In the past few days, I find that I've been thinking more obsessively about these ideas, though unfortunately not terribly coherently. My mind jumps from one idea to the next before I've really made any progress on the first, so the body of my thoughts remains a half-formed tangle. But the pressure of the thinking is making me feel more of an urge to express myself. I resolve to try to chase down some of these ideas, squeeze them into something slightly more solid, and pin the results down here in my journal, at least until the urge stops prodding me.
If you read my journal, it would mean a lot to me if you'd take the time to tell me what you think about these ideas as I post them. It would mean even more if we could have back and forth discussions that would make me clarify my reasoning, realize where I'm missing the point, and possibly even move my thoughts in new directions. I beg your indulgence on a few points:
- First and foremost, please understand something about how my mind works. I am not asking you to just accept my opinions, or to only speak up when you agree, but you need to understand that if you do disagree, my initial reaction is to defend my position. My defense of my position is usually spirited, especially in person but to some extent also in on-line discussion. This frightens some people away and makes them not want to talk to me. I don't mean it that way. My intent is not to be personally hostile; I may be hostile to ideas that I violently disagree with but I don't mean to be hostile to the person I'm discussing with. In defending my point of view strongly, I'm trying to convince the other person to strengthen their own arguments, not to just give up. To some extent, I must admit, I do like to argue. But you may find that even though your continued argument on a point seems to make me more intransigent at the time, if we come back to the topic a week later, I have come around at least partway to your point of view. It takes time for me to realize I'm wrong, but once I realize it I will try to admit it. Bottom line: I'm still your friend even if we have disagree and even if the disagreement makes me yell about it. I hope you can see where I'm coming from, and yell back from time to time. Don't let me scare you away.
- Second, please accept that I am a lousy researcher and I am not good at remembering specific details like what source I learned a fact from. Please don't try to engage me in a contest of who can cite more more references. If you're any good at it, you will always win that game, because I'm not. The fact that you're better at citing references will not convince me that you're right. I will try to be arguing at the level of ideas that can be judged on their own merit, not on the basis of who else holds them.
- On a related note, please understand that I'm an agonizingly slow reader. Don't ask me to read a book on a subject to understand a point you bring up. Instead, try to summarize it yourself, or if you must refer me to someone else, refer me to a succint treatment in a web site. I hope you can see the difference between "not interested" and "not so fired up about the subject that I'll devote a whole month to reading the suggested treatise."
- If this venture goes the way I'm hoping, I will be writing frequently, hopefully about a post a day. If I let myself become picky about my writing, this will never happen; ergo, I am going to try to write relatively quickly and not go back and edit a lot. Bear with me. If what I post doesn't make sense, please try to point out where I lost you.
- By the same token, please don't set your own bar too high for comment quality. Of course, I'd love to see lots of insightful, immaculately written comments, but I'd rather see sloppy comments, as long as they have something to say, than no comments at all.