May 8, 2008

New Voices and Blind Spots

Laura has a couple of interesting ideas going on at her blog. This post in particular raises some very interesting questions. First, "Can calm, intelligent discourse still be provocative? That's what I want to know." Then:
My interests here are twofold:
1) I'm joining in the call to arms to get some new voices in on the conversation, and
2) I am very curious to learn what are the posts (besides the arguments) that get people interested? That drive that ever elusive site traffic? I think devilvet posted some great ideas, and I'd love to see if more of that kind of post can get people talking. What does everyone else think? I'm interested to know.
I think now is a good time for me to elaborate what I mean by new voices.

Adam says it very succinctly here:
"As a big ol' alpha male I easily find myself wrapped up in the clashing debate style often seen on arts blogs."
This is what I'm getting at, and I think Laura's hinting at this too (Laura, please correct me if I presume too much). The initial question was about bringing new voices into theater blogosphere. To be specific:
The meme: enlist a new voice to join the theater blogging community - someone who brings a new perspective to the discussion of theater. Preferably one that is challenging to your own perspective. Some women, maybe, since they’re underrepresented?
This opened up a conversation about the way theater blogosphere frames a lot of discussions, and several people expressed their reluctance to participate because it often seems that the only valid way to communicate is through argument. And, whether people realize it or not, that way of framing discourse comes with its own problems, the primary one being how it marginalizes different ways of perceiving, understanding and expressing ideas and experiences.

Just as NYLADCHI (ha, I fit DC in there!) isn't the only place where good theater happens, argument isn't the only method of conversing. For instance, when it comes to giving an opinion about a show I've seen, I'm less interested in the conflict between "the whole truth and nothing but the truth" vs. "if you can't say something nice don't say nothing at all." I don't respond to that because I simply don't think of the issue that way. I tend to think in more open-ended ways, such as, "What do you do when someone you know does something that sucks?" or "How do you give constructive feedback?"

When I deal with the first style, it feels as though I have to respond in kind if I want to contribute. Since I often don't wish to - like I said, I'm more reflective than forceful - I remain silent. Before someone can take what I say out of context, there is nothing wrong with this. I'm not judging anyone who prefers this way of communicating. But, I am saying that if you want something different, you need to make room for it.

That's all I'm saying.


  1. "But, I am saying that if you want something different, you need to make room for it."

    How? How does one do that without jepordizing their own voice.

    I've been getting the whole..."we can have a vigorous debate without throwing insults at each other"...

    But, is it as simply as...stop behaving in an 'alpha male' way?

    Making room on the internet also sort of confuses feels like a mixed metaphor...

    So help me out here? I feel like you are attempting to address something bigger than how a half dozen folks growl a bit at each other...I am wrong?

    trying to understand

  2. I'll need a little time to think about it.

  3. I hate flame wars. I don't think they make interesting reading at all! I've spent more than a decade on the internet, on email lists before blogs, and I've seen too many of them. My blog is driven primarily by the attempt to respond thoughtfully to theatre in ways that can't be done in the msm, and to create a forum where other people can post = and disagree - in a place where their differences will be respected. That's what people respond to, and that's what drives traffic.

  4. devilvet,

    I've thought about it a lot, and I honestly can't answer your question. I'm not you, and I don't know to what extent you're interested in expanding your style.

    From what I've seen of you lately, I appreciate your taking time to actively listen (which is very important and most often missed) and respond thoughtfully to what "gentler" souls have to say.

  5. Well, sometimes a sincere shoulder shrug can be refreshing.

    Any question...what do you want to talk about? Do you want to talk about the obstacles you face when it comes to speaking or sharing or blogging...

    or is there something else you want to share?

    Because, If I'm hearing you...then I'd like for you to imagine your obstacles are no longer is just you and a keyboard and what you have to put up there.

    If gender or race is the subject...then embrace persist

    If avantism is your subject embrace persist...

    I encourage you actualize the sort of blogosphere you want.

    Whether or not I should have wanted a rough and tumble with Mr. Walters...well...we'll all have our opinion of that...but regardless I was able to do it one post, one comment at a time.

    You can do, it you wanted an invitation from others who have been at it for a have gotten that right? Regardless of how any of us seems Nick, Allison, Scott, myself have been open to hear...other too I am sure.

    So what is your next post going to be about? Butoh? Civility? Race? I'm all ears...

  6. Not sure yet. I'm probably going to talk about writing.

  7. "Well, sometimes a sincere shoulder shrug can be refreshing."

    Exactly, dv. When you don't know the answer, ask a better question. That's exactly what prompted me to ask three questions of good ol' RVC here in response to what was for me a really enigmatic comment.

    I'm digging this. I think conversations about conversations are in the air right now, which does get tiring, but it's an important time to practice discussing identity. I think Obama's speech on race - whatever you happen to think of it, I thought it was dead on - touched off a wave of thinking about HOW we identify and relate to one another as individuals. It's decades or hundreds of years overdue depending on where you're coming from.

    Someone in On the Media coined an excellent phrase which describes for me precisely what I love about seeing theater that I had nothing to do with: xenophilia. Love of the unknown, love of the other. An appreciation for unwrapping and endeavoring to understand alternate viewpoints. Including your own.

    You're right on about the shoulder shrug, dv. I often approach my own writing voice with some level of confusion. I don't know what I think, and I express that confusion whenever possible. Sometimes it makes my statements sound weak, and sometimes it makes them sound impenetrable, because it's hard to undermine complete honesty. (Not that I'm honest all the time... but when I am, I give voice to my confusion. As you both are. Which I applaud.) I think questions are a good tactic for the meek, because it pushes dialogue forward without inviting attack.

    It's nice to make these connections with you individuals. It's encouraging to see that when we see a blind spot, we can engage with it. It's the basis of networking, as dv calls this habit, and i think practicing it helps hone collaborative skills.

  8. "I don't know to what extent you're interested in expanding your style."

    I wonder if it is an expanding of style per say. I think that the style I use on my own blogs is different than the style I use when commenting at Scott's old digs.

    Many recent posts on my site have to do with Scott's old digs and "how we do" or how we did. But, I dont know I would affirm that my blog had no room for "gentler" souls.

    I am comfortable with how I behave in my own house per say, and Scott made me comfortable with how I behaved in his.

    So, I'm not contrite for my style even if I am concerned about the perception and connection with others...

    (did it just get weird...did I make it worse?)


  9. I'm a few days late (and a few dollars short) in responding... a woman goes away for three days and comes home to find 45 new posts in her google reader. How exciting. Anyway.

    I'm glad we've been having these great conversations about how we all discuss things. And I think it's a conversation worth keeping open if people start to feel the need to discuss more. But I feel like at this point, the door has been flung wide open (thanks in very large part you, RVC), and I'd like to now move past the talking about talking and get to the content. Which it sounds like you're ready to do, too. We may all have totally different interests in terms of the types of art we want to create... but that ought to be just what will make the conversation interesting. And let's you and me just make a promise never to start calling each other names. :)