Monday, July 19, 2010

A conversation with Patrick Chapin

The Magic Show had Patrick Chapin on this week, and it was a great episode. I had my own conversation with Patrick via text message that I thought was worth sharing.

Patrick often cites "The Universe" as if it were some entity and not simply a category of things somewhat equivalent to "the set of all things." I'm a reductionist, so I don't find it helpful when someone brings up categories that are too broad to be useful. "The Universe wants you to _____" is meaningless. More generally, "The Universe ______" is a sentence structure that is unlikely to contain any useful information to anyone not studying or discussing the cosmos. Could I be misunderstanding what Patrick and others mean when they say "The Universe"? Sure, but that's the problem, if you mean some subset of the Universe such as a local environment or some collective consciousness, don't use the broad label. Don't speak in the form "Animals _____" when you wish to discuss only Golden Retrievers.

If I didn't think Patrick was smart enough to know better, I wouldn't bother. But I do, and I did.

Here's what I sent to Patrick via txt message:

"If you ask someone where to look for something, the answer 'everywhere' is as useless as no answer at all. So I ask you, where should I look for truth?"

I was hoping to illustrate the relationship between specificity of language and its utility. People understand this concept when it comes to giving directions, so I figured I'd use "where do I look?" language as a cue.

Here is what Patrick responded with:

"Everywhere. :) seriously."

I smiled when I received that text. He knows where I want to go, but he isn't interested in going there himself. Well played.

I've spent tens of thousands of words having the same conversation with others (most notably my own mother), and I think it says a great deal about my relationship with Patrick that we managed to understand each other (at least as much as is possible given our dispositions) in 1 txt each.

Still, despite his conciseness and stick-to-itiveness, I can't help but think that Patrick, just like my less concise mother, walks around trying to navigate a wilderness using a globe instead of a map.


  1. First, I read the heading of your blog:"A Magic: The Gathering Blog by Matt Sperling"

    And thought, oh, magic blog by a top player... but yet, all three posts, have nothing to do with magic? Good to know about your 2 setence conversation with another excellent magic player, that really brought up no insight in to your views, his views, how you feel any of this might be relevant or interesting to any reader other than your aforementioned mother.

  2. Matt has some good things to say once in awhile, especially when he wants to be serious about an issue. Otherwise, he's just another prick.

  3. In a contest to see who has the most haters, where does Matt Sperling line up among all the Magic writers?

    I don't get it. Why so much hate for Sperling

  4. Well, at least you know, specifically, where to look when you want to be treated like shit by anonymous trolls.

  5. This is not relevant to any interests.

  6. Generally, people hate what they fear or don't understand....they probably just hate on him because he's quick witted and they obviously aren't....

  7. It seems that most of your readers want to see decklists.

    I've enjoyed reading all three of your posts. I hope you continue to write here, and I hope you continue to write what you want.

  8. We don't want decklists, we just want something about magic. Otherwise, just save it for your friends and family in a monthly, "about me" newsletter.

  9. Fuck decklists you can get decklists on any other site you socios.


  11. SERIOUSLY? isn't this Matt Sperling's blog? or am i lost (again)? i think...yes i actually almost BELIEVE...that HE as the author of said blog may be allowed to post whatever he wants. Or are we in china? anyway, don't be mad because he probably has more going on in his life then whatever magic deck bullshit that you keep crying about. yo, freedom of speech is what's fucking brilliant, BRILLIANT! sooooooo how about you go write your own blog and stop reading his...because you know you have that freedom too, right?! :) xoxo

  12. I have enjoyed all of Mr. Sperlings witty and funny posts...all three of them. Maybe I am confused but all three posts do have to do with MTG in some degree and well Matt Sperling is writing it. So I think he met the criteria for a Matt Sperling Magic Blog.

  13. Hmmm...
    -I am always so happy when someone online reminds me of the most frequently-touted amendment of the constitution. Thank you.
    -No one asked for a deck list on this post. Lan D. Ho suggested (to my mind, facetiously) that some readers who had not enjoyed these posts might appreciate a deck list more. The following two posts disputed that claim, and none have supported.
    -It is true indeed that the author of the post may write whatever he wishes. It is also within the right of his readers to say whatever they wish, precisely because of aforementioned internet posters' very-most-favoritest amendment. Considering the aim of many blog writers is to gain a faithful reading audience, it is not beyond the realm of possibility to assume that criticism may be used to improve readership.
    -No, we are not in China. In that sense, you may be lost.

  14. thanks anonymous. i'm glad you need someone else to make you SO happy! after you get over your superiority complex then maybe you can grasp the sarcasm that i was spewing down here at my level. don't get it twisted. i am versed in the rights of citizens & fully support the fact that you (readers and responders as a whole) may comment as you "aim" was that whining and talking shit on someone else’s blog because they aren't writing what you (et al) want is just kinda lame....within your rights, but STILL LAME. Seriously, criticism can be constructive? NOOOOOOOOOO. never EVER heard that before. damn....patent that idea quick! super glad i can remind you about the most abused right in America because in China they don't have that freedom....shit was that the sarcasm again????????????????

  15. Can I get my Ancient Mew back please?

  16. You rock Conley!

  17. Yikes. I didn't necessarily mean to offend; I was truly confused as to why you were so upset with random internet trolls. While I agree that it's lame to blatantly insult someone else's writing for the hell of it (i.e. with the sole intent of making that person feel like crap), I would argue that it's just as lame to get super-angry over posts on a casual blog. I mean, there's an out-of-focus mountainscape in the background of this thing! The picture of chillness. I can almost see Julie Andrews in her sweet nun outfit. She is feeling top-notch indeed.

    For the record, I have no problem with the blog. Dude can string together sentences just fine. Granted, he came across as a douchebag first post, but like you said, perfectly within his rights--and it seems like he was pretty aware that would be a risk.

    Storytime/the one thing I'll say here that is perhaps more critical than one (read:I) would hope: Holding down a punctuation mark in a non-dramatic situation reminds me of my grandmother (Did you remember the coupon for broccoli soup at the store yesterday????????????????), and I am often semi-legit concerned that 16 question marks (the 16-Q, as I know it in a fond sense,) are a result of transient ischemic attacks. Take that as you will?

    Happy almost-Friday.

  18. Not offended at ALL and i'm not upset or angry either. You did come off a bit stank though, but don't read too much into my comments as i am another "random internet troll" (i'm far from being trollish, but i'll continue with your phrasing because we got this quote thing going on here).

    Don't think the author gives a shit what we think and he probably doesn't see his posts as risky. don't know the guy and don't know anything about the magic crap and deck lists and whatnot....honestly i did just randomly stumble onto this blog through twitter (love the sound of music by the way - now that you mention it, i can picture Maria spinning around on said hill. thanks for that one positive comment which we can share).

    Sooooooooooo your grandma spoke while holding down punctuation keys?! WEIRD! what, is it like a TYY style situation? Technology does a lot for the hearing impaired.

    damn! now are you going to count my os and infer something else? maybe another condition that may be caused my lack of intelligence? Please....hurry! i eagerly await your response. i cannot get through my day without you. i sit at home alllllllllllllll day waiting.'re going to count the ls now aren't you. you are far superior. i surrender.

    happy super almost Friday :)

  19. Dear owner of blog,

    Please accept my apology as I did not expect to generate a fanclub nor create a random tangent with my attempt to support your witty banter.

    Random internet troll
    a.k.a Lola Sunday

  20. I enjoyed Please continue.

  21. Regardless of the stupid fan argument above... HOW IS THIS AN MTG BLOG? Yes, he can write about whatever he pleases. But if he has any desire to maintain readership, and/or fans, he may want to post on topic. Or make it be known that this is his personal relationship discussion blog... not a Mtg blog. Just a suggestion, if he has any desire to reach an audience that might be interested.

  22. Fake Magic cards, fake Magic cards, conversation about how one of the most visible people in the Magic community thinks. NOTHING MAGIC RELATED AT ALL SO FAR. Read my column for strategy stuff. Non-strategy stuff I intend to post here.

  23. Since I participated in the aforementioned "stupid fan argument" it is just natural that I continue:

    2nd Anonymous of the "stupid fan argument",

    "But if he has any desire to maintain readership, and/or fans, he may want to post on topic."

    and you know this how? have you seen into the future? you could be making millions instead of wasting your time commenting on "stupid fan argument"s....this leads me to believe that maybe then you're the one that is lacking in the intellect department?? i don't really know & i don't really care. plus i'm not even a fan. i dont play this MTG (wtf?) magic decklists whatevers that you guys keep bitching about this guy Matt not writing enough about on his blog....please refer back to the beginning of my portion of the "stupid fan argument" to figure why i'm exercising my constitutional rights. THANKS!

    P.S. bring on the h couting too anonymous #1 of my "stupid fan argument"...what does my overuse of the letter h infer?

  24. haha, the overuse would be an implication. "imply." the reader would infer based on the implication. GAH.

  25. k well i'm a pornstar so feel free to school me on the vocab :) thanks!