The exchange did not last more than 15 minutes, but given the passion with which he and I both held our respective views, plus the lateness of the hour and the effects of a few drinks, the whole thing quickly became intense, in a not-so-good kind of way. From the beginning of the conversation, I sensed that he was pushing my buttons, and my grad-school training kicked in. Grad School 101: When somebody pushes your buttons, push back, and find a way to draw some intellectual blood. As you can well imagine, passions flared quickly. Objectively speaking, I was way out of my depth; the last time I read postmodernism was in grad school, when I read a little Deleuze, and maybe a little Derrida, so I am not exactly in the best position to go into a debate with somebody who actually wrote his doctoral dissertation on these guys.
But I wouldn't give in without a good fight. So I tried to play a game of intellectual aikido/taichi with him; whatever I didn't understand (which was a lot), I simply rephrased in terms of what I do understand (phenomenology/existentialism), and then threw back at him as intellectual projectiles. And whatever I couldn't convert into intellectual projectiles, I simply dismissed with a stockphrase like, "Well, it is all very well to talk about this, that or whatever, but you really don't understand that such-and-such-and-such..." and then quickly moved the exchange back to familiar terrain.
An artist's impression of me throwing intellectual projectiles... well, just kiddin'
[Image taken from here]
Wow. Really? So after all this intense passion and name-calling, all he was willing to stake was a paltry piece of paper? Well, this shows us a few things, doesn't it? Ah well, what do you do?... As for me, I am now officially an intellectual masturbator. You know, come to think of it, this is not such an insult, after all: At least I get to orgasm...