when Suzuki-roshi responds “‘Who is this God you keep talking about?’” Garfinkel sees it as a revelation. He sees that “Belief in God is perpetuated suffering.” He is enlightened.

I really want to quote the whole thing now. And this section wouldn’t irritate me so much if it wasn’t couched in such universal terms. It’s evident that Garfinkel doesn’t have a strong personal belief to defend. For instance, his use of the phrase “Judeo-Christian” traditions. He has said that he was raised in a Jewish household, although I don’t think he mentioned how strongly traditional they were. However, you can’t compare “Judeo-Christian” traditions to a single religion like Buddhism. In a high school history class, when asked what was the largest religion, “Christianity” without the “Judeo-” attached, couldn’t be the answer. It included too many religions to be considered one religion.

I think what Garfinkel is enlightened to is his own lack of belief. And perhaps when he discusses his (personal) enlightenment in universal terms, it’s simply habit because he is a journalist. At the very least, I suspect Suzuki-roshi was certainly responding to Garfinkel’s lack of personal faith. Garfinkel (in one of the more problematic sections, for me) writes “That in itself may be the reason we invent God, because it is easier to point the finger than to take the blame,” which is certainly not why I choose to believe, and he then calls his own comments in his conversation a “pointless game of intellectual masturbation.”

The way he’s been talking? Yes, it is. Suzuki-roshi notices. It’s a careless argument. Garfinkel, up to this point, doesn’t seem to realize that he doesn’t believe. His “faith” and the faith on the part of our culture that he tries to evidentiate through empty phrases like “God bless you,” are not real. They’re habits. Left over from people who grew up around religion but never found “it” themselves. That’s how language works.

It’s not how faith works. And I think Garfinkel was fortunate that someone finally pointed out the difference to him.