Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.

11.27.2010

I Cycle Through Obsessions

A couple of things I know about myself:

- I hate being bored more than just about anything.
- I have trouble doing things halfway, and when I decide to do something I do it all out.

These two dynamics work together, because even when I'm not doing things I'm thinking things, keeping my mind fully occupied with my latest musings. When I get interested in something, it can dominate my thoughts as I fully obsess about it. I don't think of this as an inherently bad thing--it can be, depending on what "it" happens to be--but instead as a good thing because I feel I experience things more fully; if there is joy, excitement, and wonder to be had from something, I want to really immerse myself in it all the way.

Anyway, I bring this up in reaction to a couple of essays a friend recently shared with me, both by the same author who is an admitted geek and former gamer. A couple of quotes from the first:

We're all familiar with negative stereotypes of the geek -- obsessive behavior, crazed attention to detail, a seeming inability to socialize easily -- but if there was one thing I took away from BlizzCon, it was that an essential thing defining geekdom is the capacity to be enthusiastic. Geeks *want* to be enthralled, and more than most people, they open themselves wide to that kind of ensorcellment. The bond that Blizzard has with its fans is built from the company's routine delivery on its promise to be ever more epic, to be ever more awesome, ever more enthralling, without sacrificing an iota of its total devotion to quality, to story, and to the art and craft of fantasy and science fiction.

and

I recognize a kindred spirit in them, but worry that they have gone a little too far over to the dark side. And somehow, while I still can, I know that even as I feed my son's appetite for geeky thrills in virtual wonderlands, I must balance it with shared experience of the real.

That second quote leads naturally to the other essay, on why he no longer games.

A compelling game is a voracious invader that takes over your life and won't let go. A review of a new Nintendo DS game by Seth Scheisel in today's New York Times observed that the game was good for about 50-100 hours of "entertaining gameplay." A hundred hours! I could bike a thousand miles in 100 hours. I could finish all six of the crazy long nonfiction books I'm currently dabbling in. I could watch all five seasons of "The Wire." I could write a book proposal. Life is too short, and I already spend too much time staring into a computer screen, to waste another precious second playing a computer game, no matter how good it is.

A lot of people wonder at the fact that I advocate for video games in the library yet choose not to play them myself. I've never really been a gamer. Sure, I had a few consoles growing up, spent a few years of middle/high school playing arcade games at the local convenience store an hour or two every day after school, and dabbled in the early days of PC gaming. I always enjoyed it. But I never played for just a few moments, and when I did walk away each time I almost always felt it could have been time better spent; gaming is fun and has value and I'm happy to see others do it, but in comparison to other options I think I can do even better. So I enjoy immersing myself in my obsessions, I'm just selective about what they are hoping they're more likely to leave me feeling good about myself than bad. I think Leonard captures why in his two essays really well and I encourage you to follow the links and read them both.

On a side note, this topic also reminds me of a couple of things I've previously quoted:

Being a nerd, which is to say going too far and caring too much about a subject, is the best way to make friends I know. For me, the spark that turns an acquaintance into a friend has usually been kindled by some shared enthusiasm . . . At fifteen, I couldn't say two words about the weather or how I was doing, but I could come up with a paragraph or two about the album Charlie Parker with Strings. In high school, I made the first real friends I ever had because one of them came up to me at lunch and started talking about the Cure.


At that moment there were two feelings inside Celeste's tiny, rapidly beating heart that made her feel as full, and as empty, as a gourd. The sheer beauty of this moment was perfect and sublime. But she was alone.

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