Needless to say, I think that Curtis’s critique has a point, but it misses important dimensions of what is happening on the net. One of the reasons that I dropped comments boxes was that they started to act as a form of censorship; I became increasingly aware that posts were being warped by anticipation of what some commenters, seldom the most interesting commenters either, might say. Luke Heronbone was ridiculed for saying that comments boxes are ‘too nice’ but this captures a dimension of what is so insidious about them. The tendency in comments boxes and discussion boards is for them to more closely resemble banal sociality – in both its qualities of vacuous convivalitity and boorish aggression – than writing. A kind of commonsense politesse (and its other: personalized antagonism) descends, in which the de-personalising effect of writing is replaced by the comforting role of ‘being a person’, a face, again. I write precisely because it is the most effective way I know of ‘getting out of my face’. (I note the irony of illustrating this piece with faces; faciality is certainly worth a post of its own.) In spite of what postmodernity’s ubiquitious biographism would have us believe, writing allows one to escape one’s personal history: Spinoza (and Althusser, who followed him very closely in this respect) understood that freedom is only possible once we begin to apprehend the structural determinations that engender our illusion of being naturally autonomous subjects. Spinozist joy arises from a slow, careful dismantling of the self – not a temporary obliteration of the self by the use of intoxicants, but a sober, cognitive detachment from the sad passions that once agitated us.