Vox Newman

Are We Not Athenians? | May 10, 2011

Oh here’s a meta-moment for you.  I’m thinking about blogs: I’m writing my thoughts about this on my blog.  In doing so, I’m creating a new category called ‘Truth Diary’.  That’s sort of in opposition to my ‘Liar’s Digest’ and while I think I’ll be waxing philosophic here, it’s not quite ‘Newman Logic’ because this will reveal truths about an individual rather than muse about Life, The Universe and Everything.  And by the way if you have a fundamental truth about yourself you want to reveal in blog form contact me. neoclassical-academy-of-athens-in-greece-plato-socrates-athenian-voxnewman

I remember back when the blogosphere was the next big thing.  Back before the Huffington Post, Perez Hilton and Stuff White People Like they talked about this revolution: people would be sharing themselves with the world, their lives would be broadcast and then scrutinized and the most popular blogs would be the most honest ones.  That didn’t seem to happen.

The most popular blogs seem to be more like the ones above: news sources, celebrity gossip and observational humour seemed to have won the day.  And I guess that was true of the media that pre-dated the internet as well.

I kind of liked the idea that someone, somewhere would write about their life and another someone, somewhere else would read it and say ‘Hey, that’s like me!’

There’s this romantic idea about outsiders discovering that they had a community after-all.  This, as I see it, was kind of the force behind the internet in the first place with BBS/Newsgroups pre-dating the world wide web.

And, being an outsider myself, the idea appeals to me still.  Actually, I don’t know that I’m still an outsider (maybe I never was).  I used to have this ironic slogan I’d use when I was younger.  I’d proclaim “I’m normal, just like the rest of you!” to no one in particular because it amused me.

You see, I was a huge geek in high school, and I revelled in it.  Fantasy/SF books, comic books, some anime and of course video games and role-playing games were my thing.  I’ve always had this feeling that those things (especially Dungeons and Dragons) made me smarter.

But lately, I’ve thought, that wasn’t it.  They may have just have allowed me to find new ways to use my mind.  Those things are all math and imagination, and having to engage these things directly simply forced me to become better at analysing things.  That’s what I think.

It’s kind of (or exactly) like going to the gym: engage the machines and weights and your muscles get denser and bigger.  In fact, there’s a lot of chatter about the idea that games stave off dementia.  There are many articles about how to deal with dementia.  As a side note here’s the best game I’ve found for that.  That’s the internet flash version.  And an even better version is a modification of Warcraft 3.  It’s way more complicated and I liken it to putting together 1000’s of puzzles simultaneously in 30 minutes.

I guess that’s one thing about me: I’m a gamer.  If everything was equal and I had to choose something to do, writing and gaming would tie for first place, followed by dancing, photography and driving.  Those are the only things I feel that I have to do.  Other things, like watching TV/movies, reading, drinking on a patio, hiking, camping, swimming anon, are just fun things to do to pass the time.

So, I’m really just a geek at heart, and a pretty big one at that: maybe an outsider.

But, unlike in the past, I’ve come to discover that everyone’s essentially an outsider.  It’s something I’d never considered until my 3rd decade of life, and maybe it’s not ‘true’ but I like to think it is.  And if that’s true, then the fact that it’s true means that my old slogan is essentially true too.


In any case, when I think about how my gaming contributed to my life (beyond general fun) I come to the decision that it expanded my skills of reasoning, deduction, calculation, critical thinking, tactical awareness and dulled my innate competitiveness.

You might think that last bit is a disadvantage, but I don’t.  I was way too competitive when I was young and I hated losing so much I’d get angry about it.  Thinking you can always win is a fallacy.  No one ever has.  It’s been said that the greatest people failed a lot.  So, if you can’t accept failure, you’re gimped.

But what I imagine my interests have done for me is fostered the ability to just rest and think.  I may do that more than I sleep.  It would be nice if our society embraced a culture that promoted thinking as a pass-time.

When I muse about this topic, I’m reminded of a character from an old 50’s movie.  I don’t remember the name of the movie, but I really wish I did.  It was brilliant in the way that movies from that era had real characters.  Not that today’s don’t, but it seems like in the last few decades that, more and more often, characterization has been replaced by quirky qualities as if they were the same thing.

In any case, the premise of the movie was that a middle-class cousin was taken into the care of her upper-class uncle in (I think) New York.  Her female cousin saw her as a threat because she was beautiful and soon became popular at the debutant parties.  Her male cousin was a friend to her.  And it’s his character I loved in this movie.  All he did all day was sit and think.  In fact, he thought so much that he’d already surmised where the plot was going and how to resolve the major conflicts of the movie.  No one listened to him, however, because he was seen as indolent and useless because all he did was sit and think all day long.  The climax of the movie comes when his father, in a rage, gives him a few whacks, rips him from his chair and throws him through the sliding-glass doors into the garden.

He is then blamed for nearly everything because he failed to stop anything.  But, despite his vast intelligence he was unable to stop anything because no one respected the idea that relaxing and contemplating was a worthwhile end.

I don’t know if this was the intended message of the movie, but I think it’s a good one.

I’d like to imagine that of all the blogs out there, a great many of them must be the kind of outsiders who ‘waste time’ thinking about things and that they’re warning us of the inherent dangers of the ongoing plot of human history.


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  1. Hi, many thanks so very much for these suggestions!…

    Ok. I believe you’re proper!…

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