Tuesday, August 03, 2010

UPDATE: Where Can I Find Original Thinkers; Fantasy Frustration

I'm looking for an original thought.

I'm looking for someone who will not simply parrot their supposed group, be it Christians or Atheists or scientists or liberals or conservatives or whoever. Trolling for original thought on the internet, the super highway of information, is like looking for the proverbial needle. The past week I've spent, on average, five or six hours a day trolling sites through various social media capillaries, and the amount of intellectual "high-fives" going on at these supposed intelligent sites is enough to make me vomit in my mouth. It's been unbelievably depressing.

Coming from a heavily churched background, as I do, it has always been easy to say that there are a fair number of parrots in religion. What I'm learning is that there are a fair number of parrots, period and it doesn't matter where they lie on the political spectrum. You can feel the scars and taint of rejection as people bend over backward to congratulate themselves and each other on their shared viewpoints, feverishly trying to hold on to a fragile community with their own fragile psyche. Now, I understand the psychology behind it, and don't necessarily bemoan it, except for the vitriol at people who would dare think differently. People who would even attempt to shatter their precious group think with an idea outside the box. Again, this is not just true of conservatives and people who are religious. (As liberals often accuse.) I've been to a number of liberal sites where I was raked in the comments section (not on this site), simply for offering an alternative idea. There was no debate, just name calling.

Which leads me to my next question. Within the medium of high end technology, is it even possible to have a debate, or does the internet, with its speed and anonymity, impart a natural ruthlessness in the way we address issues? Food for thought, because as we saw in the last presidential election, our future will ultimately be decided on the internet. Is it possible we can find a way to have intelligent discourse without resorting to grade school name calling? It's a dream, I know, and it probably won't happen. But can we at least get rid of this ridiculous notion that conservatives are dumb and liberals are smart, or that only conservatives are religious. Conservatives are religious about institutionalized religions, but people can be zealous or religious about anything, including science, the environment, or even the dismantling of organized religion. What I'd love to find are people/web sites that promote original thought, to the point where you're not sure what they will say about an issue, merely that it will be well thought out and not simply the agenda of yet another organized group.


***

What is it with fantasy writers? When it's done well, fantasy provides a terrific experience for its reader. So why then, do so many fantasy writers insist on ignoring the basic rules of genre writing? They switch characters so frequently you can't get involved, or they insist on adding yet another viewpoint or character late in the story that you know nothing about. The beauty of good fantasy is that it allows you to dig in. When done well, a la Robert Jordan or Terry Goodkind, the result is millions of books sold. And yet, so many insist on making the world and its characters so complex we can't follow them and lose interest. This has happened in the Guy Gavriel Kay novel I've been reading. Tonight, about 170 pages in, the work became unintelligible with new characters and quick viewpoint shifts, and I was forced to put it down. Again. Sigh. At least now I understand why the Jordan estate chose Brandon Sanderson to complete Jordan's series. His novels are both readable and enjoyable for people who like to read OUTSIDE the fantasy realm.

***

A final word about the sudden increase in popularity to this site, as I've learned to tap into the veins of social media coursing through the internet. I will not be a parrot. Now you may think that I already spend my days wanting another cracker, or that I'm a typical liberal Christian, or a typical "fake" conservative, or whatever. For all the new traffic, I don't give a crap what people in my "groups" think or don't think, and so much as I'm able to provide you with something to think about, something that might make your daily load a bit lighter, regardless of where the idea comes from; or, as a commentary to our culture, I will write exactly as I believe. As far as I'm concerned, God gave us all will and breath, and while we need him, we also need to stop moping about like we have no choices in our life.

Repeat after me. No sheep allowed.

You deserve better.

And if I start sounding like someone more interested in popularity than original thought, send me a "slap" email.

The new movie review should be up tomorrow, and no, I'm not sure what I'm watching yet. Probably something recent.

Thanks, everyone. Have a good night and we'll chat soon.

-Steve