The Effectiveness of Weirdness.  

“Forget trying to pass for normal. … Woo the muse of the odd. …Don’t aim to be civilized. Don’t hope that straight people will keep you on as some sort of pet. To hell with them. You should fully realize what society has made of you and take a terrible revenge. Get weird. Get way weird. Get dangerously weird. Get sophisticatedly, thoroughly weird, and don’t do it halfway. Put every ounce of horsepower you have behind it. Don’t become a well-rounded person. Well-rounded people are smooth and dull. Become a thoroughly spiky person. Grow spikes from every angle. Stick in their throats like a pufferfish.”   –  Bruce Sterling

This quote from the Futurish paper made me think about the effectiveness of weirdness. This quote was in the context of Guerilla Design. Arguing for the point that Guerilla is an effective means of design. What I get from the quote from Bruce Sterling is that one should be weird for the sake of being weird. Somehow I do not agree with this. Doing anything for that sake of doing that lacks a certain value. So maybe I interpreted Bruce wrong, maybe Bruce Sterling himself is quoted out of context regarding this.

If we look a bit back in the article we find the following;

If we cannot fight the powers that be using their rationalist, materialist language, perhaps we can baffle them by acting not as a well-rounded civilised people, but by transforming into something like a pufferfish.

This bring far more context towards the quote from Bruce Sterling. In order to fight the capitalists people should become strange. I just do not see how this will work. By creating a new language in order to fight the powers with a rationalist, materialist language you are distancing yourself from the people you want to convince or your right. With making this gap bigger and bigger (becoming more and more weird) I assume the effectiveness will diminish. People will starting saying more often “oow, that is art,” towards “what a weirdo, lets quickly walk past.”

Do not get me wrong here. Nothing wrong with being strange. By weird is not difficult. The difficulty is in the boundary between being different and the people you want to convince. You want to be just out of their comfortzone, but not too far. You do not want people to be afraid of coming and taking a look.

The real challenge is being weird and normal. Being able to switch between the different languages and therefore mediate between those worlds that are already there.

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2 thoughts on “The Effectiveness of Weirdness.  

  1. Thomas, I think you make a fair point, but I also believe you might have settled on your view of rationality. I believe this piece makes a valid point maybe not about being weird for weirdness sake but about accepting weird as valid; for weirdness is not always something a person chooses and to write it off as irrational is fascist. Not that I think you are doing that, but you are encouraging perceived weird people too attempt to see through a lense that they don’t necessarily need to see through. I think your response is littered with the privilege of having been raised to understand and think through a single lense of rationality that happens to have a large backing of powerful people today; a lense of rationality not far from that which has been prevalent in the white culture—particularly white males—for thousands of years.

    I’ve begun to question my own sense of rationality more and more over the past few years. I had a few friends who really challenged my values and out of respect for them I chose to ignore the rational I had behind those values and accept and support what they had to say. After letting going of those rationalities I’ve begun to accept things I thought to be weird is a bad way and can no understand the rationale I had before.

    I’m tempted to fully agree with you that in order to convince people we must learn to speak on their terms of what is rational. But I fear that in order to truly understand someone else rational you must forget your own. Perhaps that is what everyone should be doing. It’s a scary thought, though, to imagine everyone letting go of their current systems of rational.

    This is a half baked response, but it includes concepts I’ve been mulling over for the past few months. This idea of letting go of your current systems of rationality with the intent of understanding new ones is tied together with a concept of emotional reconstruction I’ve been actualizing. I could talk about this for hours with anyone willing to help me build up and crash down these theories.

  2. Pingback: Systems of Rationality >> RE:Thomas | Design Fiction 2015

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