We have no clue what Odd is, we just know we are it.
It doesn’t seem to correlate particularly well with intelligence, not that any of us knows precisely how to measure intelligence ( which has been used to disqualify all IQ tests and is stupid. Treated as “aptitude” tests, and not used as a guide of human worth — because high IQ is not — we should be able to use them for hiring and higher education. Which might clear some of the fug.)
There is some indication we’re more creative, but it depends on what you mean by creative. Look, I know some of our people who can’t draw a straight line, never wanted to write a line of fiction, couldn’t design a new anything if their lives depended on it. Though I’ll admit they are exceptions and there might be a reason for that. Hold on to that thought.
There is a temptation there to go down a really deep genetic rabbit hole too, because with genetic sequencing, we’re finding that most of us are heavy on the Neanderthal. (It seems weird that only 20 years ago reputable scientists argued that homo sap and Neanderthal had never interbred.) But I want everyone to remember that genetics at the level we’re now doing them is a relative new science, and that the only reason to think Neanderthals were more creative is that we’ve found all the “inventive” primitive camps were theirs. But we’re probably dealing with a really SMALL sample.
What we do know is that “we who stick out” — Odds for short — are the sort of kids who get singled out in kindergarten/elementary, when instinct is at its strongest. I got on okay, because I was huge for my place and time, and built like the proverbial brick sh*thouse. But I aggregated to me the small, the lame, the halting, everyone of them also singled out and everyone of them Odd.
Humans are an amazing thing. No, seriously. One of our strange abilities is to identify things for which there is no sane definition. Take art. “I’ll know it when I see it.”
To some extent the same is true of “Odds” and the population correlates pretty closely — creative or not — with what I’d call “Geeks.” I’d call it that, before Geekdom took over the culture and we were surrounded on all sides by pretend geeks.
Geek if you extend it “Obsessed with subject or mission he/she has devoted life to” is a pretty good cognate for what we are. I used to be a language geek, and now I’m a writing geek. I geek out on ways to write things, new tricks, ways of creating story so it fools most people, etc. etc. Recall — if you’ve been around a while — Foxfier saying in comments that Pope Benedict was a “religion geek”? It’s like that. You can be a geek for anything, you can have multiple areas of geeking, and your geeking might change over time. BUT WHEREVER you’re interest and work at the time lies (and work can be a hobby that is really really important to you while work is just how you pay the bills) this is the important thing to do. You’re a Geek. Or an Odd.
“But Sarah,” you’ll say “Doesn’t everyone care most about the thing they’re supposed to be doing, whether it’s a hobby or work, or whatever it is? Isn’t that what companies, hobby groups, jobs are all about.”
Sure, you’ll say that if you’ve never worked with other humans or, to be fair, if you’re a very nice person who tries to ignore and/or excuse what everyone else does.
Because, no, it’s not. Whenever two humans (or more, heaven help us, more) who aren’t Odds get together, the mission stops being “the thing” that is supposed to be the mission, and it becomes “Monkey power games.” (Yes, I know we’re apes. Shut up you.)
I’m not sure what the overlap is between “autistic” and “odd” and I don’t think anyone else knows either, honestly. I think a lot of us who are odd would get diagnosed as autistic (the psychologists who have studied sf/f conventions say we have autistic cuing, etc.) But here’s the thing, I don’t think it MATTERS. Because I don’t think there’s anything wrong with my brain, or anything inherently organically wrong. I can and do perceive emotions (often better than the normals) and read the mental states of others just fine, thank you so much, with ice cream on top, please.
The thing is that normally I DON’T BOTHER and could care less. Not because I don’t care about people, but because I’m obsessive about “the thing we’re supposed to be doing.” And mostly the monkey games just annoy the living crap out of me, because they get in the way of that. So I tune them out, and my behavior becomes close to “on the spectrum.”
I’d guess for most odds this is the case. We’re interested/fascinated/working at the THING THAT MATTERS so much that in the end we let the monkeys-games stab us in the back and block us from “the thing that matters.”
And that is part of the problem. Whether it’s organic or not, most of us read as “threat” to normal human beings. We read as threat on two levels: we ignore the monkey games, without even acknowledging them, much less responding/parrying. And this scares them, because it means we’re unpredictable. Also, we are obsessed with THE THING and they don’t much care about the “thing” and are afraid we’ll steal a march on them and look better.
Or of course, we get in the way of the plans they have to use the work on the thing (without ever doing what they’re supposed to) to get more group power.
This is evolutionary and part of the way humans just are, having been built on a frame of great (or at least pretty good) apes. The group cohesion and group power trump everything else for normal apes. Which makes a certain sense when you’re a band of naked simians roaming the savanna, but sucks when you’re supposed to be a technological civilization building and achieving new things that help the species survive and get out of this mud ball, so we’re secure as a species.
And this is the point at which I find myself screaming at the ceiling (I’m usually indoors) “Lord, WHY apes? Why not, say cats.” Answer there comes none, and I’m sure there would be other drawbacks. If you believe in Him that is, and not just that random chance picked us poor apes for intelligence (whatever the hell that is) and sentience.
At any rate, one of my friends was listening to Dr. Peterson (the fact that the left has identified him as “right wing” is one of those things that tells you they’re just monkeys trying to beat down the odd. And he is ODD.) and said something about a something or other ratio, where in every enterprise 20% of the people do 80% of the actual work.
This holds right, but what he isn’t saying is that those 80% aren’t just passively standing by. They’re actively trying to make the work more difficult and take down whoever is doing the work. Because Odds are threatening.
And of course, right now we live in interesting times, my friends. Very interesting times.
You see, even though it allowed great advance (by allowing judicious freedom to those who could do stuff – though not necessarilly top spot –) the era of mass manufacturing also allowed Monkey games on an unprecedented level. I.e. it allowed those who are really power-oriented to get power like never before. Power to control what people say and even what people think. Power to change the language so that people can’t think clearly. And of course power to “broadcast the one truth” so that all of those who disagree are “crazy and heretics.”
Only while they were playing their…. copulation-copulation games to make the power permanent, the people who cared about The Thing (And who usually when successful, yes, get browbeaten by the power monkeys and start spouting the same inanity.) created stuff. Stuff they weren’t expecting (I mean, they did block off space, so we couldn’t escape, but they never thought of the net as a danger.)
And now things are tilting/shifting, and various fields they made non-functional are changing so much they have no power and no control. Or are losing what they have.
Which, of course, makes them much more controlling and much more likely to try to destroy anyone who ever had an original thought, ever.
Which brings us to where we are. We who are Odd by nature as well as by politics. (Yes, there are a lot of Odds on the other side. A lot of them become scared and just want the attacks to stop. Others willingly join, because they want to “belong” and think this will give them — finally — a large group who loves them. Paradoxically when that doesn’t work, they become more convinced and work harder at getting everyone to knuckle under.)
Which puts us all in a bind. We who are for the cause of human freedom, individual dignity and real progress (not the bastardized use of the world.) We who are of the tribe of Heinlein and want the future to be better than the past, and also who are loyal to the human species, because they’re our species. (We hold no malice towards slime molds, provided they’re not in our way, but we will not commit suicide for the good of slime molds.)
Most of us are being hemmed in and beaten on all sides, no matter what our field of endeavor. And it’s not that our kind was ever popular. We were after all the ones who stick out. It takes desperate times to bring us to positions of leadership.
And I understand, guys, I DO understand, those who want to go kinetic. They see the games being played and they’re tired. They care about “the thing.”
But sometimes you need to pay attention to the games. Not only should you yeet before you art yoten upon have we already lost; not only is the result in either case going to be “the same, with a different mask” and more monkey games than you can imagine, BUT the truth is we haven’t tried everything before that.
Our magnificent Odd President (What? You haven’t looked very closely, if you don’t see that.) has shown we can still fight with words, and speeches, and organizing. He has shown the enemy has gotten so used to winning monkey games that they’re in many ways a paper tiger.
I hear your frustration. Dear Lord, I even share it. Part of it is frustration with our peculiar moment, and part of it is frustration of having been beaten and hemmed in my whole life, and the attempts to control us getting worse every day.
But if you care about liberty and the individual, if that’s one of your things, you have to focus on the monkey games at least a little, and figure out when they’re stampeding you towards what THEY want you to do, while making it sound it’s what you need to do.
This is a critical moment. There’s many ways to fail, only one way to win. Look, the monkey games, powered by the crazy Marxist theology which is all Monkey Games, have gotten to such a point that many of our institutions and enterprises are doing the opposite of what they should be doing.
If we don’t win this, the dark falls. And it falls for a long, long while.
So what can you do? Well, you care about many, many things. And almost all of them are threatened by uber-monkey-games right now (Even knitting. KNITTING.) So you need to fight back. You need to concentrate on the thing you do, and make it so much obviously better that even the monkey games can’t take it down. Look, I hate to say it, but Trump is showing the way. They scream and they fling poo, and he does the things he cares about. Ruthlessly. (While periodically hitting them where it hurts with his words. Learn to do that. Good Lord, they HATE to be laughed at. And they have no defense against it.)
Whatever you are, you Odd Geeks, you mass of strangeness, you nails that stick up, you goats amid the sheep, you are needed.
It won’t be easy, and it won’t be pleasant, but we need you to build. We need you to fight to stay in the game, and build and write and do.
You are the yeast and the leaven. Without it, humanity is just monkeys playing games, and sinking more and more into the morass of conformity.
Sure, you’ve been beaten so much you have no confidence. You’ve tuned the rest of the idiots out so much, you don’t even remember your way back to giving a f*ck.
But if you care about civilization, it’s time to make an effort. It’s time to fight. For you, or for the future, or just for humanity.
Fight with words, with art, with tech, with what matters.
Be not afraid. If we actually try and stop being scared and depressed, no one can stop us. The monkey game players know that and it’s why they work so hard at stopping us.
Don’t let them.