Circular firing squads

Elliot Milco at The Paraphasic has a very thoughtful post called “Freaking Out about the Church.” His argument begins,

But I’d like to suggest that accusations of people “flipping out” or “coming unhinged” are sometimes used not as diagnoses of real defects in authors or their works, but as ways of marginalizing certain ideas.  What are the standards for deciding that someone is “unhinged”?  How do we know that someone’s writing is “nuts”?  When is shrill polemic justified?

(Emphasis supplied.) He goes on to argue:

In a community which is on the margins by default, in which members are constantly confronting the mainstream, trying to explain themselves to it, and trying to reduce their separation from it, there is a silent question: Am I an extremist? Am I crazy? Have I gone beyond the pale?  Different people deal with these questions in their own way, depending on their temperaments and intellectual habits.  Some are truly indifferent to the matter.  A few bask in their marginality, always trying to flaunt the expectations of the mainstream.  But most set up little barriers in their mind.  They pick out someone a bit further out than them and say, “Oh no, I am not extreme, that group is extreme.  I am not irrational, that person is irrational.”  In this way the marginalized person often has more hostility for the slightly-more-marginal group, than for the mainstream which is much more distant from his own stance.

(Emphasis supplied.) You should read the rest at The Paraphasic. The conclusions are startling, and need to be taken seriously.

For our part, we think that, were times different, it would be perfectly acceptable to engage in intense debates, which occasionally involve flamboyant rhetoric. So-and-so’s gone off the deep end. So-and-so’s a crypto-Modernist. And so forth. Under these circumstances, however, it may be more reasonable—it may be more appropriate—to circle the wagons. Tradition is already as marginalized as it has been in a long time. Tradition-minded Catholics marginalizing other tradition-minded Catholics seems extraordinarily counterproductive.

Finding the gold seam

Pater Edmund Waldstein, O.Cist., writing at Sancrucensis, plugs an offshoot of Marrow devoted to Catholic blogs. It is a splendid service, not only because it aggregates our posts, but also because it represents one-stop shopping for people interested in the Catholic blogosphere. Obviously, we think that you, dear reader, should sit down first thing—with your morning coffee and Dunhill, of course—and read Semiduplex. But you could do a lot worse than starting your morning by perusing Marrow.

A comment on comments

We have, for the moment, disabled comments on Semiduplex. If we do activate them, we will institute pretty heavy moderation controls.

Our reasons for doing this are threefold:

  1. In 2015, almost everyone has as many outlets to express his or her opinion on a piece as he or she could want. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are but three of the options available to someone who wants to make a comment about a piece. The days of the good old combox being the first, best place to talk about a post are over.
  2. Comments frequently require close attention, which we, for a variety of reasons, are not well situated to provide. (This might change, and if it does, it would be an important factor in our reconsideration of our current comment position.)
  3. Comments often devolve either into pointless assent and affirmation of the original post or into nastiness of one kind or another. Neither outcome is especially desirable to us.

Also, it is far from clear that Semiduplex has any readers who wish to comment on posts.

A brief note at the beginning

Does a blog need a program or plan?

This blog—Semiduplex—is a personal project, and we do not anticipate that it will expand into anything else. Therefore, we do not think that it is necessary (or even desirable) to set forth a lengthy, detailed plan for Semiduplex. In past projects, furthermore, we have found that a detailed program, or even a precise focus, makes it easy to let a blog fall by the wayside. Invariably, one’s interests develop or one simply runs out of things to say, and having a plan makes it easier to drop the whole project than to admit that the plan no longer works. (This is, to be honest, why our most serious previous project failed.)

Therefore, we believe, at this point, that a more flexible approach will result in better results. However, we can say—with some confidence—that Semiduplex will address the following topics with some regularity: (1) the Catholic Church; (2) music, serious and otherwise; (3) literature, good and bad; and (4) movies. Nothing we say, however, on any of these topics should be considered authoritative, if for no other reason than we are not an authority.

We do not know whether a blog needs a plan. But Semiduplex doesn’t have one.