Re: grades

Michael J. Salvo (
Sat, 31 Aug 1996 16:41:15 -0600

At 05:11 PM 8/31/96 -0400, Jeffrey R Galin wrote:
> We find new ways of
>accerting our positions. I just wonder if this meant that we will always
>be trapped by these binaries. If so, isn't it likely that none of our
>expectations will ever be fulfilled? Isn't it likely that the ways we
>pose the problems determine teh possible solutions we can imagine, and the
>solutions never achieve what the radical rhetoric hoped to achieve? Isn't
>it also true that whether we are trapped linguistically or ideologically
>into our positions, we still ACT on a daily basis based on sets of
>institutional constraints that don't really match our politics? And,
>since we all know that the educational system is less than perfect and
>that it needs major reconceptualization, none of us are willing to allow
>the status quo to go unchallenged.

i find it interesting to find messages that were intended to go off-list
appearing on-list with mention that off-list participants wanted to continue
on-list. a curious email-list practice ... one in which i often find that
the best of messages often are threatened with audiences of two or three.

jeff's message, quoted in part above, falls into this catagory, but i don't
want to belabor that point now. instead, i wanted to address part of what
is contained here.

of course we take positions that contrast with the situation and with our
rhetorical opponents -- take jeff, nick, and marcy here as rhetorical
opponents which in no way implies that they should be enemies. if there
were some *objective* truth or reality to which we responded, which we fit
our ideas into, we would need to sharpen our razors and find the place our
ideas "belong" in some great chain of being. but we do not argue like that.

like our legal system (though not nearly as corrupt nor as stylized), we
engage each other as adversaries, comparing and contrasting our statements
against each others'. there is no "truth" to which we compare ourselves
(although claiming this is a rhetorical strategy that works for some), there
is no existing form into which we try to fit our values. instead, we're
engaged in relative discussion -- comapring each idea to each other idea,
seeking similarity and difference.

seems to me that we must always turn up the contrast on difference,
particularly in a fast-paced, temporal medium like email. state a case,
read response, clarify one's position, move on to the next issue. there
seems little opportunity to develop minescule difference.

so contrast and difference is over stated -- and unlike jeff, i don't see
this as a problem at all. as we find fractures -- places where we disagree
-- we closely examine and over-develop the argument that makes distinction.
it's a temporary exaggeration of a site of inquiry.

like a topographical map's mountains and valleyes, our differences are
increased tenfold for contrast so that the audience, the map's readers, can
see the differences between a mountain and a valley. scale is important here.

there is so much we agree on we must cafefully consider our differences.
overstatement -- as jeff calls it -- seems to me to be a necessary part of
an adversarial debate. we state our cases as strongly as we can, and try to
reach a compromise with which the community can survive.

under such constraints, and i'm saying this as someone who often finds
himself arguing the left-radical perspective, compromise doesn't seem a bad
thing. otherwise, we'd be unable to function as a community ... and we do,
because we continue to have insightful discussions.