Once Again, It’s Time to Look Through Our Reader Mail!
by David Kennedy Bird
Well, it’s that time again. Time to reach into the mailbag and see what kind of correspondence some of you — our most excellent readers — have been sending in.
The last time we looked at our reader mail was… [counts on fingers]… um, oh dear, over two years ago! (If you’d like to check out that post, here ya go.) No wonder the mailbag is brimming over. Apologies for having neglected your letters! You’ve no doubt had all manner of insightful suggestions and lavish praise for the All Flockbinkers Are Treadknicious blog during that time! Let’s have a look-see.
Editors’ Note: We have assigned each letter a handy title — after the fact, you see — for your easy reference. The Blogger did not have these titles to refer to as he was opening each letter, else his entire experience of reading the mail might have been different.
Letter #1. The classic “just what do you think do you’re doing” objection
Let’s start with… okay, here’s a letter from “Lindsay,” who lives in Port Huron, Michigan.
I have read every single post to this blog.
The Blogger: Well, that is indeed gratifying! It’s good to discover that we’ve got another fan. Let’s read some more.
It’s a form of self-torture. I just can’t make myself look away. Your blog is the most appalling spectacle i can even think of. I have spent years studying philosophy, and your blog is, like, the opposite of philosophy. Making a mockery of the most basic questions humanity has ever struggled with… how are you EVEN a PERSON?
The Blogger: Oh dear. And this letter started out with such promise. We cannot allow such baseless slanders to go unanswered!
Don’t interrupt. I’m not done yet. It seems to me that you’re doing immeasurable harm to the reputation of philosophy in the eyes of people who are just now learning the basics of it… you’re crippling them before they even have a chance to get started! How can you look at yourself in the mirror while shaving, that’s what i want to know.
The Blogger: Dear, misguided reader! I am shocked!–appalled!—that you could have so misunderstood the nature of this blog. A lively, comical romp through the bowels of the philosophical tradition (if, er, “bowels” was quite the word i was looking for) is not AT ALL the same thing as “making a mockery” of philosophy. Why, “making a mockery” of philosophy would involve the trivializing of foundational principles of philosophical thought by turning them into occasions for slapstick. It would involve substituting nonsense and whimsy for the sober, perennial discussions of which the philosophical tradition is based. And we would never dream of doing ANY of that!
Letter #2. A Reader has confused our blog with “Buzzfeed.”
Okay now, here we have a letter from “Taylor,” hailing from Pomona, California. Let’s see what ol’ Taylor has to say.
Man! I discovered your website a few months ago, and i’ve been digging on it religiously ever since! Dude! That is some funny jack, right there.
The Blogger: [blushing] Well, golly, you’re really being far too kind.
No, seriously, like, your quizzes are the best! Like, the one about what celebrity crush are you actually going to end up marrying. I was roaring.
The Blogger: Wut.
And, like, the one where i had to answer a bunch of stoner questions and it told me which Harry Potter character i was.
The Blogger: Um.
And your funny videos! The one about Americans from other parts of the country eating Midwestern food for the first time was HI-larious. And the one where blindfolded strangers try to guess each other’s age.
The Blogger: Oh boy.
And all the articles about fashion and style and beauty and whatever.
The Blogger: Okay, wow. Here’s the thing. I’m afraid you may have gotten us mixed up with some other website.
And the one where you have to guess what Stormy Daniels’s favorite color is, based on lines from classic Disney movies.
The Blogger: [sigh] I’m afraid we’re gonna need to move on to the next letter.
Letter #3. A joke about ‘fruitcake’
Hmmm. Here we have a missive from “Johnathwane,” who makes his home in Newport, Rhode Island.
I very much enjoyed your Christmas post this past December. I particularly enjoyed your analysis of the concept of ‘fruitcake’. It set off a train of thought which i’d like to share with you.
The Blogger: Well, sure, why not. Knock yourself out.
First of all, it occurred to me that we use ‘fruitcake’ in at least three different ways: (1) those inedible bricks of obscene non-food material that you can buy wrapped in cellophane during the holiday season, (2) the completely legitimate traditional food that the obscene bricks of gelatinous nonsense are supposedly inspired by, and (3) a crazy person.
The Blogger: Okay… tracking with you so far….
So, in a sense, we could say that fruitcakes (1) are the fruitcakes (3) of the culinary world.
The Blogger: Hah hah, that was clever. Wait. Was that the joke?
Not so much a ‘joke’. More of a lively observation. But wait: there’s more.
The Blogger: Ah. Lay it on.
Imagine a fruitcake (3) — an actual person, not a fruitcake (1) that is being construed as a fruitcake (3) —
The Blogger: With ya so far.
Okay, imagine such a fruitcake (3) attempting to produce a fruitcake (2) but ending up producing instead a fruitcake (1).
The Blogger: That was it?
The Blogger: [glancing furtively from one side to the other] Wow, thanks, well-meaning reader “Johnathwane.” Looking forward to hearing more from you. Moving right along.
Letter #4. Is logic really necessary?
Ooookaay, here we have a letter from “Madison,” who lives in Fort Worth, Texas. Let’s see what Madison has to say.
First off, i’d like to say that i think your blog is a lot of fun.
The Blogger: Sweet! I tend to think so, too.
So here’s my thing. You seem to put so much emphasis on logic!
The Blogger: Well, YEAH.
Logical syllogisms, logical premises, logical reason, logical conclusions, logical arguments, logic logic logic.
The Blogger: Mmmmmmm.
But i feel like logic isn’t really all that necessary, you know? It feels like a lot of stiff, irrelevant, silly restraints on what you can say and think. I feel like logic is sort of the opposite of feeling, intuition, body wisdom, spirituality. So is it really needed? Can’t we just get by with spontaneously saying what we really feel and know deep inside?
The Blogger: I totally feel your discomfort, Madison. I guess here’s what i’d like to say to you. Elephants are floating across my chewing gum. It’s a great day to be flaming, viscous and incoherent! I’m a jumping bean of putridity and amazement. Go, run, little napkins, be free! Eat more chicken. Fly a reindeer. Beat the odds, even the losers. We the people of the effervescent universe, fall, fall, fall. Rise. Fall again. Roll Tide.
What? That was your answer? But i don’t get it. That was just crazy talk. I don’t think you understood my question.
The Blogger: Tradition up a shrimp pole, forty-five asterisk, wah-wah, oh my stars, the square root of disharmony! Planet of the vapes, http://www.muumuu.org, 3.1415, owch, hmm.
Stop it! That made no sense at all! It’s all just nonsense! I can’t EVEN.
The Blogger: [goes into a spastic seizure accompanied by grunts and screams, rolling on the ground, kicking his legs up in the air]
I have LITERALLY no idea what you’re EVEN trying to do right there. I am SO scared right now. I am LITERALLY shaking with nervousness.
The Blogger: And i thus conclude my remarks on that topic. Due to space constraints, i wasn’t able to go into as full an explanation as i’d have liked to. We may just have to devote a whole post to this topic later on.
Letter #5. An idea about the Three Scotsmen Sitting on a Fence
Whew boy! All right, here’s a letter from a reader living in Taos, New Mexico. This one is named “Rainbow Steed.” The person who wrote the letter, i mean. “Rainbow Steed.” The reader who sent in this letter is named “Rainbow Steed.” It appears that i actually have a reader named “Rainbow Steed.” What a remarkable world we’re living in. Anyway, here’s what “Rainbow Steed” has to offer.
Okay, so i’ve been thinking about those three Scotsmen. The ones who are always sitting on that fence? I’ve been thinking about them a lot.
The Blogger: You’ve got to level with me. Is your name really “Rainbow Steed”…?
Yuppo. So in a drama class i’ve been taking, they say you’re always supposed to try and get inside the motivation of the character. What is motivating the character?
The Blogger: Yes, i think i understand you.
So these three Scotsmen. They’re up on that fence. Why? What are they doing up there? What motivated those three Scotsmen to get up on that fence, and sit there?
The Blogger: A penetrating line of inquiry.
So. What if they’re really up there so they can more easily reach the light bulb?
You know, “How many Scotsmen does it take to screw in a light bulb,” and the answer is “three, but they have to get up on the fence first so that they can like reach the light fixture.” That would be funny, wouldn’t it? And that would explain their motivation.
Or cross the road? As in, “Why did the three Scotsmen cross the road? And right before that, they were like sitting on a fence, why were they doing that?”
Just brainstorming, you know, for some possibilities. And i’ll write again when i come up with some more ideas about the motivation of those three Scotsmen.
The Blogger: Your further input will be highly appreciated, o most perspicuous reader!
Letter #6. A Critique of the very form and content of this blog post.
I think we’ve got time for one more letter. Let’s see. Here’s one from “Malthe” in Copenhagen, Denmark! It’s always good to hear from our international readers.
Thank you. I have very much enjoyed reading the blog. I find it interesting in the extreme. It challenges my burgeoning philosophical inclination. And it’s funny.
The Blogger: You’re too kind, Malthe. So what’s on your mind?
How is it that these letters are arranged in the form of dialogues? Like, the person who sent in the letter can tell what you’re saying in response to their letter, and so they add stuff in response to what you’re saying? What? How is that even a thing? Does the U.S. Postal Service even work that way? You can send mail that responds right as the reader reads it? No way. I’ve never sent a letter like that. The Danish mails do not work in this way.
The Blogger: It might seem a bit odd, to the untrained observer…
I’m not an observer. I’m one of the people writing you a letter.
The Blogger: Right, right. And i agree that it might seem a trifle odd that conventional mail should turn out to be… shall we say, interactive?… in much the same way that the internet often is. But that’s only to scratch the surface of the mysteries that surround the All Flockbinkers Are Treadknicious blog.
You’re changing the subject. I want to know how mail can talk back while the person reading it is still reading it.
The Blogger: Well, you know, it’s… it’s… kind of… complicated.