Terrorists and Fanboys
Mar 6, 2006 at 5:46 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 29

scrypt

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Terrorists and fanboys have this in common: Both despise people who do things too perfectly, receive untoward attention or otherwise invite excessive scrutiny. The ignored are attracted to celebrity even as they resent it: Sabotage is the toemaiden of envy.

(I mean this to be a sociological comment and not a political one.)

Yesterday, I was thinking of an internet moment I witnessed: When horror writer Poppy Z. Brite appeared on a newsgroup and was summarily flamed by legions of her fanboys. They could not possibly admit they were attracted to her, let alone, impressed by her, without confessing their own wretchedness. Thus, the author who was kind enough to talk to her fans was torpedoed out of the froth. Rather makes you think of the enemies of famous nations, doesn't it? James Bond gone wrong.

Stephen King is loved not only because he is considered good but because he refrains from underlining the mediocrity of his fans. He does not write in an alienating style; he is not particularly good-looking; in short, he does not reinforce his readers' self-hatred. There is something correct about King's appeal, but there is also something limiting.

If only fanboys thought the same way writers did: That seeing how short one falls of perfection is useful only insofar as it effects necessary change. No need to beat oneself up while reading Shakespeare because one can't write like Shakespeare, nor because Shakespeare's existence had an unusual amount of significance, nor is there any need to belittle Shakespeare for those reasons. Better to concentrate on the insights and inspiration Shakespeare affords, to apply what one learns from his work without vanity's sabotage. The aim should be progress without jealousy: look ahead, trapeze artist, but don't look down. Don't derail the evolution of your mind by comparing it unfavorably to the models that nourish its progress.
 
Mar 6, 2006 at 5:50 AM Post #2 of 29

crazyfrenchman27

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So perhaps this is why there are so many Senn Fanboys...

They do not feel threatened by its mediocrity.

-Matt
very_evil_smiley.gif
 
Mar 6, 2006 at 5:50 AM Post #3 of 29

Kirosia

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uh . . I agree. I think. No wait. Yeah. Maybe. Huh? Nah. !!. Gotcha. Yo.

Quote:

So perhaps this is why there are so many Senn Fanboys...

They do not feel threatened by its mediocrity.

-Matt


Only an anti-senn fanboy would say something like that.
tongue.gif
 
Mar 6, 2006 at 6:38 AM Post #7 of 29

Quado

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lol It's thought provoking because he's a writer or something (genetics/environment). Anyways, this is off-topic, but I always laugh when scrypt writes "wretch," because of his writing style, and how I compare it (the word and his posts) to a psychotic post I made in my itchy head thread... I'm probably going too far here, but if an eloquent guy like him read some of my posts, he'd definately think I'm a pseudo-intellectual. I'm just saying it's funny that we're both like complete opposites in writing here.

Back on-topic, there are geeks everywhere, and a lot of their minds don't evolve if you know what I mean (like mine)... BUT, people complain for lots of things...it's easy to see why they would complain over a writer...I don't know the details, but if the complaining had to do with new books, then they obviously didn't like the direction taken. Many people prefer older works and styles, and I personally hate so much stuff going on in the entertainment fields today too. Overall, the lesser complaining lies in the underground...where things are calmer, and you already have to be some type of person to even FIND something that's underground... One of the problems here is that so many different types of people can find things in the mainstream (just easier to find stuff)...leading to whatever, no matter what the thing is. Uh, yeah....

And, a lot of you guys' replies are like....probably different from what scrypt was expecting. lol
 
Mar 6, 2006 at 6:55 AM Post #8 of 29

scrypt

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Oh, I don't judge anyone's response or feel they have to live up to some ludicrous notion of perfection on a thread I initiate. I'm just interested to see what direction people's thoughts might take.

This wasn't intended to be about writing in particular. Rather, it's about the idea of celebrity and attraction/repulsion: if people weren't attracted to famous nations, cultures and celebs, they wouldn't pause long enough to indulge resentments.

Crazyfrenchman's headphone analogy applies better, I think, when names and faces are attached. I wouldn't use Sennheiser in this case so much as Grado, Samuels and/or Mikhail.

There's also the factor of modesty: Many of Oscar Wilde's contemporaries hated him for being quick and clever, but their excuse for expressing this might have begun with his playful form of conceit. Odd (isn't it?), that along with fame must come false reassurances that the fortunate are not a race apart. The dissonance comes when people don't believe in reassurances.

Let us imagine a number of countries coexisting on another world: An apparently modest king soon finds he is despised by legions in the other nations. Non-natives, who do not identify with the leader's attempts at self-deprecation, come to disbelieve in it bitterly -- perhaps due to their inferior title, or, more broadly, to a sense of economic, military or cultural disadvantage.

Overriding the question of modesty versus conceit is the impact of the leader's actions on people's lives. The very foonts who distract themselves with discussions of rhetorical table manners fail to value their own authority; by fixing their attention on the airs of their rulers, they become impotent outsiders. Their destructivenes emerges because progress feels unattainable.
 
Mar 6, 2006 at 7:22 AM Post #9 of 29

chadbang

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I've never read a Harry Potter book and know nothing personally about JK Rowling, or whatever her name is, but, as a failed-former writer I sincerely hate her for her MONEY. Whereas I could never hate salinger/faulker/pynchon/proust/etc/etc/etc because I admire their talent and I know I could never write as well as them. Perhaps if I read Rowling and liked her books and she was extradordinary, I would no longer hate her. But I can't understand being a fickle fan -- a real contradiction. Perhaps, at the risk of drawing fire, maybe Poppy Z. Brite (don't know her work) isn't the 'real thing' and does attract/deserve some criticism. No offense, Poppy, wherever you are. And to further risk coming under fire, Steven King may be medicore (but I would contend is writing is "good"), but he is a master (or was) at spinning a good yarn (ala Dickens). But since when does mediocre stop a reading audience? 35 million copies of "The Da Vinci Code" and that writer is one of the worst hacks stylistically I've ever read.
 
Mar 6, 2006 at 7:27 AM Post #10 of 29

michaelconnor

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Hmm...
I'd slowly say that much of the fanboy's poor sentiments could often be attributed to simple jealousy. They see a virtue, possession, or honor that another holds. They would desire to have what the other has, but alas, they cannot. Thus, they look to marginalized or debase the other person such that they might feel better about their own mediocre selves. At the root of this is the usual suspect, pride.

Could this be consistent with your observations?
 
Mar 6, 2006 at 7:53 AM Post #11 of 29

scrypt

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Interesting that you should mention Dickens, chadbang, since he felt the same way about successful contemporaries that you do about Rowling and Dan Brown. Dickens would work himself up to a fine froth in journalistic screeds attacking the immorality of utterly forgotten novelists who, temporarily, sold better with the public than he. The difference is that you have the saving grace of admitting careerist envy before taking destructive action (unlike Dickens, terrorists and the fanboys I mentioned before).

I can't bring myself to hate Rowling, and here's why: her discovery was due to British editors' sifting through the slush pile. Instead of some Oxford shark tracking the writer's pedigree, Camelot lineage, slime-trail of degrees or camera-worthy profile, the person who discovered Rowling was impressed with her work itself, which they had to extract from mountains of manuscripts. If agents and editors still did that in New York, published American books might become more powerful again and we'd have new Faulkners, Porters and Hurstons.

The thing Dickens and King have in common, I think, is strategic sentimentality: neither minds using obvious tricks to make characters sympathetic (such as giving them a ravaging illness or physical deformity). Nothing wrong with the tradition of melodrama, of course. I'm only saying it serves both writers' ends. Said ends are not to be confused with any lack of affect or conceit -- even when compared with the bluster of Lautremont or the philosophical fascism of Sade.

I happen to love Dostoyevsky, and I especially admire certain passages in The Idiot. At his best, said epileptic god writes amazing chamber music. Even so, I would be remiss in not pointing out that Prince Myshkin, in moments of supposedly saintly musings, makes anti-Semitic pronouncements that seem both misanthropic and at one with their sentimental author's envy. And I cannot blame Nabokov for mistrusting the sentimentalized morality of Dostoyevsky's work.

(Michael Connor: Yes, it is consistent with part of what I'm saying. Only, I don't want to leave out the redemptive path for fanboys, who were attracted to certain work for a reason. After all, I myself am a fan in addition to being a creative person. (Exhibit Hey: my breathless evaluations of certain headphones and amps.) I'd say the difference between a fan and a fanboy is the latter's lack of honest self-evaluation:-- the degree to which reflexive preoccupations keep people unconscious.)
 
Mar 6, 2006 at 8:24 AM Post #12 of 29

Gigabomber

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Quote:

Originally Posted by scrypt
The very foonts who distract themselves with discussions of rhetorical table manners seem not to value the importance of their own lives and voices.


I'm not sure how much this applies to the argument, but extremism and paradoxical character come to my mind, along with a lack of emotional and intellectual flexibility. Not to make any form of a jab at being well read, but the reason I recently swapped my major from English to Psychology with an English minor is that many English majors fall into a level of mediocrity which I find even worse than the mediocrity of statistical work in a lab: writing analyses and critiques of other author's works while remaining stagnant and un-critical of one's own life.

While I remain critical of the latter lifestyle, it is clearly evolutionary as questioning one's identity and attempting to become cultured one day at a time is certainly a most luxurious and potentially arrogant lifestyle to adopt, but here forces in the paradox. Who determines how culture and true intellect are formed? Historically, those who do have too often cut down the most beautiful and revolutionary minds in both art and science. The two men I admire the most are both deeply religious and self-sacrificing yet never receive respect unless they demand it, which they are far too kind to attempt.

How may you remain an artist without being arrogant?
How may you be approachable and kind yet not be stepped on at every opportunity?
How may you critique a work without devaluing your own character?
How do I not wasting my own formative time by maintaining this somewhat wasteful hobby and superficial relationships?

"Education of the mind without education of the heart is no education at all," Aristotle. Education of the heart is about learning what we are.
A writer is only writing when he is at risk and a reader is only reading when he is at risk. (a line which I must paraphrase as I still cannot find the original quote)

When one become absorbed in a book or a game or a hobby or a television show and identity foreclosure inevitably ensues (the adoption of identity through osmosis as opposed to trial by the gauntlet via great personal effort) a classic fanboy is created, disconnected from daily life due, not to the devaluing of life, but in the lack of ever valuing it and the potential held within.
Humanistic theorists call it a derailment on the way to the Promised Land, but am I to say where they shall end up? I've been derailed plenty and here I am, and so certainly have you Scrypt from the little I have picked up.

It's a struggle and a burden – but a blessed burden – to have a forged such an identity with the empathic intelligence to revolt and survey the damage. Perhaps some of us follow the pensioner’s luxurious lifestyle whereas others simply cannot and should not as all their mind knows is hard labor.

I have little defense in the way of regurgitated emotional waste as I have too often partook in far too brutal, acute comparisons, but I no longer prize the ability to damage others with great ease and hope I understand where you are coming from in this respect as I also feel great pain when those who put themselves on the line are mistreated.

I am fairly certain I shan't be as famous as any of these authors, but how much does being famous matter once i'm dead if I have not initiated social change?

I have followed suit and admitted ot myself that my life is no longer about grand design, who is to say that this thread and this post hasn't contributed to the "fight" in and of itself?

The cheese stands alone, but is it lonely?
 
Mar 6, 2006 at 9:20 AM Post #13 of 29

Edwood

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Gigabomber
How may you remain an artist without being arrogant?


I find that the best artists I have met, are most humble and always want to learn something new.

The most arrogant ones are the ones that can only "elevate" their work, by cutting others down.

-Ed
 
Mar 6, 2006 at 9:23 AM Post #14 of 29

scrypt

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Gigabomber
When one become absorbed in a book or a game or a hobby or a television show and identity foreclosure inevitably ensues (the adoption of identity through osmosis as opposed to trial by the gauntlet via great personal effort) a classic fanboy is created, disconnected from daily life due, not to the devaluing of life, but in the lack of ever valuing it and the potential held within. Humanistic theorists call it a derailment on the way to the Promised Land, but am I to say where they shall end up? I've been derailed plenty and here I am, and so certainly have you Scrypt from the little I have picked up.


Very few of us can say we've never been derailed, and perhaps that's for the best -- esp. since the perks of derailment include upgraded empathy.

Before deciding to work at a wretched publishing company, I could not understand people who refused to focus on what I considered great art (or choice non sequitur veinage in deliciously strange flicks). I could not sympathize with what seemed the resentment and pettiness of people in office cubicles. A year of work changed all that. Whether I continue to work in an office forever or until next week, I'm glad to have had the experience. I found myself feeling the same traumatized stupefaction, the same need for imbecilic escapism, as everyone else. Never again will I judge those who endure such prolonged frustration. Besides, who's to say which tastes -- theirs or scholars' -- prove most durable?

Quote:

Not to make any form of a jab at being well read, but the reason I recently swapped my major from English to Psychology with an English minor is that many English majors fall into a level of mediocrity which I find even worse than the mediocrity of statistical work in a lab: writing analyses and critiques of other author's works while remaining stagnant and un-critical of one's own life.


The problem is that universities often reward lit majors for drudgery or sensationalism rather than thought. In my view, an essay by Lamb, Sir Thomas Browne, De Quincey, Goethe or Coleridge can be as beautiful as any treatise; but in other hands, crit can become a catalogue of dry-heave excavation. Just so: while the best philosophy mines a vein of grace, the worst sort replaces vital connective tissue with decrepit machinery. I do tend to prefer the Frankfurt school over Foucault, Derrida and so froth, and the 90s reaction to same, which attempted to reclaim so-called inspiration but proved as arbitrary as the post-structuralists while managing to read far worse. (Promise me you'll do better than that Columbia hack who leaks swill about genius in Beethoven. I've never seen a so-called return to aesthetics engender such club-wheeled lawnmower prose.)

Quote:

Who determines how culture and true intellect are formed? Historically, those who do have too often cut down the most beautiful and revolutionary minds in both art and science. The two men I admire the most are both deeply religious and self-sacrificing yet never receive respect unless they demand it, which they are far too kind to attempt.


Edna St. Millay, who gets little respect, would agree with you: "I know. But I am not resigned."

Quote:

How may you remain an artist without being arrogant? How may you be approachable and kind yet not be stepped on at every opportunity? . . . .


Thanks kilotons for asking these questions, certain of which have haunted me for decades. By applauding you for reminding me of me, I become guilty of narcissism, which reinforces the idea of the arrogant artist (if in fact there is such a thing as an artist apart from the cultural field, which tropes your Housmanesque Soldier having been cut down "in fields where roses fade").

However, what I'm applauding are the questions themselves -- esp. your questions about ethics. I ask them every day, yet, like Epiktetus, wonder whether my actions have actually improved. After all, one's having asked the question does not necessarily better one's conduct. Perhaps the purpose of striving is to learn graceful ways in which to fail. "He does not know me well, else he would not have mentioned these faults alone."

Quote:

I have too often partook in far too brutal, acute comparisons, but I no longer prize the ability to damage others with great ease and hope I understand where you are coming from in this respect as I also feel great pain when those who put themselves on the line are mistreated.


The facile are haunted at dusk by the insults they delivered haplessly at midday. Are we facile at times? No doubt. I, too, have lain awake agonizing about having wounded someone else's feelings: It's always a waste. The thing an enemy remembers and resents is what was least intended. One strains to be thoughtful but, perversely, conveys the opposite. Attempts at consideration are deemed assertions of position.

Quote:

It's a struggle and a burden – but a blessed burden – to have a forged such an identity with the empathic intelligence to revolt and survey the damage. Perhaps some of us follow the pensioner’s luxurious lifestyle whereas others simply cannot and should not as all their minds know is hard labor.


How reassuring, to have come across like thoughts after having replied in the same spirit, and with similarly attempted aims. Good gland, Gig, you seem a right decent pap-smear on the left nipple of Greater Altruism (and, believe me, I don't get to that part of Wyoming often enough).
 
Mar 6, 2006 at 11:29 AM Post #15 of 29

bangraman

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Quote:

I find that the best artists I have met, are most humble and always want to learn something new.



Oddly enough Ed, the best "terrorists" I've met also display similar characteristics. Of course, if they supported the US they would be "freedom fighters" and then that would be OK...
 

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