The art of debate is all about finding the reflexive AGH! button first, and for No Impact Man it's all about Diced Cat Koan

Juli Kearns Uncategorized 11 Comments

All right, I now officially (in my bemused world) take up the role of No Impact Man’s nemesis, at least for today, or this morning, because everyone needs a lazy nemesis for balance, a lazy nemesis who doesn’t even bother to post comments on your blog because the last thing they want to do is do a non-debate with a Show Man who has himself professed to being a Not So Much Common Sense Man, but most of all because No Impact Man needs petty recalcitrants like me who won’t prostrate themselves at his bicycle-toned toes when he assumes the position of Nam Cheon’s cat.

No Impact Man, thinking to take down a notch certain critics of his who were apparently querying him on his housekeeper, says the cat is the blue planet and we are not to argue any more about it but all work together for solutions. What No Impact Man, the Show Man, was really doing was saying, “Quit querying me about my housekeeper, you cat killers!” He did this because he knows that few lovers of the blue planet will not be knee-jerk horrified with being called cat killers.

I don’t care about No Impact Man’s cleaner or housekeeper. I don’t care whether he has a nanny or not. He and his wife can spend their respective monies however they desire. But some had questioned him on this, bringing up the idea of class and his position in the class wars and a touch of elitism enabling his current life style while those of the lower tiers were necessarily left out of the privileges of No Impact which some are now calling the fashionable New Black. In response, No Impact Man knee-jerked like he had an army of detractors after him (when, in fact, the comments on his blog are overwhelmingly supportive) and pulled out Nam Cheon’s cat. The housekeeper (he says she is a “cleaner”, that he doesn’t have a “housekeeper”) has nothing to do with Nam Cheon’s cat except by design of No Impact Man’s showmanship, but the ploy worked. There were apologies and No Impact Man said well he gets sensitive some times and accepted the apologies.

According to No Impact Man’s many supporters, I, as a critic, am one of the unexamined masses on the internet who are in shock, defensive and scared of No Impact Man. Fact is, I wouldn’t be a critic of No Impact Man if he came right out and said, “OK! The reason I’m doing all these not-so-common-sense things in my 5th Avenue digs is because I’m a show man, I have a book to sell, and this makes great publicity! I don’t use toilet paper because I knew this, if anything, would capture America’s attention! I climb all these stairs and don’t take the subway because I’m your Marathon Man! But just you wait, when The Experiment is over and it’s time for me to sell my book, I’ll be flying all over to make sure you’re buying. Because, after all, I’m a writer, and it’s real dandy that my passion for the environment dovetails just nicely enough with my ambition to sell that I will give up my computer (while depending on a freebie intern to do my freebie DSL networking) for your amazement, but doesn’t get in the way of my plans, when the show is over, to climb on my plane and fly to your town to sign my book! Hurrah!”

No Impact Man can’t admit to the above for the same reason a magician isn’t likely to drag out the mechanics of his tricks on a stage and run through them with you step by step.

“Look!” says No Impact Man, “No toilet paper!”

People gasp in amazement that anyone could go without toilet paper.

“Look!” says No Impact Man, “No computer!”

People gasp in amazement that he is going no electric and will still be able to blog. How does he do it?! It’s a Big “M” Mystery! And certainly it will be! I couldn’t go uncompromisingly no electric and continue to blog, no way! But then I’m not the magician that No Impact Man is!

“Look!” says No Impact Man, “Not only am I No Impact Man, I’m No Gender Issues Man because I am the House Husband who loves doing what has been classically called the drudgery work of cleaning house and cooking meals!”

A few people grumble that he doesn’t include his Cleaner in that equation, noting that taking care of the household without appliances really did used to be a full-timed job and that making this no appliance move, without housekeeping help, is something many families and women can ill afford. Whereas I call it Showmanship, they call his pulling this off a luxury.

And No Impact Man pulls out of his magic hat Nam Cheon’s cat.

“Look!” cries No Impact Man, playing Nam Cheon, holding the knife to Nam Cheon’s cat, which he also is!

How does he do it?! How can he be both the cat and Nam Cheon (or however you spell it) at the same time?! Squawk! Even more amazing is that the audience intuits No Impact Man is both cat and the blue planet and the venerable channeler of Nam Cheon when he makes them believe he isn’t even holding the knife, instead he makes it appear to be held solely in the hands of The Petty. People stumble over themselves to apologize for those who have driven him to this mind-boggling display of superior restraint! The Petty dance with shock and surprise away from the blade! Forgive us, please!

Look! The house cleaner lives! Within the month she will be complaining about no longer having a vacuum (horrors!) but she lives! The blue planet is saved! No one may again contend with No Impact Man without becoming Cat Killers!

As a bonus, we learn from No Impact Man that the Koan of Diced Cat is quite literally all about the art of debate and compromise and the ability to find the reflexive AGH! button first and slam it, bringing friendly fire queriers to their shivering knees.

From here it’s got to be all downhill, entertainment wise. I don’t know how No Impact Man could possibly beat this.

Personally, I hope No Impact Man succeeds where others have failed and captures the public’s imagination and makes super-consumerism a big no-no. And that’s just great if he makes a good living off it as well. Then he’ll at least be able to help with his volunteer intern’s DSL and electric bill.

Comments 11

  1. I’m more excited about the meeting of your two minds than I should be. I’m all for responsible choices and benefiting the planet, but I keep smelling ulterior motives hiding behind the wafting smugness. If someone chooses to make a profit while helping the planet, more to them, however, this pious stance, this “I’m not making an impact, but need others to continue making an impact so this will work” leaves me feeling suspicious. I think No Impact Man needs some checks and balances. More power to you.

  2. But our two minds aren’t meeting. No Impact Man isn’t even aware I exist.

    Which is for the best. As I was saying the last thing I want is a non-debate with No Impact Man. Plus, I don’t want his supporters tromping over here like great big elephants and stomping all over my posts’ comment fields letting me know how mean, very mean, so terribly awfully mean and naughty I am for daring to question No Impact Man. Because then they’d sic Nurse McPhee on me and she’d strike her big stick on the ground and I would be wholly unable to stop checking and balancing No Impact Man, even when I was exhausted with it and didn’t want to do it any more.

    Actually it’s kind of turning my big little book “Unending Wonders” into virtual blog life, because it’s all about (kind of, not absolutely) two characters checking and balancing each other all over the place, one of them being Low Impact and the other being very High Maintenance. Except I’m not High Maintenance and No Impact Man isn’t even aware I exist. At least in my book the two characters were aware of each other’s existence. Here, I ‘m just whaling against the wind (or is it wailing). Which, really, I’m very practiced at doing, since I wrote a goddamn book in which this kind of thing functions as a plot device for umpteen some pages.

    Anyway, “I’m not making an impact, but I need others to continue making an impact so this will work” should leave you suspicious.

    If you haven’t been over to Jim’s blog yet to read what he has to say about the paradox of how using less coal ultimately turns into using more, may I recommend it. As he says, we need government intervention and international treaties.

  3. Oh, but you two are meeting in my mind and that is satisfying enough.

    I did indeed go over to Jim’s blog and he had a wonderful post which only confirmed the feelings I get as I mow our lawn (chemical-free) with our manual
    mower as our neighbor’s Hummer blasts past.

    As for the man of little impact, I’m guessing he’ll catch wind of you one way or the other. He’ll have others Googling to see what’s being said. I’m guessing your dance with him (whether real or imagined in my own mind) is not over yet and I have every confidence you’d be able to hold your own.

  4. This has nothing to do with NIM, or anything important. For some reason I have always been interested in dialects, and I have noticed in my lifetime a generational change such that younger Texans like my daughter (who is 24) have lost the distinction that was invariably made in south Texas when I was growing up, between the pronunciation of wailing and whaling. My daughter, like people of all ages in most of the US, pronounces both as an unaspirated w, wailing and wailing. If I say that whaling is pronounced “whaling” she says, “right, wailing.” So her generation neither hears nor speaks a distinction between witch and which, etc.

    My wife, however, who was a Texan like me, did not make a distinction either, and invariably pronounced both words as whaling. It always startled me. I think it’s because her mother was from Charleston, although i am not sure of that. Kay would teach anthropology classes in which she spoke of cultures in which whaling at funerals was the custom. Those of her students who could hear the distinction, as I can, were puzzled by that for while. I hope she never said this about the Inuit or people like that, because her student might gotten a really strange idea about how they grieved for the departed.

    Sorry for the digression.

  5. Jim, you’re right, I hear no difference between whaling and wailing. I am guessing you put extra weight in the WH, as if a heavier exhalation. I don’t know whether this is a northwest thing. My parents were both midwest (my father growing up in Oklahoma and Missouri and my mother in Chicago) but my earliest years were in the northwest and a radio show host who had an ear for it once immediately pegged me as from the northwest. And Marty said when traveling in the northwest was when he first heard where much of the way I pronounced things came from.

    Marty says as much as you can grow up in Mississippi and have any kind of enunciation (his father, a singer, made a point of enunciating), that he has always heard and often pronounced the difference.

    Marty says I pronounce “wailing” as “whaling” that I put the h there. That surprised me as I don’t hear it. He says I pronounce “which” as “witch”, with no h. Which is weird to me that I don’t hear the difference between my “wh” in wailing and my blunt w in which.

    Aaron doesn’t make a distinction.

    Anyway, it’s “waling against the wind”. Funny, I’ve never used that expression ever before and had never questioned it in my mind. I just always pictured whales in my head when hearing it, though knowing it had something to do with blows, so I always pictured Ahab flailing against Moby Dick.

    But then I’m one who in my 20s told a Japanese woman that “burying the hatchet” meant really digging in and getting to work on something. No one had ever told me what it meant and to me this was the same as making an agreement, because if you’re really going to work together on something you have to get along, right? I had no idea of the idea of burying th hatchet. I thought it was just hitting a tree with the hatchet really hard, which was a display of vigorous intention to work hard and thus get along with whomever you were working.

    God, I’m half mortified and half laughing here. I don’t know which to be.

    The horror! The horror!

  6. Jennifer, no one knew I could even read until I was well into third grade (and I could, and on an advanced level–hard to believe–but somehow no one knew it) so I don’t remember phonetics class. I was pretty well left out of things and if they had phonetics class they probably sent me to the closet during it or piled the class into the closet and left me sitting at my desk. The only thing I remember about 2nd grade is having to come in early to try to learn multiplication, the teacher very frustrated with me because I couldn’t begin to get it, and me staring at the guy on the multiplication ski slope, completely perplexed. Other than that I was treated pretty much as if I was invisible. When they went down the rows having kids read aloud, I would start and the teacher would stop me, tell me not to pretend to read, and go on to the next student. (Actually this happened once and from then on I was just skipped.) Which always confused me because I loved reading. But no one could understand what I was saying. They wouldn’t even let me be in the school play. I mean, everyone was in the school play. Everyone. I was the ONE kid left sitting at my desk in the schoolroom while every other kid was in the school play! All because I sounded like a visitor from another planet or something.

    That was just plain mean.

  7. Why did they think you couldn’t read??? How bizarre. You must have felt like you were plopped down in a foreign land where no one understood you.

    My husband had similar experiences in 2nd grade. They thought he was beyond teaching… he was advanced as well and they were missing that. He was lucky in that his father did not miss it and put him in another school.

    I remember getting into trouble in the 2nd grade because we were told to sit and wait while the teacher finished something. I was bored so I started to look at the encyclopedias which were in arm’s reach of my desk. Why did I get into trouble? We were told to just SIT, not to sit quietly and read, but at least they acknowledged that I could read. What a bizarre and painful experience yours must have been.

  8. Oh, I was parsing things in the way a seven and eight year old parses them and was only vaguely aware they couldn’t understand me, because I understood myself perfectly well.

    A little matter of dyslexia and communication issues. I was eventually tested, when a younger brother was tested, which is when they learned I could read, and decided time would take care of things.

    The schools there were actually supposed to be excellent because of the number of scientists there and their wanting good educations for their kids. They were certainly better than the schools down south I’d later experience.

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