On Judging and not reading

NM nillo at SPAMtao.agoron.com
Thu Aug 26 05:46:57 MDT 1999

-----Original Message-----
From: Carrol Cox <cbcox at ilstu.edu>
To: marxism at lists.panix.com <marxism at lists.panix.com>
Date: Thursday, August 26, 1999 5:53 PM
Subject: On Judging and not reading

>Chris Matthew Sciabarra wrote:
>> Take a look at my work before you pass judgment on it.
[Carroll provides a list of books he has yet to read]
>Everyone has to judge the overwhelming proportion of books
>published each year *without* reading them. One must judge
>most of these without even reading about them. Everyone does

No, everyone does not have to do that.  Some people realize that they can
actually withhold judgment and not have an opinion on something before
reading it.  This is especially true for work that is atypical or unusual.
Everyone does not do judge without reading, except to the extent that they
prioritize some material over other material, which is a very different sort
of judgment than the ranting condemnation or the insistence that ignorance
is bliss that we have seen today.  Further, it is quite wrong to insist that
all material of a certain type must have the same level of quality (all
libertarian stuff is shit, all electron scribbling from burnt our Vietnam
War protestors is meaningless drivel and an apologia for closed-mindedness
etc.), since quality and ideology are not prefectly correlated.  This is
especially wrong to do when the work in question seems, on its face, to be
novel and quite unlike other material.  At the very least, one can withhold
absolute condemnation until at least a glance at the material can occur.

>And yet hardly a week goes by on maillists that someone does
>not pompously proclaim that this, that or the other work must
>be read before one can say anything about it. That attitude, if
>seriously carried through, would bring all intellectual and political
>activity to a halt, forever.

Oh please.  This sort of slippery slope argument is ridiculous and untrue,
and your commentary is certainly the most pompous thing I have seen on any
of the mailists I am on in at least a month.  Clearly, people can and do
withhold judgment, or shift judgment (accepting or adopting the opinions of
others who have read the material), or actually sit down with an open mind
at at least skim through material before passing judgment.  You commentary
is both factually and logically incorrect.

However, I'm sure you won't mind, since you just stated it as a principle,
if I ignore all your posts from now on, but denounce them all in advance as
the rantings of a person who hasn't learned a thing from 30 years of
political defeats?  After all, if you insist that people must judge without
information, you could hardly complain at my content-free valuation of
everything you will ever write, from now on.

Nick Mamatas

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