Tuesday, September 4, 2012

An Update of Purpose

"If you can stand back and see that the other individual is an individual like me, who might have interests and values and feelings like mind, then you can make a bond."

Iain McGilchrist, speaking upon the human
 brain's capacity for empathy.

I've debated all weekend about addressing this subject, but now and then I'm driven to examine not only the world around me, and how it influences the various activities I pursue, but also myself.  Why do I behave in the way that I do; why do I write as I do; why do I take positions against other people; and why is it that so often those positions are spiteful, irreverent or abusive?

There have always been people who have said about me and my writings, "I like this or that, but the way he chose to say/write that particular thing really annoyed me, and I don't care about him."  The solution, it would seem to most people, is that I should write more kindly and sympathetically, in order to make the kind of connection that Iain McGilchrist above is talking about.  Others would have more empathy for my position if they viewed my position as similar to theirs, couched in feelings and values like the ones they possess.

If I must disagree with them, then I should do so empathically - concerned about their reactions to whatever I am saying, so that they are more likely to absorb what I am saying.

Here is the thing, however.  When I view the statement from McGilchrist above, I find myself immediately leaping to the conclusion that the average person I'm about to meet on the street is NOT an individual like me, and the he or she will NOT have interests and values and feelings like mine, and that we will NOT make a bond.  I have this conclusion not because I'm unreasonable or close-minded, but because for the last 17,520 days of experience, I so rarely meet anyone like me that the default position is to presume that any person I hear from almost certainly has nothing like my perspective of the world.

What's interesting about this is that anyone who HAS my perspective of the world is equally certain to have come to the same conclusions about the people THEY meet, so that they are as sick and tired of running up against the same sad, uninformed, uneducated, unreasonable and flat-minded people that I run against all the time.  Moreover, IF they ever hope to meet anyone of like-mind, they will without question be just as abusive and cold and emotionally cruel as I am ... in which case I will immediately recognize them as a kindred spirit, just as they will immediately recognize me as a kindred spirit.  This is the way it has always happened in the past, with those people whom I do share any affinity.  It never seems to bother this particular kind of person how abusive I am on the subject of stupidity or incapacity ... and I am never bothered by others who are abusive in like manner.  In fact, I have most often leapt to my feet in joy the moment I hear someone of this nature railing or ranting on screen or in lectures, or online as the case may be.  It is such a rare event, it is always a religious experience in that it brings out of me a need to cry, "SING IT BROTHER!" ... or SISTER as the case may be.

I have not been disappointed in the internet's ability to waft people occasionally in my path who - to some degree - share some of the viewpoints I possess.  It is a shame there are not more people who feel about D&D (or other subjects) as I do, but as this was to be expected from the beginning, I cannot say I'm terribly disappointed.  I have placed myself out there in public events and experiences in the past, so I have a good idea of the ratio of people like me as compared to people with whom I share no empathy.

Because I am clear about this reality, and the likelihood of my ever being "liked" for being the way I am, excepting the possibility of by chance producing something which will make me irrationally popular, in the manner that certain other historically unlikeable people have chanced to be popular, it should be surmised by the gentle reader that the purpose of this blog, and the content within, does not derive from a need to be popular.  Therefore, threats of unpopularity as a reason to change the content of this blog were in the past ignored, and will continue to be ignored.  The tree that is barked up is made of other wood than pandering to the crowd.  The wood here is grown to build factories, not temples, for engineers and not worshippers.

We have no comfy chairs and no hot chocolate.  There's only cold machinery here, and be careful where you step - a moving part is likely to rip your arm off.


Guy Fullerton said...

Given the words in the explanation, I would have expected simply carrying on ... with no need for an explanation.


FWIW, I enjoy some of your postings.

Anonymous said...

Isn't there something to be said for tolerance toward those who are NOT of a like mind? I understand if you have encountered those who take issue with the tone of your blog (I'm a long-time reader and fan, BTW). I understand if your experiences have brought you up against those who would ridicule you. Indeed, who among us has not been ridiculed, especially those of us in the roleplaying hobby?

I think that some folks who take issue with your writings are perhaps a bit too sensitive and are not reading deeply enough, to see beyond the medium to the message contained therein. But I doubt that these individuals are seeking to make you change your very way of thinking, or the content of your blog, or the tone in which you write on this blog. I think that most just wonder about a seeming lack of tolerance on your part for readers who have a different mindset, who you seem to dismiss out of hand due to some perception on your part regarding their inferiority or motives.

Thanks for being a unique voice in the RPG blogo-realm!

Alexis said...

There might be something to be said for tolerance.

However, not all intolerance derives from random, insupportable causes. We do not tolerate the position of racism. We do not tolerate those who preach violence. We do not ask for greater tolerance for pederasts.

In my particular case, I have no tolerance for ignorance. None of my "people" do.

Thank you for the support, anthony ... it is good to know you're out there.