Practicing Etiquette, Issue I.IX
Robert Hayes Kee,
Department of Polite Aesthetic Praxis

We have entered the time of diminutional daylight, readers. Nietzsche warned us to guard against ”winter philosophy” as a source of ressentiment. We must not allow barren trees, snow, or layers of flannel to conceal the ever-beating heart of the world’s liveliness. I plan, as much as any other, to shift to a mode of solitary quietude while I attend to the many personal and domestic praxes that have been occluded from my attention by academic commitments. The predomination of my time by my commitments to my small desk in the back of the library will soon end.

The winter is a time of foregathering with consanguineous, rather than esthetic, interlocutors. This is frequently a stress to our politeness but does not reduce its importance. We must remember that while we spend most of our year amongst chosen company, we are not truly committed to an esthetic praxis of etiquette if it cannot be practiced with those who do not share our views on the best translation of Un Coup de Dés Jamais N'Abolira Le Hasard. I am personally rehearsing a look of vacant contentment to gloss over the scorn of knowing that my interlocutor has not read a poem of any quality (much less the aforementioned gem of Symbolist verse) since they matriculated from secondary education per aspera ad humum. I suggest considering a similar course to you, dear readers.

Robert Hayes Kee

November 28

Atlanta, GA

An interlocutor and colleague is failing their profession obligations and is impairing my ability to perform my creative praxis with this organization. What can I do to politely redress this shortcoming of my interlocutor?

As we have discussed before, the beginning of etiquette is the beginning of human’s ability to promise. This is well laid out in a polemic favored by this writer. One can live atop a mountain in piece quite politely, but if one has committed to be elsewhere, he does so impolitely. We must strive to make commitments that enhance our own creative praxis, that place us in the company of others’ powerful creative praxes. This is the function of the promise to the creative human and we cannot underestimate the value of it.

We organize together hoping for mutually enhanced creative praxes, but this requires the members of a pact to fulfill their duties. Should one fall short of the ideal, we become a chain with a weak link, or an even more vexatious metaphor. Creative unions of any kind are rarely done with definitive structures. These impair the energetics of motion, and thus there is no clear path to handle the imparity of our interlocutors.

Plato addressed Heraclitus’ river stating that if it were true a human would be able to steal from him and then claim that transgression was the doing of another. The transgressor was not the same person the next day, and Plato did not step into the same river to reach his Heraclitian interlocutor to make the accusation. Plato claims that the famous flux of Heraclitus prevents accountability for human action; he claims it obviates our ability to promise.

This model can be reversed to your benefit, reader. Replace the failing member of your organization with another. When the replaced member appears, disavow any knowledge of their existence, completely. Act with complete ignorance not just of their past involvement in your organization, but of their human existence. You have never seen your interlocutor before, their memory swept away in the flow of a bygone river. While repetition of this process is not strictly desirable, there is no limit to the number of times this act can be performed.

I have received a gift from an interlocutor I had no intention to requite this season. Am I obligated to reciprocate this gesture?

Without the coercive structure of an overzealous employer (this is one of the most egregious of the esthetic sins of capitalism), there will always be unreciprocated giving at the year’s end. It is unfortunate to be at either end of this imbalance, but we must handle its inevitable occurrence with grace. I have more recently been in your position than your interlocutor’s, dear reader, and am prepared to advise you accordingly.

I, and I assume you, reader, have a great many acquaintances who wish to increase the conviviality of our relation, and this fact occasionally presents itself in the manner you have outlined. Were I to reciprocate this giving, it would signal my mutual interest in their conviviality when no such desire exists. Do not signal in this manner, reader, or you will be back before me in circumstance of worse imbalance. If you are lucky, your interlocutor has presented you with some comestible, which you may consume privately and never mention again. If you are unfortunate, you have been presented with a durable good. Use of the durable good will forever bare the mark of its giver to that interlocutor, and you will be forced to converse on the topic of it at any mutual foregathering.

To avoid this hellish repetition, I can only suggest that you dispose of the item as permanently as possible. Remove this item from public ownership forever and place it in an inaccessible morass. There is no greater morass that bureaucracy and no more odious and dreadful bureaucracy than that of the constabulary. For this reason, I suggest using this item in a crime. Its role as evidence will remove it from private ownership indefinitely. If you are extraordinarily lucky, this object will implicate your interlocutor in the crime and obviate your need to confabulate with this human for some time.

Like many, I have an unfortunate familial relation, and they will be present at an impending gathering. This relation praises retrograde life esthetic praxes. Can I be critical of this relation in a direct way? What form of discretion is required?

This is indeed a common issue, dear reader. It is one that borders on universality. However the commonality of the issue is in pointed contradistinction to the commonality of the interests of familial relations. I am fortunate in this respect to belong to an exceedingly polite consanguinity, so I have little personal experience with this. I have attended the familial gatherings of others, most usually those of an amorous interlocutor, and seen this kind of unsolicited opination. As an outsider, I have always reserved comment, outside of the rare correction of a peripheral fact. When gathering similarly as an accomplice, I must advise the silent tolerance of loose use of truth, or even decency. The view that argument resolves ignorance is a myth of the Enlightenment. Do not promote such a view with your own praxis, dear readers.

You speak to a more familiar and familial situation, however, what to do when one of one’s own kith acts abhorrently. This is a more difficult delineation. Your foreknowledge of this human’s dolorific spoken praxis suggests an undesired familiarity. Without familiarity and consequence, one should rarely intervene in the errors of another. Your case seems to rise to the level of intervention, reader. The regularity of your interlocutor’s outbursts suggests a surfeit of sureness.

Take from this overabundance and redistribute it like the means of production in the hands of the proletariat. Selectively encourage every other member of your family of their correctness in specific, but differing, areas of knowledge. If your unfortunate relation no longer holds the monopoly on unwarranted self-esteem, they will likely be in too great a shock to hold forth in the expected manner. Should this fail, physical intervention is called for. Cyanide is said to taste of almonds. Consider their inclusion on your menu in the conclusory, Victorian manner.