Lazy Luddite Log


Different <-----> Same

Those chance comments I reported on in my last entry have resonated with some experiences I have been mulling over. Everyone is different and I find it refreshing - nay - necessary to spend time with different friends at different times. The opportunity to move in a few distinct 'scenes' helps keep me sane (or put another way to move in just one scene would drive me crazy).

Many of my friends from Uni days I met in the Fellowship of Middle Earth (FOME). Then there are other friends I have since made via involvement in the Australian Democrats (who keep in contact even if they have drifted away from the party). And now I am becoming acquainted with members of the Monash University Choral Society (MonUCS). These shared interests... fantasy and science fiction... progressive politics... choral performance... are all very different. One would assume that those met via these interests would all be very different.

They are. And yet I have noticed over time some things that friends from many and differing backgrounds seem to have in common. The number of times I came across party colleagues who it transpired were into Buffy or Discworld or Red Dwarf was surprising. And now I have been discovering similar common elements among many of the choristers. Frankly many of them are nerds. Is it coincidence? Is there something I am overlooking like the predominance of university backgrounds among these different groups? Or is it that a lot of these things are much more ordinary than I had come to expect?

Which brings me to another matter: The distinction between active and passive expression of ones interests. In groups like FOME there is a tendency among members to think that our shared interest in fantasy and science fictions sets us apart from the rest of the world. And yet that same interest is shared among many more than will ever get involved in 'fandom'. Many are happy simply to buy the novels and videos rather than feel the need to participate in a shared recreational experience.

On opening night for a new episode of Star Wars thousands of geeks in costume are seen parading into the cinemas. Then the next day millions worldwide do the same thing but in everyday clothing. I wonder if there is very much difference at all between us and them.



  • Interesting observation. My suspicion is that there is a big difference between those that are 'actively' interested in something, and those that are only 'passively' interested.

    That difference is the sense of perspective that the 'passively' interested seem to have - they can see that it's only a TV show, or only a football team etc, whilst for the 'actively' involved, the description of only seems heretical.

    PS. Moderation of comments is bad form, I say. Let the dialogue run free!!

    By Blogger Ari Sharp, At 27 May, 2006  

  • Hey Ari

    I think there is a lot to what you are saying. The passive fan has some removal from a thing and can perceive it for what it is. Here we have the old distinction between the 'informed observer' who is objective and the 'participant' whose understandings are subjective.

    But then to what extent does this distinction depend on the interest in question? For fantasy and science fiction it makes some sense. But what of (say) choral music. In this case the distinction is between 'audience' and 'performer'. Only the audience member gets a full sense of the wholeness of the performance. In contrast the chorister has a distorted impression of the music as they are stuck standing in just one of the 'parts'. One the other hand the performer is intimate with the music they are performing and so will notice small mistakes that the audience member may overlook. Who has a better understanding of the topic?

    Then we move onto politics. Naturally the participant in partisan politics (e.g. the member of a party) is totally subjective in that they have very strongly held political prejudices and commitments. On the other hand the participant is exposed to and understands things that an informed observer may overlook. There are many misconceptions in politics that arise from having only "a little bit of knowledge" (which as they say can be a dangerous thing).

    Also the distinction I have been drawing has its limitations. How do you, Ari, as a web journalist and political commentator, fit into the demarcation between informed observer and participant? Your observations can have a direct effect on the participants and the process as a whole.

    P. S. To date I have let every post pass. The moderation is just there as a precaution. I check messages every day so discssion is only slowed somewhat.

    By Blogger Daniel, At 29 May, 2006  

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