Dharma Beatdown

Chillin' by the Hell-realm water cooler.

Haters: Eat a bag of dicks

You know, as a man of very modest intellectual powers, and as an artist, a disciple of philosophy, and lover of mental stimulation, I must confess to a certain desire. I want to argue. I want to debate, to exchange barbs and quips and bon mots, to engage in some mutual shit-talking or a healthy round of the Dozens. Unfortunately, like some jaded gourmand with limited restaurant choices at hand, or a libertine who can sense the inhibitions that lock every sweaty curve away from him, I realize that it is not easy to get what I want. Most people are not up to the task. They assume that the idea of conflict, of opposition, is a negative one, and in their shallow understanding, their fear, we see a crude mimicry of the graceful forms that aesthetic debate can be. The haters- these rude commentators- are like untaught martial artists angry that the master has effortlessly counted coup on them, now losing control and striking out to wound.

But just as these martial tyros end up on the floor, embarassed and unharmed, so the haters are going to get called out for their bullshit. I’ve tried to be nice, to make allowances for ignorance, but at this point it’s not helping anyone. These haters are absolute shitheads, and they’re not even good at it.

In Zen, we have a concept called ‘dharma combat.’ It is from this idea that I took the name of the blog. Simply explained, dharma combat is some combination of masters and senior students engaging in dialogue to test each others’ understanding and experience. Its nature is variable. The dialogue can run from cryptic to mundane, the language can be refined or scatological, and dharma combat can end in tears, laughter, frustration, or enlightenment. But as I have opined already, it is not for the rank novice. I’d like to take dharma combat as a model for modern oppositional discourse and critical response, with the idea that everyone can join in eventually and no whiny pee-pee pants get their feelings hurt.

Now, on to the good stuff.

In a previous post I critiqued, honestly, a local band. It turns out that they are good friends of my little brother’s, so I know I can’t be accused of cronyism. As can be easily read in the comments to that post, a representative of another local band responded in a rude and childish way to this criticism. The commentator was friends with the first band, and they play together, so I will call cronyism on her. My response was sharp, yet I tried to retain some humility and harmony, and I further went on to make a seperate post reviewing her band in an honest and actually flattering way. Make note- the important thing here is honesty, to yourself and the rest of the world. We’ll come back to that. The point is, I have been really good to these people.

So now that the ashes are cold, along comes some anonymous douchebag to have a go at me. I’m starting to feel like Gene Wilder’s character in “Blazing Saddles,” laying my guns down undefeated and then getting shot in the ass by some young punk. Let’s take his comment apart bit by bit, together, shall we.

Anonymous said…

Well, there’s your first red flag. If this douche had really wanted me to understand his points, or to initiate some sort of dialogue, he would’ve at least left some way for me to contact him, instead of hiding behind the Intarweb anonymity that so perfectly matches his mediocrity. At least use a fake name with a dump email attached. I’m sure Eazy-E had a PO Box for Dr. Dre to send letters to in between albums.

welcome to the northwest. it gets chilly so people put on a flannel.

First off, already in the Northwest. Been here 18 years and counting. Your point? And my point, with the flannel, was that it was obviously a fashion choice, and a poor one. It looked like crap, and IT WAS JULY. The opposite of chilly. I used to wear a suit and trenchcoat at gigs sometimes. That was silly. But there were gigs where we all wore hipwaders, or we all wore masonic robes. It was part of the overall aesthetic. People wondered what crazy shit these guys were going to have on. While the flannel might have matched the WIBG aesthetic, nobody told the bass player that. So I don’t see any consistency.

you attacking some guy for his body type/ appearance is pathetic.

Show me the attack. I reviewed the performance, which I liked overall, and talked about the parts of it that bothered me. That’s my prerogative. I am the one putting my opinion out there. Everyone has an opinion. Anyone can express it inarticulately over PBR with their hangers-on or in an anonymous web post. But to expose your opinion for every douchebag with an aggregator, and to do it in a consistent and philosophically honest way that leaves you open and vulnerable- that’s hard. One could easily say that the singer of WIBG doesn’t say anything bad about me, so why pick on him? Well, that’s kind of the point. He behaves in an extraordinary manner (getting on stage, using affected mannerisms), which takes courage, but if it had come off as being beneficial instead of detrimental to him and his band, I would have applauded him in an extraordinary manner instead of riffing on him in one. I don’t know the guy, there is nothing personal in it. And if he wants to check out my band and review it, he’s welcome to. I would hope that his criticism would display as much integrity and dedication as mine does. Criticism is egalitarian. Anyone can do it. It’s even easier these days, but we must set the bar higher.

and, judging by yr comment to ms hatkin, it seems like you need to ditch the ego bullshit

Well, you sir cannot judge by my comment because you clearly did not comprehend it. I don’t believe you read my followup post either. I assume by ‘ditching the ego bullshit’ you mean me talking about myself and what I’ve done. Well, you may recall, had you actually understood the things you read, that she challenged me with “WHO ARE YOU?” I did not take that as rhetorical. The rest of her comment seemed to indicate that I was not an artist myself, but a soulless critic lambasting other people out of feelings of inadequacy for being able to do what they do. I responded to that challenge. Not only is the field of criticism enriched by the experience of its practitioners, I feel that the sterotype of the cloistered, hateful critic is unfair. Do you want a realtor who’s never bought a house? A doctor who’s never been sick? Neither of those examples stay in business very long. Speaking in a strictly reductivist fashion, I believe that academic criticism that is uninformed by experience ends up as a fruitless discussion of qualia. Which sucks. Like you, Anonymous. Stop giving ‘ego’ a bad name. For better or worse, without ego there would be no human consciousness, and we don’t need to ditch the ego, simply reconcile it.

quit explaining how yr projects are more legit than ‘hipster’ trends and ahead of some imaginary cultural curve

Don’t put words in my mouth, motherfucker! If you’re going to come up with your own ill-informed meanings for my statements, then use your own ‘I’ statements. Don’t be a coward. And if you are going to be a coward, at least don’t be complete-ass wrong. My explanation of my own projects’ legitimacy is a response to Ms. Hatkin’s prejudicial attempt to discredit me. Her own statements about how hard it is to play her style of music in a town that loves it are incorrect, at best. If I am independent of ‘some imaginary cultural curve,’ not ahead of it as you say, then it only signals my freedom from faddishness and my ability to have a broader perspective. And someone in this dialogue definitely needs to have that.

go back to buddha for some enlightenment.

Oh, snap! This was what set it off for me. I have to wonder, since you are clearly so insensitive and intolerant, do you tell aboriginal people to “Go back where they came from?” Do you really want to go there? Atheism is a core doctrine of Zen Buddhism, and like pretty much everyone in the world I was born an atheist. Remaining one makes me one of the last officially persecuted minorities in this country. Is that what you want, to make religiously inflammatory comments without any clue of what you’re talking about? Again, you did not try to initiate a dialogue with me, but made a foolish drive-by comment without any sort of class or grace or wisdom. All this- the art, the learning, the critique, the philosophy, is part of my yearning towards enlightenment. I don’t need to go back to the Buddha for that.

And that’s that. Ignorant motherfuckers need to chill. Or, step up. And thanks to Louie CK for the title of the post. I’m not stealing your act, don’t kill me, man…

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5 Comments»

  Eriq Nelson wrote @

Anonymous commenting is the cowards way and derails the conversation into meaningless drivel. It’s got about as much value as Youtube comments, world reknowned for being utter shit.Feel justified in having lain a hater quite bare for all the world to see. I highly recommend removing the option for Anonymous comments. It reduces the amount of useless trash and spam that shows up on blog posts and anyone that doesn’t have an OpenID by now probably doesn’t have a lot to contribute to the dialogue.Case in point.Know that I will always argue with you, and gleefully so. I am reminded of the words of my hero, Captain Malcom Reynolds.”You don’t know me very well, son, so let me put this to you plainly…if I ever kill you, you’ll be awake, you’ll be facing me, and you’ll be armed.”

  t wiggins wrote @

i was the anonymous comment.some friends of mine told me about this really funny blogger vs autopilot post. i read it. maybe i didn’t spend enough time on it to get exactly what you were trying to say. i wasn’t posting anonymously as some cowardly thing, i just didn’t realize that there is so much etiquette in blog culture…i didn’t mean to be making “religiously inflammatory” comments either, i just find that meditation and reading zen philosophy leaves me feeling a little less aggro and maybe you could mellow out a little bit instead of hating so hard…. so my apologies if that came across wrong… full disclosure, i do know justin and and adrienne.i don’t love everything about their music though…criticism is fair, but i don’t understand the point of it if its mean-spirited.i’m sure you’ll have some paragraphs long retaliation to this, but i honestly just don’t care. you can hate on my music or my friend’s music or whatever you want to, i didn’t intend to make some off the cuff comment on a blog to get into any kind of serious debate. i actually wouldn’t have even read this post if i hadn’t found a link back to it on crappy indie music.what i should’ve included in that comment (along with my screen name i suppose) was that it all seemed pretty funny.take it or leave it.

  t wiggins wrote @

ups to eriq for quoting capt reynolds…

  Jess Gulbranson wrote @

Well, funny thing is Travis, I don't have anything 'mean-spirited' to say. Your contrition and apparent honesty is appreciated. Part of what set me off is that I really am not hating on them… if you read all of the original post, or my review of Autopilot, you'll see that I actually liked both bands. But that part gets ignored. Hey- this is Portland. My little bro knows Justin, you're in a band with him. My wife is friends with Adrienne and Paul- she used to hang out at their house all the time, even sang on a Builders & Butchers song. The web of interconnectedness is very complex. And of course, now that Coeur Machant is starting to come up as a band, I probably shouldn't be pissing off the PDX indie scene. Don't shit where you eat, right? But I say the things I say to get the honest ideas out there. It would be wrong not to. Was I little too aggro on Justin? Maybe. We're all big kids, though, and I've been pretty transparent about everything the whole way through. I appreciate you stepping up to the plate.

  Eriq Nelson wrote @

Validation! See, T Wiggins, you have an OpenID and something meaningful to contribute to dialogue.Blog etiquette follows the same norms as the rest of civil society. An anonymous comment is akin to running into a bar, shouting “YOU SUCK” and running off. A tip of the hat for coming back in and speaking up.As far as dialogue is concerened, that’s really the entire point of the blogging platform. It gives your readers a voice, makes it a conversation and that is why it is such a huge challenge to traditional media forms and a hell of a lot more rewarding.


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