Natalie Solent

Politics, news, libertarianism, Science Fiction, religion, sewing. You got a problem, bud? I like sewing.

E-mail: nataliesolent-at-aol-dot-com (I assume it's OK to quote senders by name.)

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Jane's Blogosphere: blogtrack for Natalie Solent.


( 'Nother Solent is this blog's good twin. Same words, searchable archives, RSS feed. Provided by a benefactor, to whom thanks.
I also sometimes write for Samizdata and Biased BBC.)

The Old Comrades:

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006
Two more from Professor Grayling. Or rather, one plus a postscript. I'll mentally file them under the heading "the luxury of anonymity", since both touch on that topic.

Here is the first email:

"Dear Natalie Solent

"I managed to glance at some of the emails you mentioned, for which thanks. A comment not on the blogs but on those of the bloggers - chiefly 'Reader A' - who argue ad hominem: robust debate is good, but whether directly or by tone, ad hominem remarks (and I include derogatory references to academics as a class - does this carry residues of career disappointment?) do little to advance matters. In the case of Reader A in particular, whose thought is confused, both the luxury of anonymity and the need to externalise his/her own difficulties with logic might explain the irritation behind the remarks, but surely a well-intentioned interest in getting the issues clear would have no room for this. - Good wishes and again my thanks - Anthony Grayling"

He then added,

"PS I meant to ask - why do you use a pseudonym? There is a case for saying
that we should own & acknowledge our views if we are sincere about them - ?
Best - Anthony."

It all started because my husband's family name is rather unusual. When I started blogging he was a supply teacher. That meant he had to get work in a new place every few days. Since I intended to be very rude about the follies of the teaching profession, I thought it best not to have any prospective employer who did a search on his name throwing up umpteen references to me, or to put him in an awkward position in the staff room when he had got work. ("I do hope you are not related to that awful woman!")

I do see the point that debate is politer when one has to live with the public consequences of what one has said. The trouble is that these public consequences can take fair or unfair forms.

One thing that mitigates against irresponsibility on the part of pseudonymous writers like me is that a long-running pseudonym such as "Natalie Solent" itself acquires a "brand value."

(Another, more idiosyncratic reason for adopting a pseudonym is that the real me suffers from a crippling disadvantage: I was frightfully well brought up. I am nice. Much too nice to argue. My response to face to face disagreement with people I don't know well is to apologise for breathing air that someone else might want to use. In order to fulfil my life-potential I simply had to liberate my inner sarcastic cow.)