Monday, July 11, 2022

return of the Dark Tower syndrome

It's happened again. Someone whom I know to be sharp and intelligent wrote a reply to a contentious post of mine (in a blog comment section, not here) that was so determinedly ignorant and stupidly argued, and which even went so far as to refuse to accept my own evaluation of what my own opinion was, that I realized there was no point in replying, even privately: the Dark Tower syndrome had struck again.

This I've named for the reactions I got in the 1980s from both sides of the argument over the authenticity of The Dark Tower. It's when someone is so wedded to the truth and justice of their position on an issue that any finding of problems with it, even suggestions as to how to phrase a defense that would be more useful to people who'd like their concerns addressed, is considered as merely proof that you're sworn allegiance to the other side. To get this from both sides, as I did with the Dark Tower, is a rare achievement.

There could be an overlap here with how one responds to trolling, the asking of supposedly innocent questions which are just gotchas to open eternal quibbles, but I don't think that's the case here. If you're attacked by a troll and don't fall for it, you call them a troll, you don't accuse them of being loyal to the other side. And trolling only reveals itself after multiple exchanges, though it can be suspected earlier (and is often suspected wrongly), whereas the characteristic of Dark Tower syndrome is not a suspicion that the other person is trolling you, but a kind of huffy mulish defensiveness that appears from the beginning. The refusal to accept my own view of my own opinion is the final proof, the cherry on top.

I've not completely given up on the people who Dark Towered me, and I'm not giving up on this person either, but I'll be wary.

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