A Taxonomy of Weirdness

byEvan Clark1y12th Mar 20185 comments

12


To begin, here is is a story of Weirdness Points spent unwisely.

In elementary school, my mother would come in on occasion to lecture us on art and art history. The task one day was family portraits: specifically, caricatures of our close family members that expressed their respective personalities and quirks. As an example, she pulled out her drawings of my family, each person assembled of different shapes. My father was made of rectangles, because he was a mathematician and thought in logical and linear fashion. My mother herself was made of circles, because she was an art-lover and thought in what she saw as soft, roundabout ways. My sister was made of triangles, a compromise. At last she revealed me, saying: "And Evan is a fried egg!" And indeed, there I was, looking like the first frame of a Ricci flow animation, or perhaps more pertinently, a very poorly fried egg. There were the requisite gales of laughter from all around (and the requisite lack of laughter and mild mortification on my part). It would have been little consolation at the time that the picture would prove prophetic.

I have recently been contemplating the nature of my weirdness, and like any good LessWronger, I have expanded that contemplation into a full-blown world-girdling model, which hopefully is at least sufficiently superficially accurate.

Weirdo Varieties:

Fried Eggs - The constitutionally weird. People who will always end up on the margins, even relative to the margins. Not necessarily those who desire to be odd or unusual - although that is sometimes the case - but those for whom the self is inevitably expressed. Fried Eggs are often the most unique and creative, but they are also the sort of people who unfortunately find it hard to build a community, because they are uncompromisingly themselves. No Fried Egg will ever be a head of state. Some examples of Fried Eggs are Ed Wood, Marilyn Manson, Salvador Dalí, Diogenes of Sinope, and Nikola Tesla.

Believers - the devotionally weird. People who are on the margins only because of their total adherence to a marginal dogma. A devoted Communist who would be normal (if only Communism were) is a Believer and not a Fried Egg. They are not at all incrementalists, however, and will only surrender their weirdness when the last enemy falls. Believers build the strongest communities of the three - their communities become locally normal and thus stable - and are thus much more successful than Fried Eggs, although not as much as Faces. Some examples of Believers are Thomas Paine, Huey Long, Emma Goldman, John Brown and Malcolm X.

Faces - the instrumentally weird. The motto of the Face is that they only seem mad because everyone else is so - and they mean it. Faces have an odd belief or two, but are not odd in-and-of themselves, and are likely to roll their eyes at their often outlandish allies. Fundamentally, they want mainstream credibility; after all, how better to achieve their goals? While not explicitly community-oriented, they tend to be natural leaders, or at least more natural than the other two. Some examples of Faces are George Washington, Gary Johnson, Bernie Sanders, and Bertrand Russell.

Interweirdo relations, when the three groups make common cause:

(This section was written in intentionally harsh language, because I wanted to make clear cuts between groups for clarity's sake. Most people are a mix of the all three, obviously, and most people are more charitable about others than this portrays. The worst-case is for instructive, not normative value)

Fried Eggs are afraid of Believers, rightly believing that the latter can sniff out their fundamental lack of tunnel-vision. Faces are even worse - not only are they fundamentally normal, they don't even really hide it. Fried Eggs have nightmares where their carefully created spaces get taken over, either by mainstream whitewashing or political commandeering, and know that their friends in the Revolution might well be woefully temporary.

Believers are suspicious of Faces for obvious reasons, especially the tendency of Faces to stop right before the glorious utopia was going to arise. Believers are perhaps paradoxically more paranoid about Fried Eggs, after all they seem to really honestly care about their toys more than whether their toys are going to end up hurting or helping. Believers have nightmares where they are trivialized by history, either by incomprehensible navel-gazing aestheticism or two-faced normie imposters, and know that their friends in the Revolution don't really buy into the hype.

Faces regularly disavow Fried Eggs, because they know that every movement is judged by the loudest and the strangest. Faces think that Believers need to look at the bigger picture, after all they seem incapable of realizing that something really is better than something. Faces have nightmares where all they build is ridiculed by the elites, either because of extremist aggressives who can't take yes for an answer or by bizarre unsociable nerds, and know that their friends in the Revolution wouldn't help their chances with the movers and shakers.

My advice for Fried Eggs (the only group I feel capable of dispensing advice to):

I understand that you feel as though the world is against you. This is not insignificantly because part of the world is actually against you. Not everyone is, however, even when they don't understand you and make no effort to. Individuals are not the world - as well you should know - and it is a waste of energy to fear anyone and everyone.

You almost certainly didn't choose your fate, and might have chosen otherwise if given a choice, but given the world as it is, make the most of it. If you are going to be the eternal exception, be exceptionally worthwhile. If you are not average, at least be above-average.

If these sound like empty platitudes, it is primarily because I am not wise enough to help you more than empty platitudes can. Sorry. I'm working on that omniscience thing in my spare time.

I hope my taxonomy is helpful to you: I hope that when someone berates you for not understanding that Tonari no Totoro is actually a metaphor for reclaiming pagan values in the face of supposed reform movements, you can file that under "Believers just being Believers in good faith" and not take it personally, and I hope that when someone tells you that you absolutely can not go outside in a short skirt and a biker jacket because they might see important people who will already be disinclined to listen to your ideas about AI risk, you can classify that person as a Face and at least know where they are coming from.

Conclusion:

I am terrible at concluding anything, so I will just say that any similarity to a specific movement is unintended, and apologize again for feeling the need to (at least to some degree) paint things in stark terms.