10
Feb
09

Mr. Spock

This is a rather rambling one. You’ll need coffee and a long attention span. Sickbags are optional.

 

Some years ago, there was a sci fi magazine called Starlog. It was a US publication and very glossy compared to most of the stuff in the UK. Starburst (a UK magazine in a similar vein) appeared on newsagent shelves some time after it but Starlog was the first time I’d seen a glossy sci fi mag.

Now this is going back a bit. And it harks back to a time when sci fi wasn’t quite as mainstream as it is now. You can shove sci fi posters on your wall these days and nobody’s going to suddenly think you’re some mental deficient. That doesn’t preclude the possibility but at least its not like a neon sign screaming “SOCIAL OUTCAST ALERT!” and a call to the opposite sex to avoid mating. Sci fi and fantasy these days are generally The Big Thing across most media and where this isn’t the case, at least the genre(s) are acceptable.

In one issue’s editorial, by Howard Zimmerman, he discussed childhood heroes and how we look at them. To a child, Captain Kirk and his trusty shipmates run around and shoot bad guys. The child loves the action and excitement. Good guys versus bad guys. But when you’re older you don’t buy into that simplistic view of the world. You might find many aspects of the TV series too immature for you, but you can at least respect what the likes of Mr. Spock stood for. You don’t need to retain the childlike wonder at Star Trek but at the core of it were some good ideals. Indeed these types of thing led directly to my interest in the likes of the Tao Te Ching and the Art of War (always trendy to mention, rarely as read I suspect as those mentioning it would have you believe; did I just create a paradox?).

I rather liked this what Mr. Zimmerman was writing about and it percolated into my young mind.

Fast forward a few years. We have communities of geeks and even the whole concept of geek has become very mainstraim. Computers are in every home and increasingly people are becoming more technologised (is that even a word?) and the barriers to the sci fi and fantasy genres are pretty much broken down. Its just another genre rather than something people are afraid to admit to liking in public places.

Indeed, computer gaming is taking over as the fastest growth entertainment media on the planet, outstripping music and movies. Not bad for something that a few years ago was the province of a minority that oooh’d and ahhh’d at ZX spectrums and the like. And now we’re all into social networking via the internet and online gaming. The geeks are growing up. The philosophies and interests of geeks are now leaping from mind to mind.

Suddenly, in the likes of DAoC and Warhammer there are ways to apply these things when before there was no arena for them. Artificial communities are springing up driven only by people’s innate behaviour and philosophies. There are direct ways to apply what you believe in these communities, unfettered by physical limitations, country of origin, sex or religion. The communities created are by consensus -ephemeral in many ways but generally created by likened minds.

I do not ascribe any great philosophical depth to Mr. Spock or most of the contents of Star Trek, it is merely the starting point for this discussion. I took away from that Starlog editorial that its ok to believe in good things and there is nothing to be ashamed of, even as you are getting older. The trick is to remember that some of these things are worth keeping with us when there is oftentimes pressure to abandon all that we have in childhood as we merge into the adult world.  I grew up in a place rife with bigotry and racism and having something easy to grasp like this in my mind helped a lot through more difficult times. It also allowed me to become open to more complex positive philosphies later in life, such as the aforementioned Tao and Art of War.

…Which I now apply in Warhammer with greater or lesser degrees of success based on my own limitations. The tools supplied by the expanding philosphies are the building blocks of guilds and communities. Start with a simple positive concept. Hold onto it. Build on it.  Try not to bore people to death with it.

Thankyou Misters Spock and Zimmerman.

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