Letters Column for September 2006: The Secretary of Disestablishmentarianism

Posted on October 24, 2006 by Jenna

← Previous | Next →

Good morning!

We make the goodness and the badness that we see in others.

People do make their own choices and create their own qualities. But this does not make good or bad. Instead, what people create for themselves is responsibility: the strict responsibility of action, that is, that what you do, you cannot then choose not to have done; and the stricter responsibility of being, or, whichever way you choose to be, you must live with the implications of it.

That is not good or evil.

The abstract fuzz of moral impetus that we build around that responsibility in others—the animus that we see in others that makes them seem “evil” or “good”—is a personal construction, living in our own heads, that we use for adjudicating our response to others’ acts.

We do not see good or evil in someone else’s actions.

We interpret them into those actions. I know this because good and evil are abstract. They are ideas. They are concepts. They are interpretations.

This is important because it points towards the responsibility that we have in this regard. That is, we are responsible for the action of forming our personal concepts of good and evil to explain what we see in others. We are also responsible whomto we allocate these concepts of good and evil and the nuances of what that allocation means.

That is why I think it is good to focus on the good in others. It is a gift to ourselves because it is a cultivation of ourselves. It may also be a gift to others: our gaze may light a fire in them, if properly tuned.

The virtues of this approach, of course, depend on the nuances of your concepts of good.

That is, perhaps you may create an animus of evil more congenial in your mind than the animus of good; the raiment of the concept carries greater resonance?

In such a case, perhaps then I am wrong.

In reality, I may be saying nothing more than “watch for what you love, not what you hate,” and maybe that’s just as well.

Today is October 23. You probably won’t see this post until October 24, though. Either way, it’s somewhat late in the month for the letters column. The truth is, I thought that it was going to be hard enough to keep your attention on the page over the course of a multi-week arc with interleaving stories regardless; interjecting irrelevant material, that is to say, this, would have made it harder. Of course, now, it’s still going to slow down the larger story, dissociating the reader a bit further from the story of Sid and Max. I apologize for that.

Today I formally resume my work on Society of Flowers, the actual work thereof I restarted last week; 80.3% completion on the first draft at this point. (Not in a week. It’s been mostly done for a long time, waiting for, apparently, ritalin. *cough*)

Hopefully that will please those of you desirious of purchasing such things.

Donations for September totalled $76.07, with another $20 coming in this month. You will wonder at the first number, for which I will explain that the 7 cents are the seven pieces of copper I must pay to Discount Judas in exchange for his betraying Dr. Dobson. Discount Judas is available very cheap because he is an undocumented illegal immigrant and does not fall under worker safety laws. Some people have proposed building a fence between the United States and Rome to keep Discount Judases from stealing our megachurches but I have explained to them that the fence would only sink and get eaten by sharks. I am being dishonest in my motives; in truth, I just like cheap access to discount Judases for all my betraying important Church figures needs.

The $76, of course, is what I had to pay in campaign donations to the Secretary of Disestablishmentarianism to assist in the dissing of the Establishment Clause and to earn my ancient Rome discount card. It also doubles as a Costco card for all my bulk shopping needs!

Thank you for your kind words,

Dave Menendez
David Goldfarb
Hitherby Admin
Jonathan Walton
Penultimate Minion

This covers only kind words in the half of the month I’m answering today; kind words later on will be thanked on a future occasion!

Besides, an all-history diet will do terrible things to your waistline.
— ryan

You’d think, but people who read Hitherby every day are fitter, healthier, and more than ten times more likely to discover new species of arctic snail!

Years from now, those brave new souls emerging from the archives will see this pause and may, even for just a moment, review in their minds what they have read thusfar.
— Penultimate Minion

Who are these people who will not already know the Hitherby story years from now? Starving children from Cambodia? I won’t accept excuses from anyone less!*

  • Except deaf nuns.**

** I have a warm spot in my heart for deaf nuns.*
* Because of the incident.

As humans we are meant to be distinguished from animals (scientifically) by our ability to learn from others.
— Talisker

Also, animals can’t do the “got your nose” game!

People shouldn’t talk in their sleep!
— Hitherby Admin

You tell ’em!

It just occurred to me that “legend” can not only have the meaning of “myth”, but also of “a guide to what things mean on a map”. Huh.
— cariset


Wouldn’t that chest of pirate gold be serendipity, not synchronicity?
— David Goldfarb

For those just coming in now, this was the chest of pirate gold I discovered in my room after conceding a round of Structure Ball to synchronicity, that had apparently been there all along.

To be honest, I think that it certainly was serendipity, and should properly concede that round of Provenance Chess to said worthy. At the same time, I had vaguely intended to make an important philosophical point about synchronicity, which is, it says yarr.


At least on Talk Like a Pirate Day, and sometimes, when nobody’s around, on any day of the year.

about jaws falling off — first, I think that if it did happen at a fancy ball, there would be at least some people who would laugh, out of shock.
— rpuchalsky

Laughter is interesting communication.

I sometimes wonder if it’s something like a parity bit, like with yawning (where people tend to divide into “yawn if the number of people who have previously yawned is even” and “yawn if the number of people who have previously yawned is odd.”) It closes the cycle of a structurally active thought.

I grant your point, but it’s a strictly localized phenomenon as I don’t think it would help anyone else figure out what to say about the spontaneous demandiblation.

Synchronously enough, I posted a comment regarding Henson’s “The Frog Prince” in my ljblog here. In summary, after growing up listening to the LP, I finally got hold of the VHS of “The Frog Prince” last week and actually got to -watch- it.
— mneme

Woot! Pirate treasure for mneme!

I must register my deep concern that the juxtaposition of “Doctor” and “Martin” will lead to footwear puns. ;)
— cariset

Socks to be you!

Although happily I am generally far too concerned with proper dental hygiene to even look at my feet without a shoehorn.

As of today, 118 days later, I’m almost caught up (only a couple of months of entries to go! ^_^).
— recherche


(Yikes! I just noticed the cover for Savant and Sorcerer. Dear me. I’ve long wondered what percentage of authors loathe their cover designs. Few seem to have much influence, if any, over them. Obviously I have no idea how you feel about this one, but I know how I’d feel about it.
— Recherche

My very first officially published work—written after Nobilis or most of Nobilis, IIRC, but hitting the streets earlier—has one naked man standing on another naked man’s chest and hitting him with a sword. I can’t remember exactly which project; I think it was one of those cribbage cheat guides that were so popular in gaming at the time, but it might have been Hack and Slash, Book 2: Slash or something about Care Bears.

… hm. Blah. Half of this entry vanished. I bet it was a firefox error on my end or something but this was at least a few replies longer when I published it two nights ago! I’ll deal with it on the next post.