Wednesday, November 23, 2005


I’ve been meaning to write this for some time, and although prompted in part by recent discussions I've witnessed elsewhere, it is not really a response to them so much as a musing in general about the Internet and criticism.

What follows is not a fully developed argument, nor is it directed at anyone in particular. It is more of a manifesto/list of theses that is informing my thinking about a lot of things at the moment (including, to various degrees, art/film criticism, teaching, evangelical Christianity, and the Internet).

So here goes:

1) Scorn is, increasingly, the default position of those engaged in public interactions or dialogues in virtual communities or subcultures.
2) It is easier to highlight flaws than practice virtues.
3) Scorn can be a shortcut for those seeking status or attention.
4) Scorn can be sincere or affected.
5) Affected scorn dilutes the impact of sincere scorn.
6) Because scorn is dismissive rather than engaging, it is an attractive position for those who feel inadequate or threatened.
7) Scorn often fails to give explanation or reason, or depends on vagaries, generalizations or assumptions that the speaker claims are self evident.
8) When questioned or challenged, scorn often dismisses the questioner as naïve or insincere.
9) Those who feel the most scorn are the quickest to point out and take offense at another’s.
10) Scorn is not always bad.
11) Because much of evangelical Christianity is so scornful of the world and its products (including its art), it will often cheer scorn or prefer it to other forms of interaction, criticism, or engagement.
12) Scorn rarely admits error, seldom accepts responsibility, and never apologizes.
13) Scorn is different from pessimism, introversion, cynicism, or dislike.
14) The opposite of scorn is not affinity, it’s humility.
15) Scorn becomes habitual very easily, and it is a very difficult habit to break.
16) Scorn can be found equally amongst intellectuals and anti-intellectuals.
17) Scornful people are suspicious of others.
18) Scorn finds it nearly impossible to hold its tongue. It must explain itself.