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Sender: Phil Neisser
Subject: Re: Decreasing traffic on the Transpartisan list
Date: Thu, Aug 14, 2014
Msg: 101109

Dear Friends of Transpartisanship

To my mind, or from my point of view, there is a confusion in our discussion, because two laudable goals are in play at once (also it is of course very possible that it is just me who is confused).:-) To wit: We (the listserve discussion group) seem to be operating as (1) a group having a discussion about society and politics and (2) a group discussing how it is that we might best go about encouraging/fostering/creating transpartisan discussions among citizens more generally, also about society and politics. And that, by my observation, has created some confusion.

More specifically, our pursuit of both of those goals has perhaps muddied our discussion of the the talk/action distinction. I entirely agree that transpartisan talk should be understood as form of action in itself, not merely instrumental or a "waste of time." On the other hand I am one of those who thought that the specific job at hand for us D and D talkers is not so much to engage in intrinsically valuable discussions as it is to engage in actions that create that kind of talk among the citizenry. And I only hanker for "more action" relative to that goal. And I DO find our discussions intrinsically valuable.

I hope that's clear.

Yours Phil

Dr. Phil Neisser Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences Chair, Department of Politics Coordinator, Environmental Studies Dunn 103/Satterlee 307 SUNY Potsdam Potsdam, NY 13676 315-267-2230 (o) 315-854-3520 (c) 315-379-9713 (h)

On 8/10/2014 1:30 AM, Jacob Hess wrote: > Thanks all, for such thoughtful responses this week. As Sandy, Michael and others pointed out, listserv (and vacation) traffic varies naturally for lots of reasons. Equally clear in the comments is the wide variation in expectations of a listserv (and transpartisan work itself). > > Although I'm excited to explore these powerful action proposals David, Mark and Tom have each raised, I'm personally still a little preoccupied by the tension between "action" and "talk" itself (or between a "practice-focus" vs. "intellectual discussion/abstraction"). > > I understand how a connection to "action" is often crucial to drawing citizens into discussion - and appreciate the synergy Tom described, with "conversation shaping action and action informing the next wave of action-shaping conversation." What I'm struggling to understand is why dialogue itself is so often framed as somehow alternative to action or something other than action. Is it because we're sitting still as we talk?! (: > > I recently started teaching mindfulness meditation to people with stress-related conditions. One of the barriers that sometimes comes up with students is that being still and silent can seem an awful lot like "doing nothing." To those who do it, of course, sitting with oneself in silence, as Jon Kabat-Zinn often points out, is just about "the hardest work in the world." > > And that's often how transpartisan dialogue-for-understanding feels to me - the hardest of work - and, I would argue, the most important of actions. Without it (or without the investment of time and energy to do it right), it seems to me that so many (other) actions simply may not happen. Indeed, they may not even be "thinkable." > > If that's true, then it might be helpful to make more explicit the various kinds of actions that constitute this transpartisan movement and relish the interplay between "collective action" and the "radical act" of dialogue itself. > > My two and a half cents, > Jacob > > p.s. Rick, Michael, I didn't read Sandy as discouraging theoretical/intellectual exploration in our exchanges - only reminding us of our beginning intentions as a listserv to tie these kinds of discussions to the practice of transpartisan work itself. I appreciated hearing from her why some people have reported distancing themselves from the conversation. Why not take her feedback seriously and work together to make this listserv an (even more) welcoming and accessible "watering hole" for transpartisans of many stripes?...including theoretical/philosophically-inclined ones! In the spirit of Aristotle's "practical philosophy," surely thinking carefully together about various interpretations of practice will continue to be a helpful (and inescapable) part of high-quality deliberative work? > > ############################ > > To unsubscribe from the TRANSPARTISAN list: > write to: mailto:TRANSPARTISAN-SIGNOFF-REQUEST@LISTS.THATAWAY.ORG > or click the following link: >


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