Sunday, December 06, 2009

My visit to PassiveAggressiveLand.

(It’s a non-revitalized neighborhood of the Open Air Museum)

Normally I wouldn’t do this, but this time I will, primarily because it’s been a wonderful weekend.

An anonymous writing critic spewed at Voice of the People, and I responded, although not to the critic’s satisfaction. The topic is my column in Thursday’s Tribune: BAYLOR: Long ago in Slovakia.

Seeing as teeth marks from a hooded canine wannabeen remain imbedded in the denim of my jeans, here’s the “dialogue” to date.

Anonymous said...
What does being an Atheist have anything to do with St. Nicholas day or having Germanic heritage in a Slavic nation? What was the point or the need for that information? What was the author getting at? The column would have been a very good one if wasn’t for the first two paragraphs. It would have been par with the one about Armistice Day.

Roger said …
St. Nicholas Day is on the 6th. The column was published on the 3rd, hence (a) the topical reference to St. Nicholas in the intro, and (b) the fact that it also was mentioned in the text about Slovakia.

Anonymous said …
I sorry but your response doesn't answer any of my questions sufficiently. They are just oblique answers. The intro was irreverent or not necessary.

Roger said …
Shrug. I got paid to write it, and you didn't. 'Nuff said, hooded one.

Anonymous said …
I think the questions are viable. You have accused others of making irrelevant comments etc. What does being an Atheist have anything to do with St. Nicolas Day? What relevance did it have to do with the story? How is being paid, to write in the Tribs editorial section, have anything to do with explaining the relevancy of being an Atheist and St. Nicolas Day. If you are paid shouldn’t your column be of the highest quality of writing? The Trib will print just about any person’s letters or allow anyone to be a guest columnist when they make you a staff reporter or editor then you may have something to brag about. And yes, I do read your column along with others please help me understand yours better.

Roger said …
I suspect I'll eventually address your "questions," probably at NAC, but not here.

What is the one thing held in common by each of the roles you cite, from letter writer to columnist, and including editors and reporters?

They all sign their names to their work. Consequently, I'm not interested in a serious conversation with passive/aggressive anonymous folks like you. Create whatever rationalizations or excuses you like for anonymity -- indulge yourself and be creative -- but it doesn't imply that I have any responsibility to cooperate with the indulgence.

I stand behind what I say and write. If I'm correct, there's credit, and if wrong, there's blame. So it goes. Why should I waste more time than the five minutes its taken to write these words to "discuss" something with someone who doesn't share my ethos?

It's just all Bledsottian to me (it's a new word I just invented).

Thanks for reading nonetheless.


As for the more blatantly obvious passive/aggressive deficiencies of the anonymous writer (“Bledsottian” references this trait), these can be discussed another time. For now, I’ll try again to answer the questions asked, because for some of you, it may provide an insight into the creative process.

Following two weeks of poking sticks through the bars of the Open Air Museum’s theistic and holiday season cages, I wanted to write something counter-intuitive, but that still referenced the preceding discussions. The holiday piece from 1991 seemed appropriate, but it needed an introduction.

The common theme chronologically was St. Nicholas Day, which was mentioned in the original story, and which would be coming three days after the publication date of the column. To even the most casual of observers, and as such traditions go, St. Nicholas Day in America is traceable to European immigrants, primarily those from Central Europe.

Recalling that ethnic Germans once lived across broad swaths of Central Europe, including areas that are now “Slavic” nations (Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia), and in non-Slavic Hungary and Romania, and that my family background comes entirely from German immigrants, it didn’t strike me as far-fetched to combine these elements in the introduction.

Anonymous asks: “What does being an Atheist have anything to do with St. Nicolas Day?” and “What relevance did it have to do with the story?”

Having devoted previous columns to atheism, and having established my family’s Central European roots in theism, with the strong possibility that like the people I met in Slovakia, earlier generations of my family would have celebrated St. Nicholas Day in the immigrant tradition, there is attendant irony in my having emerged these many years later as an atheist. There’s also the fact that a century ago, it might not have been very healthful for a family member to confess atheistic leanings openly, which today can be done without overt fear of persecution apart from anonymous critics.

Hope that helps. I’d love to sit down with you and drink a beer while discussing it further, except you refuse to follow the blog policy of disclosure, and hoods remind me of the Klan.

Things like that just don’t help the nectar go down.

Thanks for reading.

1 comment:

G Coyle said...

roger - good piece about an ethnic German running for Mayor in a Romanian town today in the NYT. Odd tie-in to your piece?