Monday, October 24, 2011

After all that nonsense

Dear Hilary,

I have fluttered through annoyance, despondence, frustration, confusion, and possibly two or three others that didn't last long enough to identify (like those $Z^{0}$ particles before the Super Proton Synchrotron got warmed up).

The thing is, it isn't you, HJMW, from whom I wish to remain anonymous, nor any of the friendly folk who care to leave replies here, but from unscrupulous con artists, stalkers, grudge-holders, borderline personalities, spambots, marketers and any antipapal inquisitors who might be keen to leverage whatever irrelevantia are handy for the cause of annoying the neighborhood Christian. It isn't folk of good will I'm aiming to frustrate, but search engines --- for they are indeed stupid automata. Just ask Dr. Thursday (which is not his given name, btw). This is why I have an anonymous-looking email address, writing from which I sign the name I was given in Baptism.

I have publically noted elsewhere over the present signature that I have a middle name of Christopher --- and indeed this is true, while I don't usually draw attention to it in real life. So I suppose I could honestly sign "Christopher" at your 'blog and we'd all be more-or-less happy. But this puzzles me: what particularly would you gain by my calling myself Christopher? Surely there are some dozens of millions of Christophers out there, many using the internet quite happily (and many of them not Christians at all). Which of them would I be, unless you met me? I could call myself Raphael or Philip, and you'd know about as much about me, and have as much reason to believe these were names given me (they're not). I could even call myself "Choi Chu" and be reasonably sure of a well-formed Mandarin name (or several), but it could as well be a command in Klingon to "beam me up". I already write in many places using the present pseudonym, and it would be unnatural to arbitrarily write now within the same circle under a new name. (I've already acquired two others, quite inadvertently, just because of the way google blogger works, and it mildly annoys me, when it's not amusing me.)

And it's not as though pseudonyms were a new or even ill-seeming phenomenon in writing, publishing, or commentary. To take some self-serving examples, in maths there's the infamous "Bourbaki"; in fiction, John LeCaré and Lewis Carol come to mind; I don't know if Anne Landers is a real name, or why it shouldn't be several people --- Landers is notoriously suggestible when it comes to agreeing with conflicting advice written-in by readers, and so I wonder.

It makes perfect sense to me that Fr. Z, whose blog is an extension of his professional and vocational activities, writes under his own name; I understand that you are a professional writer, too, but the Orwellian Picnickers aren't reading or commenting there as your professional associates, but for joy and comfort on the internet. The insistence on "real" names simply doesn't make sense, because you've no way to check them, no way to avoid false negatives, and no advantage anyways.

On the other hand, I'm very glad you're recovering enough to feel noticeably more awake, as you say, and I pray for your speedy return to full health (and your perseverence unto salvation, too!), and otherwise wish you all the best.

A la prochaine,

Guy Street


Enbrethiliel said...


I'd call it a control thing, but that term has too many negative connotations. A management thing, perhaps?

I'm sure Hilary has had her own share of "unscrupulous con artists, stalkers, grudge-holders, borderline personalities, spambots, marketers and any antipapal inquisitors who might be keen to leverage whatever irrelevantia are handy for the cause of annoying the neighborhood Christian," all of whom made her put her foot down with these combox rules.

(Have you read them? They're quite entertaining. I just love the way she hints there is room for only one insufferable ego on her blog--and I mean that in the sincerest possible way. You know I have a soft spot for people who rub everyone else the wrong way. My lost kin, they are.)

Belfry Bat said...

Yes, I have indeed read the rules! I think I effectively decided to ignore them because ... am I an insufferable ego? ... because "crescat" and "seraphic" certainly aren't real names (one could be a latin verb, the other's an adjective), and why should girls have all the fun? ... I was pretty sure no-one would notice until it was plain that I try to write sensibly?

Really, I like Hilary's writing (Really I do, O Hilary!) and she seems like a person I'd be glad to include in proper acquaintance, but as that's not practical I'd be happy to amplify or echo or wonder-a-script-at the things she posts, and to counsel caution when she exaggerates something; and that last was what I tried to do when she noticed. Ah, well.

me said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Enbrethiliel said...


But why should she take counsel from someone who doesn't have the courtesy to follow the rules of her universe, however solipsistic it may be? And you're hardly on the same level of name recognition as the Crescat and Seraphic.

So just call yourself "Christopher" and keep commenting!

Belfry Bat said...

I'm actually a naturally quiet sort of person, so I'm quite happy to go on reading and not commenting.

Thou, my whole point is that I want to call myself something honest and yet webcrawler-proof, that it isn't people I'm trying to hide from. "Christopher" would do, I suppose...

But, for "why"... of course there's no good reason. About as much reason as there is to blogging, I think. I shan't call her rules solipsistic or construe them as part of a universe proper to her; maybe we've opposite confusions on the nature of the medium? Or maybe it's as with self-addressed stamped envelopes...