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October 04, 2005


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Jodi, this is a great contribution to the blogospherical discourse on "the trollish." I have to admit I never thought the discussion would become this widespread, (or even this interesting.) You are absolutely right that it touches on an essential issue: what defines who is to be included within a community? Who are what decides the legitimate parameters for debate and discussion? In the blogging community these issues are very fluid.

And I think this might be a place where the experience of cyberspace can be applied to the "real world." I know this sounds like a metaphysical move on my part, (Matt even suggested that "there is nothing outside the blog,") but can one imagine any community that did not have stable parameters? Of course, stable does not mean frozen in stone, but pure fluidity does not allow for communication. Somewhere Derrida makes the point that either pure unity or the pure multiplicity are synonymous with death.

Adam Kotsko

From Politics of Friendship, we could even take Derrida's reconstructed "real" version of Aristotle's aphorism and apply it here: "To the one with many trolls, there is no true troll." (The moment in that book when he determines that the entire philosophical tradition had the aphorism wrong is one of my very favorite Derrida moments.)


Adam, I love that part of "Politics of Friendship" as well. But perhaps we do in fact have a "true troll," because we really do not encounter many trollish trolls, the type of troll that threatens both bodily harm and racial genocide in the same breath? Or do we? (he says while rubbing his chin and fiendishly squinting his eyes). Hmmmmmmmmmmm.


Please settle an argument. Is "My Friends, there are no friends" originally Derrida, or is it Montaigne?


I think Derrid is referencing a comment by Montaigne, who attributes it to Diogenes, who says it is a paraphrase of Aristotle. I know that sounds like BS, but without the text in front of me, I think that is the genealogy of it. But Adam probably knows better than I do.


Adam will know the best. But, like Alain, I thought the 'original' was supposed to be Aristole. Yet, when I've taught the Nicomachean ethics, the sections on friendship, I can never find anything like it!


Alain, is that a Daily Show gesture I detected?

Adam Kotsko

It comes from a scribal error in the text of Diogenes -- he paraphrases Aristotle's idea that the one who has too many friends doesn't really have any true friends at all, but he writes it in such a way that it could be misinterpreted as "O friends there is no friend" due to the omission of a subscript iota (which would make the "O" into a dative pronoun rather than into the word for introducing the vocative).

So Jodi's right to say that she never found it in Aristotle, and Diogenes probably didn't originally think he found "it" in Aristotle, either. It's really a cool thing.

If you don't believe me, you can check in Politics of Friendship, starting at the first full paragraph of page 207, and then extending for probably 5-10 pages (hard to define, as he weaves a more "philosophical" treatment of the question into his philological one).

Arguably, Montaigne is the first who intends to use that phrase (even if he mistakenly attributes it to Aristotle, taking an erroneous text of Diogenes at its word). So whoever said "Montaigne" is, as they say, "right."

Adam Kotsko

The credit for the use of that tag line goes to my commenter Damon Jones.

The concept of the troll is an important component of the philosophy of blogging, or at least a prolegomena to any future blogology that would come forward as a science.

Here is my manifesto for the philosophy of blogging, with excessive self-praise:



Jodi, you are correct.

Adam, I had no idea that you had developed a Meta-Blogological philosophy. From this day forward I declare myself a student of meta-blogology, with an emphasis in Blogospheric ethico-political conflict resolution. And I now consider myself a disciple of the Kotscko school - a Kotskoian blogosopher. With your permission of course.


Adam, your claim to having claimed the claim of first claiming the phrase, "there is no outside the blog" looks false to me. For instance, despite the fact that you had the gall to first call your blog, "The Weblog" (which looks like a factual claim to me), little could you know that for several months in the late 1990's someone named Matt had been going around making the very same claim on a little piece of paper, annotated, notarized, dated and signed, although admittedly, still awaiting publication at this point.

That said, you still deserve full credit for causing me to become an addicted blogger, to the substantial detriment of everything else outside the blogs.

Patrick J. Mullins

'There is no outside the blog' attests to the truth of McLuhan's 'the medium is the message.' However, 'the medium is the message' at least hopes to find the message somewhere--by finding a medium that can be a full-bodied message--which 'there is no outside the text' (probably ultimately as rotten as 'there is no outside the blog'), does not, in all its life-hating putrefaction--'gift' of its death-loving maker, happily dead now for a full year.

Some blogs (this one is one which usually does) do interest themselves in messages. Many of the blogs which refuse to become like ingrown toenails are taken off blogrolls. Results of this will be shown in the form of reciprocal subtractions, which will begin to show themselves presently.


In light of which thank you for the link, Jodi.

Dominic Fox

> The credit for the use of that tag
> line goes to my commenter Damon
> Jones.

For some reason I can't fathom, people are always calling me Damon. I suspect a subconscious misreading of "Dominic" as "Demonic".

I have no idea where the "Jones" comes from, however. Someone else entirely? Some joke on Adam's part about blog-addiction ("I have a real jones for the Weblog...")?

Anyway, I hereby exhibit my utter pettiness and narcissism - essential Trollish traits, of course - by insisting on being accorded full credit for the first use Weblog tag-line "Oh Trolls, There Is No Troll".

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