I didn't feel it was appropriate to barge into a private conversation, but I wanted to offer this post in response to Joshua's soul searching, and the efforts of many fellow bloggers to offer advice. As one commenter noted, Joshua and I seem to push each other's buttons. It's true -- I know you're all surprised.
Let me offer what "buttons" you push for me, and I welcome the same from you, if you feel you haven't already said it.
There really are only three things, Joshua, but man they set me off. First, while I won't ask you to revisit our debate, I'd ask that you just read through your comments in the post I've linked to above. Here is a list of how you refer to me: "fool," "pig-headed prof," "bully," "thug," "dishonest," and "damn hypocrite." On one blog, you called me "crazy." These are personal insults, attached to me by name. While one might argue that I have insulted NY theatre people as a whole, I think you would be hard put to find anyplace where I have insulted personally any specific person (with the possible exception of you, and if I did, I apologize). But it is hard to maintain equanimity in the face of those words, which seem like "fighting words."
Second, it drives me crazy when you totally misrepresent or misinterpret what I have said, and then insist that I actually meant your intepretation even if that isn't what I said. During the discussion of "red state theatre," Theatre Forte tried to find out where I actually said the things I was being accused of, and you tried to help but couldn't really find anywhere I actually said it, so you just said I really meant it even if I didn't write it. That's not fair. We all cherry pick -- we're not writing a booklength study -- but shouldn't the evidence be representative, and fairly interpreted?
Third -- and for some reason, this one causes a really childish reaction in me -- you have a tendency to do what I call "pound the table." You will assert something and follow it by a variation on the phrase "it just is." Something like: "This is just wrong -- it just is." No argument, nor reason, just an assertion that it "just is." "Your arguments are specious -- they just are." "You're arguing in circles -- you just are."
OK, so those are my buttons. I'm sorry if I knocked you off your "no-Walters" diet, but I'm reaching out not to smack you down, but to see if there is a way to communicate without verbal fisticuffs. Maybe there isn't, and that's OK. Sometimes people aren't meant to talk.
About me. The fact is -- and someone else has already noted it -- about every six weeks or so I lose my cool about something. Whereas I am virtually ignored by the theatrosphere in between those six-week periods, those posts have come to form my blogging reputation, at least among the bloggers I have an on-going relationship with. I share the same feeling you mention in your post -- a sense that a reputation as a thug is undeserved. Nevertheless, in those six-week blowouts, I tend to write in impassioned generalizations that are based more on personal intuition than on hard evidence. It's a fault -- sometimes I just get pissed in a really irrational manner. Iowa 08 set me off more than a YouTube video and blog should have. I could probably go back and reconstruct what led to the explosion -- it probably connected to something else I was reading and thinking about -- but it wouldn't be interesting to do so. Anyway, I pound the table. And I insult huge swaths of humanity. And I make Big Ole Generalizations. And I feel bad about that -- I really do -- and at the same time, I feel a commitment to the kernel of the idea that lies at the center of the tirade: in this case, that there are stereotypes out there, and they are unrecognized and reinforced by people with the power to disseminate images. All of this leads to problems of my own making.
For the record, I don't think you're a thug. In fact, I think a couple hours over beer and pizza talking with you would be a pretty good time. But you are tenacious and stubborn, and so am I, and those characteristics prevent either one of us from walking away from an argument.
My preference would be that you and I share a virtual handshake and receive absolution from the rest of our acquaintances, who don't like it when we fight. From your perspective, it may be too soon or undesirable. But there it is. It's an offer.
If an apology is expected from either of us, then we're screwed. The agreement, I think, should be to go on. And maybe detonate a blogging version of the MIB memory erasers...