Monday, August 18, 2014

Acquiring Faith

Going forward, I should try to make it clear why I've said something irascible.  I felt I did a good job on the last post explaining why I had put in the katana reference - and the specific way that I addressed Issara's comments on Greek City democracies seems to have hit a positive nerve also.

There's no question about it.  I do search for universal laws that can never be wrong.  That is my nature.  It emerges from my heroes having been fellows - mostly scientists - who demonstrated something to be true beyond a shadow of a doubt, silencing critics and expanding the envelope of human knowledge.  Unfortunately, I did not pursue science as a career - and thus I entrenched myself in a world where doubt rules.  People do not call for 'proof' in order that they may change their minds; they demand proof as a justification for why they should never change.  In science there is proof.  In rhetoric there is only opinion.

I don't know why I chose the latter.  In the beginning I certainly preferred science.  I read all that I could consume, I set out to collect bugs and study the stars, as well as other aggressive activities, in an effort to apply that science - but in the end, as I got closer to how a career in science would manifest, I withdrew.  I did not want to be a bottle washer.  I did not want to push electrons for a living.  I was in love with the glamour of writing about things . . . and I suppose that is how I wound up doing this.

This matter of 'universal laws' has been preying upon me all weekend.  There are laws that apply to rherotic and presentation, but they're much more squiggly than laws applying to math.  One plus One is never only Two in the soft sciences - because, in fact, 'one' is never just 'one.'  The reader's one and my one are completely different animals, raised in vastly different environments and responding to the present environment very differently.  The fact that I or you ever see eye-to-eye is a mystery; how can we, when I operate upon my abilities and expectations, while you operate on yours?

Suppose I make a proposition - say, that the work done upon the game should be of this nature or towards this purpose.  First, I must begin by justifying the purpose - a justification which may never be accepted.  I must argue that 'my' purpose has relevance for you.  I must somehow elaborate upon the possibility of the purpose I expound having a credible superiority to the purpose you already embrace.  This is already insurmountable, IF the purpose you embrace is one that you've adhered to since the beginning of your experience.  It has perhaps never occurred to you that there will ever be a reason to change - whereupon you encounter someone who is suddenly saying, "you must change if you're to improve."

Why should you improve?

At the beginning, therefore, I am dead in the water.  If change is not needed, not searched for, not even conceived of, how shall I promote the means by which change happens?  I might just as well describe the workings of a sewage plant in answer to someone seeking directions to the theatre.

As a writer, then, I rely upon a certain percentage of the readership feeling 'lost.'  The game is not working for them.  They've tried a set number of tactics, all of which have failed.  They encounter my proposed tactic and try it only because it is the next in a long line of experiments.

I find that praiseworthy.  After all, I did come from science.  I'll respect anyone willing to experiment.  Hell, I like to experiment even when there is no need to experiment.  I never know what I'll stumble across in the process.

This post is an experiment.  I've stopped and started a few times now, worried somewhat that I'm going up my own asshole.  Still, I feel that there's something to be said here.  The habit most have - and I think it is a legitimate habit, based upon the tried and the true - is to lash out against anything different or out of the norm.  The failure, I think, isn't to be found in hating a new idea, it is in finding reasons to hate a new idea.  I can appreciate the reader who simply says, "No, I'm not going to try that."  I feel somewhat less about the reader who feels the idea must be torpedoed - most often with the sort of quibbling that was addressed in the last post.

It may be that the idea deserves derision.  Some ideas are stupid.  I've certainly progressed a long way with ideas, first advanced on this blog, elaborated on and then eventually abandoned.  Invention and innovation includes failure, not just once or a few times, but constantly and discouragingly.  Some ideas really should be slaughtered in the pen before they're allowed outside.

Before this can be done usefully, however, the crux of the idea must be understood - and as a species, we are awful at trying to understand things before finding reasons to hate them.  We would much rather put that cart before that horse.

There is a whole other point to be made, I suppose, for why we continue to love things that were long ago demonstrated to be silly, not of much use or otherwise non-productive.  But that would be the reverse of what I'm speaking - and I don't wish to take it up now.

I don't expect anyone to read this and suddenly find themselves more inclined to consider or embrace the new.  It is not in our nature.  Writing this has been more of an exercise than a prescription.  I'm seeking a better understanding for why I react so aggressively when advancing ideas, which are in turn shot at by angry mobs.  These mobs rarely hit anything - but from my perspective, they fill the air with so much ammunition that they're able, somehow, to convince themselves otherwise.  Whereupon I very stupidly feel compelled to argue that they've missed - while they clap each other on the back and head home.

That really shouldn't piss me off as much as it does.

It comes back to letting people be wrong.  It means having faith that some people saw the same duck-shooting farce that I saw.  That is the lesson I never learned - still haven't learned.  I still think that making an argument depends upon my preaching both to the backs of those walking away and the choir that's waiting to sing.

I have to learn how to have faith in people.


Jomo Rising said...

Is this similar to letting incompetent people receive their consequence? My co-worker does shoddy work that I feel compelled to fix. Ends up being a pain in my butt because he doesn't care that he's doing it wrong, nor that I fix his stuff. We want people do do things right, but if they don't care to, I let it irritate me.

VeronaKid said...

"I must argue that 'my' purpose has relevance for you."

If I am not mistaken, this is the crux of this post, Alexis. If I am correct, then I believe that one of the primary things that would drive you to ponder such things and then spend several minutes sharing them out loud would be one simple truth that I have noticed over and over again about the internet in general and blogging in particular. Namely, that we the readers are far better at offering criticism than we are at offering praise.

Hopefully this doesn't sound too pedantic, but if there is something that you need to have in faith in, it is that there are scores of us out here that come here day in and day out because of the fact that you offer a change, that you propose experiments with something that we love, and that a lot of the ideas you come up with (8 HP orcs for the win!) are sound, well-researched, and presented in a light that makes it obvious we share the same passion.

Have faith that you do not have to argue your purpose every time. Take solace in the fact that there are readers that trust your ability to improve, to enlighten, and mostly to question the way that things have always been.

Barrow said...

It means having faith that some people saw the same duck-shooting farce that I saw.

Yes, for every quibbler that is chased down and shaken, please know there is at least one reader who is waiting for the crux of the idea to regain focus.

Alexis Smolensk said...

I'll try to stop quibbler shaking, Barrow.