Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 37 seconds

Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Oranges, Grapefruit, and Postcolonial Dialogue

| 3 Comments

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 37 seconds

Reading Time: 2 minutes


flickr photo shared by joellaflickr under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license

 

This was a REAL conversation, in person, a few months ago

Me: that’s a pretty big orange you got there

Friend: it’s a grapefruit

Me: Oh? but it really looks like an orange. I’ve never seen a grapefruit that color before.

Friend: I know, but it was sold to me as a grapefruit and it tastes like a grapefruit

Me: What does it look like inside? (she shows me). Oh, it looks like a blood orange…

Friend: I know. But it tastes like grapefruit

Me: You know better, then. If you’ve tasted it then you know best. Maybe it’s a hybrid of some kind…

Friend: Maybe.

Me: (sniff). They do smell like grapefruit

Friend: Wanna taste?

Me: (laughing) no, sorry, I don’t wanna eat your snack. Enjoy.

 

Virtual Conversation Analogy

Western person (WP): So… you all had a party with apples and oranges

Me: No, actually, it was a party with apples and grapefruit

WP: It looks completely like apples and oranges from here. Explain to me how those are not oranges but they are grapefruit. They look like oranges.

Me: I understand. but you’re not seeing it well. I was there and I’m telling you there were no oranges, there were grapefruit. They look like grapefruit to me and tasted like grapefruit to me but maybe from a distance they seem like oranges to you. This does not make them more oranges.

WP: But you’re not engaging my argument. You have to prove to me that they were grapefruit. How can I know for sure they weren’t oranges?

Me: It’s a little difficult to do that if you weren’t there. Even if I asked all the participants to confirm it, would you believe me, or would you think they were deceived into thinking they were grapefruit when, in fact, you the expert know they were oranges even though you weren’t there at all and didn’t taste or smell or touch them?

Observer: will you let up already, she’s telling you they weren’t oranges

Other observer: WP has the right to make claims about oranges

Me: WP has no idea what WP is talking about. WP was not THERE. I don’t have to defend against an evidence-less argument

Other observer: you are being mean to WP. WP has the right to say whatever WP wants

Yet another Observer: No one has the right to impose their vision of oranges upon another

Other observer: no one has the right to silence WP’s vision of oranges on everyone else

Me: I think I have the right to ignore a vision that does not apply to my context altogether. There’s no way I am winning an argument when my version of reality is not given any value whatsoever, and someone who has no idea is imposing theirs and expecting me to engage.

WP: You are a great example of an anti-intellectual

Me: Dude!

Yet another observer: This was a practical and not an intellectual conversation. There is no reason to get into this…

Another observer: You are all now being mean to WP

Me: Dude!

3 Comments

  1. Hi Maha, there’s a form and pattern to this type of discourse and I think it’s worth studying. The main principal is to set in place a repeating loop within a continuous change of direction. The changes are like a continuously moving target that only shifts a bit. That way you can never clarify what your opponent meant while they can always claim to be on the same topic. The repeating loop is a constant challenge to your intentions and credibility. I think the idea is primarily to whittle away at your confidence, While THEY seem to remain entirely logical YOU look shaky and undecided.

    Well illustrated point. You’ve been practicing your game building skills:-)

  2. Let us not become so fixated on citrus fruit that we lose sight of how we are all being squeezed to a pulp.

  3. As a game, the goal would be to re-establish the order of things to a former arrangement. For instance women back to a subservient position in society. The weakness of this assumption is it relies on a reality distorted both by time and a bias meant to sustain the notion that this was how things actually were. Did people at the time of this golden moment of orderliness actually consent to this arrangement of power?

    Another gambit is to “persuade” people already part-way into change that they have misinterpreted the intentions of of the thought leaders they themselves reference. Best way to do this is to imply a deeper scholarship through quotations assembled, preferably, out of context. Mostly, the idea trolling is to present a logic that can’t be penetrated or pinned down. It’s a dream world of nostalgia for arrangements no longer viable so the ultimate weapon is to create confusion.

    This is an interesting paper and an exercise in the importance of critical thinking:
    Searching for Safety Online: Managing “Trolling” in a Feminist Forum
    http://www-bcf.usc.edu/~fulk/620overview_files/Herring.pdf

    Simon, I keep seeing the term: “Not From Concentrate” on containers of citrus juices. Do you suppose that indicates an anti-intellectual bias in fruit mongering?

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