L’esprit de l’escalier

How wins are sometimes lifelong fails in the making

At the end of every debate we all have moments where we wished we’d remembered to say one final thing—that final nail in the coffin. If only... The French call it stairwell humor—L’esprit de l’escalier, or what you thought to say after the door closed. English doesn’t have a precise word for after the fact, so we’re allowed to borrow from time to time.

We each have unique experiences that led us to here and now. Mine is different from yours, although all equally valid to diffuse the soldered neurons we no longer accept. We literally have a hundred different reasons for abandoning belief.

In debate, some say what we wish we had said—why didn’t I think of that? And others, (including our own statements from time to time) we sigh, look away from the screen, feel the implosion of dumb after hitting the send key, even if it’s just a typo. But, have you ever heard the opposition fall short of convincing, only to know that if they had thought just one step further, they would have had you dead to rights—like an opponent in chess missing his easy checkmate?

This was the feeling yesterday. Loy (as several other before him) had one more line he could have used to hands-down win the argument. It was synthesis of a subtly abrupt clause, one that would automatically turn every atheist into Loy’s corner, but he failed to seal the deal. One time (possibly in his entire life) he had the the opportunity, but chose an aposiopesis of thought, one that could change his life forever, unwinding years of neuronal fixation, causing every comment to be reread in full—I don’t know, you win! Have you ever heard such a thing?

Christianity is the ultimate example of the Tagalog word Layogenic: from far away, it’s OK, but up close it’s a big old mess, leading us to what the Germans say—Fremdschämen (a cousin to Schadenfreude) meaning vicarious embarrassment. I feel for the wasted potential of a life in servitude to an imagination revealed by those in power. Those who have never lived within its regulations themselves. One win that was easily won, and got away.



Author: jimoeba

Alternatives to big box religions and dogmas

31 thoughts on “L’esprit de l’escalier”

  1. That’s me all over……which is why I much prefer this keyboard ”talking”……I can type things, & think about it before sending…… I can add, re-word, delete, change…..whatever, until I’m satisfied I’m saying what I want to. Then the immediate answers or whatever will help me with saying a little more.

    I am not quick enough, nor comfortable enough with face to face. Many conversations are way out of my league with my grade 10 education as well, which tends to make me a listener. I also hate speaking.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Lol. That’s funny. It’s interesting that arguments rarely turn the debaters minds. Are we all so fixed in our beliefs? I’ve been in his shoes. Most of us here have. They often think if we just agree we will see, but we’ve already been there. They have rarely been here.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I doubt that I have ever changed anyone’s mind about anything. But I never know when I may have planted a seed. In the last paragraph of a brochure I wrote, I said, ‘I did not wish to anger anyone, but many people are upset to learn that someone does not believe in any god, much less theirs. However, if my words plant a seed of apostasy, I would be pleased.’

        Liked by 4 people

        1. I like that. That would be a good photo to add to a post (or mine) if you still have it. There are people watching that never comment. I was one of them a few years ago.

          Liked by 3 people

      2. They have rarely been anywhere but where they are. Anything that challenges/threatens their bubble existence is automatically dismissed outright, be it atheism, a competing theism or just plain old fashioned common sense.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Single discipline focus is dangerous, multi-discipline learning goes two ways. Learn all you can to prove your religious presuppositions, or just to learn. You can see where they both take you. I used to equate everything to my faith. That’s how we continue to justify the delusion. It takes a special circumstance to get free.

          Liked by 1 person

      3. It’s possible to change other peoples’ minds, but it’s not easy. According to one study:

        *Longer posts (with supporting details) are better than shorter posts.
        *clear and specific examples to support the point
        * links to supporting studies
        * some hedging linguistically on points (so certain points don’t come off as too strong and off-putting)
        * Avoid insulting the other person and extreme emotional tones when responding.
        * You have about 4 – 5 posts to convince the person.

        Even with all that you have a better chance of NOT changing the other person’s mind than of doing so.

        See this newspaper article about a study on this very topic.

        Also, people have a bias blind-spot. They often think they’re less bias than other people. The higher your bias blind spot, the more likely you’re to ignore the advice of peers and experts.

        See this study

        Add in the Dunning-Kruger Effect, the Backfire Effect, the plethora of other cognitive bias, the groupthink that is pervasive on social media sites, the anonymity that the internet provides so that it easy to forget that there is another human being on the other side and makes it easier to say abusive or thoughtless things to disembodied words on the other side, and the results are not really all that shocking.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Good article and study. Agreed…mostly. While my own personal experience doesn’t qualify me as any expert, I also recognize that now I have a disdain for staged spirituality, canned answers and predetermined dialog which is most of the “one size fits
          all” apologetics. It was my life for many years, and now it’s not. Maybe I have an “understanding bias”? I get it, but I don’t care for it.
          I’m all in favor of personal spirituality, but that is rare. Here I have a few contributors that are very spiritual and have chosen their own path outside groupthink. It’s refreshing. The big religions dial in the psychology to manipulate feelings are carefully honed into a science in themselves. When hearing faith arguments, it is easily anticipated because I’ve heard it all. Hell, I used to use them. My ears perk up for anything new or convincing (which is rare)
          So, my posts are short, and when relevant or unique I’ll throw in a link, but rarely do they get many clicks. I just don’t think many people now days make time or have time to read the long stuff here. WP is more of a pastime or hobby than anything, although it was comments here with some of the group that got me to think outside of the religious framework for the first time. Self awareness and bias fairness should be everyone’s goal. If we can’t validate our ideas against others, we need to rework our thoughts to aligned with common sensibility. Great points, always a pleasure to have your views here. Thanks.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Ah, but the wonderful thing about Blog Debates is even after the debate is ”closed” and you may be left frustrated at not making that ”killer point”, all you have to do is take a deep breath, compose yourself, and write another post.

    Personally, I’ve found the best points made are those where the ”opposition” won’t even participate!
    If they were previously chomping at the bit to try to rebut then you are reasonably assured that their silence tells you your point is made.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And yet loy, while you protest that you really believe the oranges, you are somehow driven, even obsessed, to defend the apples. Insecurity much?

      Liked by 1 person

          1. WP jollies/follies. Now your even more anonymous than Loy. I’ve seen this happen to a couple of other readers here. Not sure what’s up with that, but it was temporary.


            1. It does feel like Loypong now and then, donkeykong at others, then mystery date game with imaginary players. Hehe.


        1. You A “hold out”? To what? I’m confused. Are you trying to say people that don’t believe what you believe are trying to get you to not believe it, simply by saying that they don’t believe?
          How insecure is that?


    2. Imagination travels great distances at a sprinters speed, while facts carry too much weight—but, worth the wait! What part of the world are you in Loy?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, thank you Nan. I try to be well rounded, although I sometimes sacrifice depth in my approach. That’s why you’re here! I really count on all of you to fill in the holes. Thanks for the compliment. It means a lot coming from someone I regard so highly.

      Liked by 1 person

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