Difference between revisions of "Weirdness in the Strange Times"

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[b]Weirdness in the Strange Times[/b]
 
[b]Weirdness in the Strange Times[/b]
  
Ironically, there's no true weirdness left in the Strange Times. It all changed flavor when strange became commonplace. I reckon this happened within the last ten years, as the information age is kicking into high gear. So many people are defining their own norms that there is no real abnormal anymore. We're eclectically ecstatic, subculturally pragmatic.
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image: http://craphound.com/images/fursvsklingon.jpg
  
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These are the Strange Times, a period in history where the "mainstream" is being fed by so may bizarre tributaries that there is no central narrative anymore. Arguably this was happening before the internet plugged everybody into everybody else, but now its impossible to ignore. We are living in a time when anyone can access the fringes of humanity and then identify with them.
  
Culture is additive, it keeps building on itself. I recently saw this terrible vampire movie. It occured to me that this particular retelling of the Vampire Archetype was told with all the other vampire movies in mind. Lost Boys, Anne Rice, Blade, all that crap was considered when they made this year's terrible vampire movie. The teenagers who are just now getting into vampires have identified with this ''particular'' twist on Brahm Stoker's 1897 novel. Stuff just keeps getting more complicated. I mean, 370 movies were released in the year 1995. By 2005, they were making ''549'' movies per year. By 2015 we'll be [i]drowning[/i] in cultural reference points.
 
  
I posit that on average, kids growing up today have a lot more ''varied'' experiences than those who grew up 50 years ago. I grew up in the 80s and my childhood mythology was filled with robots and cowboys, lasers and swords, communists and dinosaurs. In some ways it was a synthesis of everything that had happened in culture up to that point. The battle between communism and democracy happens in the subtext of every episode of GI Joe. In your mythology are robots good guys or bad guys? It largely has to do with the accidental intersections of culture and upbringing. Everybody gets imprinted differently -- increasingly differently as the decades march on. There is no "average" left to represent.  
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Ironically, there's barely any true weirdness left in the Strange Times. It all changed flavor when strange became commonplace. I reckon this happened within the last ten years, as the information age kicked into high gear. So many people are defining their own norms that there is no abnormal left. Even if you're the one blue haired girl in white bread town, you ''know'' you're not alone, not really, not anymore. We're eclectically ecstatic, subculturally pragmatic.
  
  
So if we want to find the Weirdness in the year 2008, we just have to look around. Pick out some random pedestrian and I guarentee he has talents and tastes and interests which are vastly different from yours. There is a fractillian chasm between you and even your closest of friends. How can you judge me weird for obsessively collecting boxes full of hundreds of the "do not eat" silica packets that come with new shoes, when ''you'' haven't missed a women's basketball game in ten years? And you think ''I'm'' weird? It's a wonder we can even communicate.  
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Culture is additive, it keeps building on itself. I was recently dragged to see this terrible vampire movie. It occured to me that this particular retelling of early 18th century folklore was told with an awareness of all the other iterations on the same myth. Lost Boys, Anne Rice, Blade, all that crap is a real part of the subtext and expectations of any "Vampire" movie. The teenagers who are just now getting into vampires have identified with this ''particular'' twist on the myth. It's got all that darkness and goth and romanticism built into it, but ornamenting this year's fashions. As we move forward, stuff just keeps getting more nuanced and complicated.  
  
  
People seek out others with their particular quirks and interests. And when a group of people get together, their cause becomes "legitimate", it becomes "real". These groups attract newbies, they become a location for discourse about these topics, and their very existence perpetuates itself. This is the Strange Times and no niche is too weird to acquire a cult of fanatics. That's why there's a "Furries vs Klingons" bowling tournament in Atlanta. That's why even conspiracy nuts have their own subsects of horrormirth
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370 movies were released in the year 1995. By 2005, they were making ''549'' movies per year. By 2015 we'll be ''drowning'' in cultural reference points.
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And because this is the Strange Times, no variation of any myth is truly weird anymore. We've seen the Vampire in a bewildering cavalcade of guises: the hero, the beast, the wanderer, the wiseman, the trickster... We keep trying new combonations and hope that it makes for an interesting juxtaposition. To some extent, the only weirdness left is in novelty. The only things which startle us, which make us step back in wide-eyed confusion, are challenges to our expectations. The weirdness is in the rare media which isn't just antithesizing and synthesizing existing ideas.
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Living in the 21st century, we have all this information being fired at us, bouncing off the prismatic information we've already internalized. Everybody mind is made of differently shaped prisms. And to some extent, that's your identity.
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So if we want to find the Weirdness in the year 2009, we just have to look around. Pick out some random pedestrian and I guarentee he has talents and tastes and interests which are vastly different from yours. There is a fractillian chasm between you and even your closest of friends. How can you judge ''me'' weird for being obsessed with pure nonsense, when ''you'' haven't missed a women's basketball game in ten years? And you think ''I'm'' weird? It's a wonder we can even communicate.
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To contextualize this internal weirdness, people seek out others with their particular quirks and interests. And when a group of people get together, their cause becomes "legitimate", it becomes "real". Maybe you thought you were the only woman attracted to balloons, but soon you will learn you are not alone. These groups attract newbies, they become a location for discourse about these topics, and their very existence thereby perpetuates itself. This is the Strange Times and no niche is too weird to acquire a cult of fanatics. That's why there's a "Furries vs Klingons" bowling tournament in Atlanta. That's why even the fringes of conspiracy nuts have their own subsects to separate the credibility from the insane.
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This discussion has been about trying to conceptualize the weirdness in the weirdest era in human history. I find it a bit like someone waking up and saying, "I had the weirdest dream last night." Do tell, if that dream was so weird, what is a ''normal'' dream like? Like dreams, all people are weird, and we have that, ironically, in common.

Revision as of 20:45, 6 January 2009

[b]Weirdness in the Strange Times[/b]

image: http://craphound.com/images/fursvsklingon.jpg

These are the Strange Times, a period in history where the "mainstream" is being fed by so may bizarre tributaries that there is no central narrative anymore. Arguably this was happening before the internet plugged everybody into everybody else, but now its impossible to ignore. We are living in a time when anyone can access the fringes of humanity and then identify with them.


Ironically, there's barely any true weirdness left in the Strange Times. It all changed flavor when strange became commonplace. I reckon this happened within the last ten years, as the information age kicked into high gear. So many people are defining their own norms that there is no abnormal left. Even if you're the one blue haired girl in white bread town, you know you're not alone, not really, not anymore. We're eclectically ecstatic, subculturally pragmatic.


Culture is additive, it keeps building on itself. I was recently dragged to see this terrible vampire movie. It occured to me that this particular retelling of early 18th century folklore was told with an awareness of all the other iterations on the same myth. Lost Boys, Anne Rice, Blade, all that crap is a real part of the subtext and expectations of any "Vampire" movie. The teenagers who are just now getting into vampires have identified with this particular twist on the myth. It's got all that darkness and goth and romanticism built into it, but ornamenting this year's fashions. As we move forward, stuff just keeps getting more nuanced and complicated.


370 movies were released in the year 1995. By 2005, they were making 549 movies per year. By 2015 we'll be drowning in cultural reference points.


And because this is the Strange Times, no variation of any myth is truly weird anymore. We've seen the Vampire in a bewildering cavalcade of guises: the hero, the beast, the wanderer, the wiseman, the trickster... We keep trying new combonations and hope that it makes for an interesting juxtaposition. To some extent, the only weirdness left is in novelty. The only things which startle us, which make us step back in wide-eyed confusion, are challenges to our expectations. The weirdness is in the rare media which isn't just antithesizing and synthesizing existing ideas.


Living in the 21st century, we have all this information being fired at us, bouncing off the prismatic information we've already internalized. Everybody mind is made of differently shaped prisms. And to some extent, that's your identity.


So if we want to find the Weirdness in the year 2009, we just have to look around. Pick out some random pedestrian and I guarentee he has talents and tastes and interests which are vastly different from yours. There is a fractillian chasm between you and even your closest of friends. How can you judge me weird for being obsessed with pure nonsense, when you haven't missed a women's basketball game in ten years? And you think I'm weird? It's a wonder we can even communicate.


To contextualize this internal weirdness, people seek out others with their particular quirks and interests. And when a group of people get together, their cause becomes "legitimate", it becomes "real". Maybe you thought you were the only woman attracted to balloons, but soon you will learn you are not alone. These groups attract newbies, they become a location for discourse about these topics, and their very existence thereby perpetuates itself. This is the Strange Times and no niche is too weird to acquire a cult of fanatics. That's why there's a "Furries vs Klingons" bowling tournament in Atlanta. That's why even the fringes of conspiracy nuts have their own subsects to separate the credibility from the insane.


This discussion has been about trying to conceptualize the weirdness in the weirdest era in human history. I find it a bit like someone waking up and saying, "I had the weirdest dream last night." Do tell, if that dream was so weird, what is a normal dream like? Like dreams, all people are weird, and we have that, ironically, in common.

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