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Woebot
17-12-2004, 10:36 AM
I thought I'd better deal with this head-on rather than hope it'd quietly fade away. Mark's only proviso about setting up Dissensus with me was that he feared he wouldn't have enough time to drop by, he was otherwise enthusiastic and encouraging, made a fabulous contributions in the form of a number of thought-provoking threads and set up the Technology and Politics forums on his own initiative. I thought our partnership was looking good, and the "k-punk kollective" in the form of Effay, Meme and Karl Kraft have been making fantastic contributions to the discourse.

In the event it's been people's (often bellicose) reactions to his ideas that's meant, as he confided to me the other night in person, he feels unnecessarily threatened here. My reply was that I didn't blame him. I expended quite a lot of energy trying to defend Mark here, until it became clear that my defenses were not welcome, and even appeared to Mark crass! I reasoned that as an Administrator he had the wherewithal to ban or chasten people himself who he thought were being unreasonable, and so stood back.

Just this morning at k-punk he referred to the forum which he himself named as a "troll-stalked desolation", and I couldn't but reflect that it isn't just here where he's been met with a mixture of bafflement and hostility in recent weeks. In the past his own comments box fell prey to the same conditions. In truth I think he's far more comfortable "in the pulpit". I, on the other hand, who've been through a similar love-hate relationship at the WOEBOT comments box, have (once I got past the slightly weird idea that people should somehow be grateful for what I was offering up) relished stepping down off the artificial pedestal I'd made myself. I only wish someone else had set up a forum like this one so I wouldn't have to feel eternally awkward for nominally "being in charge."

Suffice to say I'm really upset that, at least as far as Mark's role here is concerned, it's all gone slightly pear-shaped. I'm even a little embarrassed; I feel I've let everyone down a bit. On the other hand, Dissensus is shaping up to be a bit of a corker. I'm blown away by the knowledge, invention and wit on display here and am determined to soldier on myself, even though I never bargained to have to run a place like this on my own. I never would have entered into it in the first instance if that was to be the eventuality.

Though this may on the surface to appear to be faintly hypocritical I've decided to take Mark's Administrator privelleges from him (I feel like I'm limping along as it at the moment) and make all the Senior Members who've posted more than 100 times (and Diggedy Derek at 99!) here "Moderators". If any of this gang want the responsiblity of being an Administrator they're welcome to ask. Again I hope this makes sense to all the crew.

Big up the Dissensus massive!

Grievous Angel
17-12-2004, 11:06 AM
One of the paradoxes and tragedies of entrepreneurship is that the founders or visionaries behind a new business or a new product all too often find themselves misunderstood, unappreciated, and out of step once that business or product does actually take off. It's one of the reasons venture capital exists -- to gently ease out the founders once they're irrelevant to the organism they have spawned. Sadly, history shows that the money doesn't always make up for the sense of rejection.

I think there's a little bit of that syndrome at work here.

On the one hand, I feel that people get way too wound up by K-Punk, and sometimes by the unperson sometimes known as "Mark Fisher". They don't see the humour, or the genuine rage and distress behind his writing. They should cut him a little slack.

On the other, people get wound up by K-Punk cos he's a bit of a wind up merchant. That's kinda the point. You don't read K-Punk to agree with him. I don't "agree" with him, whatever that means. His position -- well, positions, which should always be, and always are, plural, but not pluralist -- is deliberately controntational. Deliberately snotty. Deliberately punk. No future. Shooting from the hip and deliberately targeting a few sacred cows on the way, including a number that really should not, by any rational yardstick, be targeted. But onto the holocaust they go.

In that sense, he really shouldn't be surprised that he gets a reaction. He dealt it. Can he take it? The answer is, obviously, of course not. And why should he? Because that's what the reasonable, common sense, avoid-burning-your-bridges thing to do? No.

This is K-Punk.

K-Punk is in Hell.

K-Punk knows we are all in Hell.

K-Punk is fanning the flames to make a Jacob's ladder from the scorch Marks. A way out, or in.

Who knows if he'll make it. Part of the voyeuristic thrill is that we really don't know if he will. It could all be over tomorrow, one way or another. But that's not actually what makes K-Punk vital. What makes him vital is the occasional scatter shot insight that changes the way you see yourself. These are worth hanging around for -- worth putting up with that selection of scabrous K-Punk-isms that infuriate and alienate. Worth persisting with even in the knowledge that whatever support or sympathy you offer, it will always, in the final analysis, be largely irrelevant.

One last point. Dissensus was set up with a very clear agenda for how its members engage with one another -- one of toleration, of respect, of a certain collegiate mutual helpfulness and indulgence. You could say K-Punk failed to abide with those rules -- though I don't think so. I just think that even if he did break them, Dissensus people -- "the cream of the blogosphere, the top echelon of online forums", as Matt's new media park puts it -- should forgive and indulge.

Or maybe this is all bollocks and it was all going to blow up one day anyway.

I'll say this though: he's a bit of a shagger on the quiet.

paul.meme

stelfox
17-12-2004, 12:20 PM
it's a shame mark has taken this personally. i like him a lot and have a huge amount of time for him, but i've not been terribly fond of k-punk for a while now. sometimes the lines between the two blur. i think simon has put it better than me, but my key objection to everything has been that most of the work i've seen from k-punk has been high on the cold and actually pretty low on the rational. that doesn't make for a better world. anyway, sorry for all the sniping of late. i've been feeling bad about it, but sometimes things get under my skin, especially people purporting to be socialists while holding the vast majority of society in abject disdain (cf carmody as a perfect example.) happy christmas everyone and truces all round.

henrymiller
17-12-2004, 02:39 PM
i think paul's post kind of exposes the problem: dissensus contains lots of people who know each other as real persons. not unpersons, persons. even people who haven't met have probably encountered each other elsewhere, as i have stelfox, for example. k-punk, as you say, can't handle what he gives out precisely because it's personal, about persons, as not all online fora are.

as for the real rage and distress -- well it's only *too* obvious, i think.

nomos
17-12-2004, 02:55 PM
I nearly wrote something about this last night so I'm glad to see that WOEBOT has opened up the discussion. I'd really like to see Mark/K-Punk back inside Dissensus. He's one of the reasons I joined. But, like Stelfox and 2stepfan I have some mixed feelings about how everything has unfolded. I was too timid to get into the discussions on K-Punk's blog because I'd watched some nasty (on a personal level) discursive beat-downs play out there. Of course, that's his space and you play by his rules there.

As I've mentioned previously, what really encouraged me to get involved here was the comment Matt made on upon setting up Dissensus - something to the effect that we'd all be bound to treat each other with a certain degree of civility or risk getting booted. Same rules for everyone. The thing with K-Punk is that (a) yes he has a rhetorical style that invites argument. Argument is fine. But, (b) he has gotten personally nasty in discussions here and he didn't seem to be following the same rules as other people (although that soon changed). Personally, I stopped going in the Thought forum sometime after having myself and my views denigrated without substantiation and watching the same scenario unfold in a several other discussions. It even soured me on the whole enterprise for a short while. There were at least a couple of attempts to engage K-Punk in a discussion about this business but, from what I remember, he more or less brushed them off. This might have been a point where things could have started cooling down.

However, things did get much worse as people started tearing into him. Mark's sense of having been ganged-up on is entirely valid. I couldn't believe some of the personal shit that was being raised. And then it became open season from all corners. It was like legitimate frustration ceding to vitriol. I'd have left myself.

So Matt, I think you've handled a really awkward situation as best as you could. I don't think anyone has a negative thing to say about that. I think a lot of people would really like to see K-Punk come back, they'd just like to be able to discuss and argue with him without the fear of being called idiots. At the same time, there is a degree of collective responsibility for his departure that has to be assumed here.

Last note - never having met the man person, I was quite taken by the quiet, gentle voice I heard on the Resonance doc. I think the blurring between Mark Fisher the very human person and K-Punk the cold alter-ego is at the heart of this. It's hard to know where one ends and the other begins. And it seems to matter

grimly fiendish
17-12-2004, 06:45 PM
wow. i never even realised all this was happening. because i was so busy in november and early december, i didn't read many threads here ... i'm bloody glad i didn't, to be honest, because if i'd been aware of the seething undercurrents i'd probably not have got as involved in, say, the teachers thread ... and i certainly wouldn't have bothered starting the kids one.

maybe i'm just very unobservant. but surely this is proof that dissensus, even in its nascent form, is already a broad enough church for such arguments to be absorbed without affecting the wider forum. which has to be a good thing.

Karl Kraft
18-12-2004, 09:50 AM
Personaly I dont think you have ANYthing to worry about Matt. Getting to communicate with all the hyper intelligent, passionate people on this forum is fantastic.
Also, there really needed to be a space to discuss K-Punk posts. The fact that these arguments are going on at the moment is in a way a sign of health, that it is important, worth arguing about. The unfortunate/ bizarre thing is that K-Punk's current line of thought would seem to make personal attacks a 'valid' debate tactic. The thing is, an ultra fine balance needs to be struck with this kind of argument, and unfortunately many of the posts haven't struck this balance.
I'm hope allthis will be fergoten about soon and hopefully K-Punk will make a return.

rei
20-12-2004, 11:05 AM
I must concede that I have only started visiting dissensus in the last few weeks and have been deeply impressed that the forum is shaping up to have a real depth of thought and explore a spectrum of ideas on music, art, philosophy and politics. It is enlightening to find others who do not see the compartmentalised, rigid constructs that impedes epistemology; fluid notions that flow into each other, reifying and melding into neu . Nothing changes unless we explore the often labyrinthine corridors of rationality; trying to grasp ineffably complicated ideas is no mean feat; theories/art; evolve over time, refined and remodelled. To be fair, I admire that K-punk is endeavouring to construct something different and hope that his fervour is undiminished by recent bouts. It could be argued that the ideas he presents are out there on the forum and are automatically disposed to rationale critique, and that is true; however I think that the forum is a richer place with K-punk present and a little restraint at certain points in the debate would have given a better all round result. I still believe excellent points; and more importantly excellent ideas have been touched upon through out and hope that K-punk chooses to return as im sure the forum would be diminished in his absence.
Anton Artaud pushed (and crossed) boundaries and his often erratic body of work often defies rationale interpretation, Foucault is viewed as a poor historian by some; but both were rich fonts of ideas that started a chain reaction of theory and counter-theory; propelling others to supplant, modify and expand on what came before. K-punk was brave enough and passionate enough to assemble a theory that has created an excellent debate, which wouldn't even have taken place had it not been for him.

polystyle desu
20-12-2004, 03:45 PM
No worries Matt
You've done good , keep it rollin

Compared to some places the arguments didn't get THAT heated ,
it was a bit of fun , it got silly nilly , needed footnotes (or ads for old books)
and anyway if someone can't take the heat ... / battle to an end , then reap wot u ...

Mingling points of view without having to 'sell' (as it seems is starting to happen here) is more fun

99 posts but Plato ain't 1

mms
20-12-2004, 07:07 PM
hope he comes back. mark's always got something very interesting to say and he says it very clearly regardless of whether people agree with it or take it personally. afterall this is dessensus.

Woebot
21-12-2004, 07:24 AM
hope he comes back.

If he does I hope everyone isn't so hostile to his ideas, even though some persist in finding them controversial.

As far as managing this shop with him "in absentia", it was a gloomy prospective. In truth I think he could probably do without the responsibility.

To have him back, even as an occasional visitor, would be fantastic.