Sunday 30 April 2023

"I am also a clown", addressed to Professor Robert Yelle (Dr. Robert A. Yelle)


I notice that you have not been willing to read even 1,000 words of my own writing, nor to watch a single youtube video, in terms of "reciprocating" this intellectual exchange.

You do realize that I read your paper (in full) when you sent it to me, yes?

Do you not think basic human decency might entail that you show SOME interest in what I've done with my life in the last ten years, whether by asking a question, or by reading something I've written, or by listening to some monologue or another I've posted to the internet?

I've reached an audience of roughly seven million views (which is not seven million viewers, I note) all of whom showed more interest in me than you have.

Perhaps you do not find me an interesting person, and perhaps you do not find my stories of Laos, Cambodia, Yunnan, etc., to be of any substance at all, etc. —but there is really something remarkable for you to reflect on, in just how self-centered you've been in this conversation.

You did not answer anything I said about Machiavelli or Harrington's "Commonwealth of Oceana".

It wouldn't take any great depth of character on your part to show some interest in that —even if you had the most haughty and contemptuous attitude imaginable toward what I've done with my life.

Now let me be frank: when I put your name into youtube, what do I see?

How many people do you think have read your published work, Robert?  How many do you suppose ever will, in the next century?  I used to work in the non-fiction book publishing industry: I know how small the numbers are for subjects far more popular than yours.  Your audience is measured in the dozens, and the metrics on youtube demonstrate this fact.

I am a real intellectual, and you know it, but I'm also a clown, e.g., the following, and please note that this video is only three minutes long:

Now look: I taught myself Pali without a teacher, and I taught myself Laotian while sleeping under a mosquito net, chopping firewood to boil the drinking water, and having no electricity in Northern Laos, etc. —I have lived a remarkable life (that you take zero interest in) being "a real intellectual" without any of the support of the academic establishment that you take for granted.

But I'm also a clown: my virtues are not intellectual only —nor are they emotional only —nor are they ethical only.

Really re-examine what your attitude has been in this correspondence: you take and take and take, giving nothing in return —not even curiosity.  And this has been my experience with you for decades now: I can look back at the correspondence you sent me when I was in Taiwan and say —genuinely— that you're an utterly despicable human being.  At some point, Robert, you have to give, instead of taking; and giving involves caring about people, learning from people, and taking an interest in what they're interested in —even if that is just allowing the conversation to expand to include Machiavelli and Harrington (rather than just your monomania for Hobbes).

Robert: do you think you're going to meet ten people more brilliant than I am in the next ten years?  I hope you do.  I hope you meet twenty.  I've seen that video of you "livestreaming" with your assembled colleagues and graduate students: those people don't have enough brilliance to find their way out of a paper bag.  You're surrounded by bureaucrats pretending to be intellectuals, and on some level, you know it.

Why did you send me this essay about Hobbes in the first place?  Were you expecting the same kind of cow-eyed flattery that you get from your graduate students?  You knew me as a Pali scholar, inasmuch as you knew me at all: there was something you wanted from me in this correspondence and you ONLY wanted that thing from me —thinking only of yourself, and what you could take, not what you could give.

Oh, and did this discussion turn out to be too emotionally disturbing for you?

Was it simply too hard for you to cope with someone expressing skepticism (true skepticism!) about your interpretation of Hobbes that would overturn the evidence of about 99% of what Hobbes had written, on the basis of an esoteric (and symbolic) interpretation of 1%?  Oh, perish the thought!  Perish the thought that you'd have to endure such skepticism, Robert!

You should certainly block my email and never speak to me again: certainly you should be the aggrieved party here, and I should be the one apologizing to you, not vice-versa —not after what happened during our last conversation (years ago) when I was in Taiwan, hm?

You imagine you have nothing to apologize for, hm?  You imagine that you have nothing to reflect on in this many-years-long non-relationship with me, and how it is you treated me when I reached out for the one kind of help you could have given that would have cost you nothing, i.e., advice in precisely the thing you're an expert in.  You imagine that you weren't haughty and contemptuous precisely when you should have been compassionate when I reached out to you, all those years ago, from Taiwan, hm?  Do you want me to send you those emails?  Do do you want to read them again and reflect on what kind of a man you are, and what kind of a man you've now become?