Sunday, January 4, 2009

this is an anthem for the risk of loving you

What a difference a day makes.

Times have changed,
And we've often rewound the clock,
Since the Puritans got a shock,
When they landed on Plymouth Rock.
If today,
Any shock they should try to stem,
'Stead of landing on Plymouth Rock,
Plymouth Rock would land on them.

Mr. Leafblade Dagger addresses why simple etiquette is so important. Otenth Paderborn, Jarl of Orcadia, speaks out on the value of community, virtual or real. Sir Edward Pearse gathers other bloggers' posts together, including Miss Laval's post on her largest pet peeves in group chats (above and beyond Caledon), and Miss Rhianon Jameson's putting forth of a set of simple edicts of her own.

In olden days a glimpse of stocking
Was looked on as something shocking,
But now, God knows,
Anything Goes.

Duchess Gabrielle Riel weighs in with some of the reasons she left Caledon, and Duchess Diamanda Gustafson makes it march.

And Miss Hypatia Callisto calls me out, in essence, which was hardly necessary.

Good authors too who once knew better words,
Now only use four letter words
Writing prose, Anything Goes.

All right. So there's been much chatter, and most of it good, and I'm glad of that; if my little tiff on ISC will provoke anything even remotely concerning common decency on channel, it will be vilifying (of me) well done indeed.

If driving fast cars you like,
If low bars you like,
If old hymns you like,
If bare limbs you like,
If Mae West you like
Or me undressed you like,
Why, nobody will oppose!
When every night,
The set that's smart
Is intruding at nudist parties in studios,
Anything Goes.

I always thought Robert Heinlein put it best in his book Friday, that the two steady and constant earmarks of a sick culture, a civilization in decline, are the identification with the group, over the country, and the increase in personal rudeness:

"High taxation is important and so is inflation of the currency and the ratio of the productive to those on the public payroll. But that's old hat; everybody knows that a country is on the skids when its income and outgo get out of balance and stay that way--even though there are always endless attempts to wish it way by legislation. But I started looking for little signs and what some call silly-season symptoms.

"I want to mention one of the obvious symptoms: Violence. Muggings. Sniping. Arson. Bombing. Terrorism of any sort. Riots of course--but I suspect that little incidents of violence, pecking way at people day after day, damage a culture even more than riots that flare up and then die down. Oh, conscription and slavery and arbitrary compulsion of all sorts and imprisonment without bail and without speedy trial--but those things are obvious; all the histories list them."

"Friday, I think you have missed the most alarming symptom of all."

"I have? Are you going to tell me? Or am I going to have to grope around in the dark for it?"

"Mmm. This once I shall tell you. But go back and search for it. Examine it. Sick cultures show a complex of symptoms such as you have named...but a dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot."


"Pfui. I should have forced you to dig it out yourself; then you would know it. This symptom is especially serious in that an individual displaying it never thinks of it as a sign of ill health but as proof of his/her strength."
--Friday and Dr. Baldwin in Friday

When Missus Ned McLean (God bless her)
Can get Russian Reds to "yes" her,
Then I suppose
Anything goes.
When Rockefeller still can hoard
enough money to let Max Gordon
Produce his shows,
Anything goes.

What do (most) of the blog posts seem to agree on? Gosh, we'd really like it if we could bring back personal niceness to Caledon. Why is this such a horrifying proposition? Using "Miss" or "Mister" (forget the complicated ethos of titles for now and what may or may not be roleplay in the first place; that's too tangled a topic at present); saying "Excuse me" or "Pardon me" when you bump into someone. Just that. Just that alone could help so much. Why is this wrong?

The world has gone mad today,
And good's bad today,
And black's white today,
And day's night today,
And that gent today
You gave a cent today
Once had several chateaux.
When folks who still can ride in jitneys
Find out Vanderbilts and Whitneys
Lack baby clothes,
Anything goes.

"In any free society, the conflict between social conformity and individual liberty is permanent, unresolvable, and necessary."
--Kathleen Norris, novelist

Think of it this way: Caledon is an engine. When it works, it works swimmingly. It hums, the workers are happy, it is productive, it chugs along. It does its job, and does it well.

But when it fails to do this, when it falters, it grows more difficult to use the engine effectively. The workers become unhappy and overstressed. It is harder to get the engine to aspire to great heights (and commensurate great depths) because it is harder for the engine to function.

If Sam Goldwyn can with great conviction
Instruct Anna Sten in diction,
Then Anna shows
Anything goes.

Now. Think of manners as social lubrication, keeping everything moving, easily. Fine, forget titles; perhaps we're moving away from a titled peerage, from Laird Brideswell and her Lyonesse and Lady Amber and Lady Serra, into the days of Gabi and Eva, Kami and Elrik, and if that's what everyone wants, I am far from the sole arbiter in this, I don't have any power to enforce.

But wouldn't it be better to keep first names to your close friends? Keep at least Mr. Merlin, Miss Hauptmann, Miss Anansi? Or by invitation: I have Edward's permission to call him Edward. Though I defer to titles first, if I wanted, I have her Lyonesse's permission for "Kami". All of us have Des' permission to use Des, to keep things unembroidered, simple, clean.

When you hear that Lady Mendel standing up
Now turns a handspring landing up-
On her toes,
Anything goes.

"A human group transforms itself into a crowd when it suddenly responds to a suggestion rather than to reasoning, to an image rather than to an idea, to an affirmation rather than to proof, to the repetition of a phrase rather than to arguments, to prestige rather than to competence."
--Jean-Francois Revel

The thing is, retaining simple manners doesn't mean you're going to be locked in a teahouse and beaten when you don't raise the right finger from your teacup. It simply means that--"Sir", "Madam" (or Miss); or "Miss Someone", "Mr. Someone". This seems to be what most people (blogging people, at least) want. Isn't that a good thing?

Just think of those shocks you've got
And those knocks you've got
And those blues you've got
From those news you've got
And those pains you've got
(If any brains you've got)
From those little radios...

"If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning."
--Catherine Aird

"If I can serve as nothing else," I've said, over and over again, "I can serve as an example of What Not to Do." At the very least, in the end, that much is still true: and I'll likely say it again in future. I am not the example of shining moral behavior; I am not the silver-winged seraph bearing news of Caledonian redemption.

Really. I'm not. It's not me. This isn't even a purely Caledonian blog, the which I've pointed out more than once. But what it is, what it generally serves as--when it isn't the hotbed of discussion it's been for the past few days--is my small corner of the grid where I discuss things of interest to those of a more vintage temperment; truly creative builds; odd places I wander through; and yes, notes on simple behavior.

It was all these things before I posted what I did, before I said what I said in ISC chat.

I was all these things before that. Neither of us has changed.

So Missus R., with all her trimmin's,
Can broadcast a bed from Simmons
'Cause Franklin knows
Anything goes!

"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life."
--Winston Churchill

I'd only say one last thing. I find after considerable thought that I am still discomfited on Miss Callisto's o'er-personal attack. So let me speak this, and speak it plainly: and this time, gentles all, do listen to what I say, before engaging in the next friendly chair-tossing contest.

I have not now, in this debate, nor in the past, in all my time in and out of Caledon on the grid, ever--and I do mean that, ever--taken Miss Callisto to task for her attire, her attitude, her manner of speech, her level of intelligence, her knowledge of fashion, her abilities as a builder, her philosophical outlook, her experience, the breadth and depth of her knowledge, or her appearance. I have not done this, in this journal, nor have I done this in ISC chat.

In fact, on several occasions I have praised her. I think she does things with prims and sculpts that I can't even dream of. I think she can walk around a script three times and make it bark. I've been happy to see her at events, complimented her, and I don't think I've ever done these things disingenuously.

So back it down a bit, guys. Please. I am not gunning for her head on a pike, this is not the first time we've disagreed. This is just the first time I had utterly no idea why she's so wroth with me.

(Lyrics taken, of course, from the Cole Porter song--and musical--but specifically from the Fallout 3 version.)


Eladrienne Laval said...

As my original post is on my regular SL blog and not the 19th c.-themed "Stroll", it is actually how I felt about large group chats in general--not just Caledon's--as I was talking about certain trends across the board. Summarizing it as my "largest pet peeves in ISC chat", isn't quite accurate (although some things apply). Thanks.

Emilly Orr said...

It's a valid point, and I thank you. It's been corrected.

It's also worth the pointing out--because you do have two blogs, representing your adventures both in and out of Caledon. I have the one; I've heard some quibbles the past few days that I can't possibly be serious about breaches of etiquette when I've cursed in this blog, when I've posted about nineteenth-century matters one day, twenty-first century matters the next. I think that's definitely missing the point.

It's also good to note that you're reflecting a trend-at-large; but to be fair, what we roll our eyes over and just deal with in other groups, is especially jarring in ISC, because of the emphasis (I thought, at least) on Victorian and Edwardian social mores.