A link and a meme

First, the meme:

Your brain: 100% interpersonal, 80% visual, 120% verbal, and 100% mathematical!
Congratulations on being 400% smart! Actually, on my test, everyone is. The above score breaks down what kind of thinking you most enjoy
doing. A score above 100% means you use that kind of thinking more than
average, and a score below 100% means you use it less. It says nothing
about how good you are at any one, just how interested you are in each, relatively. A substantial difference in scores between two people means, conclusively, that they are different kinds of thinkers.

My test tracked 4 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 81% on interpersonal
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You scored higher than 59% on visual
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You scored higher than 91% on verbal
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 65% on mathematical

Link: The 4-Variable IQ Test written by chriscoyne on Ok Cupid

Uh, okay.

I don’t know how interpersonally smart I am.

When I was living in Montreal, I spent years looking for people with a common link to me, in the form of a shared interest in SF. I found links precisely twice: once, a woman writer I met at a local literary convention. The second time was when I stumbled upon the local SF club.

No kind of relationship materialized with the woman author, for reasons too complicated to explain here. Amusingly, she did try to reach me eventually, though I’d given up on reaching her; but she called too late, and I’d already left the country.

But in the other case, I know for certain that my abortive relationship with the SF fans I met was hopeless. They were the sort of people who dress up as Star Wars characters for special events. I cannot express how much it displeased me that this was associated with SF fanhood. Having come to the genre late, I was horrified that a form of literary fiction so devoted to rational sense and careful discussion of the future, to brilliant and mind-boggling ideas, seemed to them to be all about playing dress-up at conventions.

10 thoughts on “A link and a meme

  1. There are lots of different sorts of fans in fandom.

    Sounds like what you needed at the time was something like ArmadilloCon — there’s not much dressing up in costume with that group, and the convention prides itself on being a literary con.

    And there’s this reading group that meets twice a month.

    Then there’s the whole attitude about filk, but that’s a messier subject, and one I’m not about to get into this afternoon….

  2. Perhaps there are other kinds of “fandom” with which I could be more happily integrated. But then again, having come to SF late, I see it mainly as a literary genre, with (less effective) spinoffs in film and TV and comic books.

    In some ways, I actually envision my moving from fantasy/horror readership to SF readership/writership as a giving up of juvenile interests and moving to something more adult. (The way some ex-SFers feel about giving up SF and moving on to “mainstream” novels.)

    As such, I guess I just find it disturbing that what to me seems the most juvenile and poorly-done SF seems to attract so much of the voluminous and visible attention.

    I know, I can’t have my way, and certainly shouldn’t. People are free to do as they like. But it did sadden me to find so little in the way of the kind of literary-type people around.

    By the way, I think the word “fandom” even gives me an icky feeling. I’m not so much a “fan” as an “enthusiast”, in the way perhaps Lovecraft or Wells would mean the word. For that to be lumped together with the dress-up people who think Star Trek is riveting and Star Wars is still creditable somehow bothers me, unfair as it might seem.

    I found a similar difference in refinement between people who did LARP gaming and table-top RPG gaming. The LARP was full of weakly-drawn, badly acted, poorly costumed archetypal characters, while the table-top had a good number of decently imagined, well-portrayed characters. It is, I find, a difference of refinement.

    Why should I want to be part of that overall arching world of “fandom”? Sure, it may be fun for them, but it kind of embarrasses me… so I disassociate myself from it.

    Certainly, if there were people being “fans” in this way about my own writing, I would be dismayed, not the least since such wasteful predilections are something I try to dissuade in my stories.

    I shall probably be less open about it when it is politic to be so… but for now, I am happy to say I agreed with the really hilarious captions to all of those pictures with a vicious smile on my face.

  3. I don’t think the text is supposed to measure how interpersonally “smart” you are, but rather how much you like constructing your learning experiences through people. I tested at something like 160%, which surprises me not at all. Most of what I’ve learned effectively has been through conversations or arguments with other people. While I was attending a small college that emphasized group discussion, my grades were high; when I attended a larger school with lecture-style classes, they went through the floor.

    It’s also a noticiable trend in arguments with Dan. When we’re trying to prove a point, he inevitably pulls out statistics, I pull out personal examples from my life or people I’ve known. His statistics are meaningless numbers to me, my examples are statistically insignificant to him. Yeah, a lot of rapidly deteriorating arguments there. *wry grin*

    As for cons and fandom… I don’t go in for the dress-up crowd either, but I like the tolerance I find at cons. You can pretty much walk around with your underpants on your head and no one will comment. And the way all those people, scatty though they may be, will mobilize to help someone in trouble is really amazing.

    I think sf/f in general suffer from the ghetto syndrome. That is, a lot of very silly stuff and very bad writing is put up with because it’s our sillyness and bad writing. On the other hand, the insularness of a ghetto can also form a tight community, and there’s little doubt that fandom is a community.

    *shrug* But I’ve met some truly amazing people at cons, along with the weirdos. My boyfriend, for example. *grin* And I’ve been reading sf/f for much longer than you have and have an admittedly higher tolerance for crap. And, I suspect, a lower tolerance for literary pretension. *grin*

    Incidentally, I wouldn’t toss out all fantasy as “juvenile.” China Mieville, to pull an example I know you’re reading, has chosen to work in the fantastic framework, and he’s about as far from juvenile as I think you can get.

  4. I don’t think people have to be apologetic about reading SF&F. There’s just good writing and bad writing. Yes, there’s a lot of SF&F TV and movie tie-ins, which correspond to certain niches of fandom, and you DO see these at certain cons. A lot of fandom is simply self-expression. But there’s also a wealth of good SF&F literature out there, and one simply has to be willing to wade through a lot to find gems. I grew up on Frank Herbert, Robert Silverberg, Isaac Asimov, Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle, Greg Bear, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Julian May, and of course Tolkien, to name a few. I read those books then and I still read them now, and I happily do not see myself growing out of what people think is blanket juvenilia, because they’re not.

    It’s such a shame when people limit themselves to ONLY one genre or another, and not enjoy different ones. It’s ridiculous to think that mainstream fiction is always necessarily better than SF&F; regardless of genre, there’s just good writing and bad writing. SF&F stories ought to have interesting ideas and engaging narrative to stimulate your imagination; they can either please you or make you think, or both, and then you know you’ve got a keeper.

    I agree with Kat that China Mieville is one to watch out for; I enjoyed Perdido Street Station and The Scar. He has a new book out (third in the New Crobuzon series), Iron Council, which I mean to get soon.

  5. A note: I certainly don’t feel apologetic about being into so-called “genre” fiction. In fact, I love it and think the best of it superior to even the best of mainstream “genre” fiction in a lot of ways. (Not that there aren’t good “mainstream” books, but “realism” is a genre too, and it’s ot better just because iot’s “realistic”, which anyway it really isn’t.)

    I just don’t consider costumed fans as expressing themselves, though. How can self-expression happen when you’re dressing up in a costume that took no imagination on your own part? Dressing up like a Sith is nothing like imagining a Sith for the first time (which is no great feat compared to imagining a cactacae or the Remade in Mieville’s work). It’s not self-expression, to me, it’s something like the opposite. Those fans I’ve met who do the costumes seem more than anything *lost* in their fandom, whereas I see good imaginative fiction as something that clarifies the mind and wakes us up to our world and ourselves.

    And I agree that Mieville’s excellent. I would say that his Perdido Street Station specifically caused me to take back my outright rejection of “fantasy”, and it was only after I read it that I was willing to give writing with any element of supernatural or magic phenomena a try. The next month, I wrote a ghost-story novel. Quite unlike Mieville, but I do consider him as having reopened a gate for me. (It’s a measure of my own ignorance that someone like Mervyn Peake hadn’t done so for me years before, and that it took me so long even to get around to Mieville.)

    However, I do still find that the majority of fantasy of the Tolkien-derived, swords’n’sorcery type, is just appallingly bad. I read loads of it when gaming as a younger man, and I will never return to that stuff.

  6. Oh, PS: I’m currently slowly alternating between reading Kat’s draft and The Scar. Kat, have you read The Scar? If not, I recommend it, yes, specifically because of what I’m reading in your draft. But I’ll say more when I send a crit of the first hundred pages or so to you.

  7. Eh, I don’t think they’re expressing themselves either. I think they’re playing. Which I can hardly argue with; I played dress-up enough, when I was younger, and played “Let’s steal other people’s words and mess with them” too, if only in my head.

    It’s play. Someday it may become more. Otherwise… *shrug* It’s harmless, more so than most of the reinactments I see. Like 12-year-olds dressing up as Sexy Girls or grown men dressing up like cowboys.

    The majority of the world is lost, and stays lost, in some safe little group. I find fandom more harmless and more tolerant of other groups than most.

    The link you provided is a pretty good example. I mean, really, what was this guy saying? “These people are FAT! Let’s make fun of them and say how they’ll never get laid, because it makes us feel better!” Sophisticated, perhaps, but I can do without such sophistication.

    Re: The Scar: yes, I read it, back in… 2003? Whenever it was up for a Hugo. I loved it, although a lot of the storyline has since slipped from my head, leaving me to wonder WHAT in the hell you’re referring to, since most of what I remember wasn’t much like my book, and I’m not sure what deficiencies it would point up, either. Oh, well. I suppose I’ll find out. Crit soon, while I still have fingernails left. *grin*

  8. Kat!

    Ah, you see, I must be becoming too old to see the point of such play. I really don’t. Do these people just wish it was Halloween all year round? (And yeah, I feel the same about the guys who dress like cowboys. I hardly think little girls dressing “sexy” enters into the same category, though.) I used to smirk at the men in Edmonton who came into my record store and direct them to the Country & Western section immediately, telling them I didn’t know any of that kind of music. We had discussions of how being a “cowboy” was just a form of role-play. But good God, at least in Edmonton you could dress that way and go to work. And there are classier, and less classy, cowboy clothes.

    Perhaps I was put off simply by the “play” element since I am put off by it in all kinds of other manifestations. When I encounter groups of people who care mostly about getting hammered every weekend, or who talk mostly (in great detail) about how to win some computer sim game, it disturbs me in similar ways. Perhaps because of my politics.

    So you didn’t find the link funny, Kat? Because I did. I found it hilarious. Not so specifically the “fat” or the “never get laid” bit, but mainly just the pictures and the harshness of the captions. But perhaps it’s just because the viciousness is directed at people whom I think help to keep the genre “ghettoized” or seen as “juvenile”. (I mean, it’s not as if Jane Austen fans dress up like Austen characters, do they? Do Faulkner enthusiasts across the nation stage events where they costume themselves as Faulkner characters? You see what I mean. Shakespeare’s not fair since he largely wrote dramas…)

    Read just the intro of the Scar, again, if you have it on hand. I only mention the Scar because it’s the book at hand. And spare your fingernails. The correspondence is not direct, and I’m only at page 100 of The Scar.

  9. gord wrote:

    “However, I do still find that the majority of fantasy of the Tolkien-derived, swords’n’sorcery type, is just appallingly bad. I read loads of it when gaming as a younger man, and I will never return to that stuff.”

    A friend of mine was suddenly reminded of his (greater) age when he met an interesting young girl at a local Warhammer convention years ago (before the Tolkien movies). “Oh, so you read SF&F too!” he said hopefully. “Yes, don’t you just LOVE ‘Dragonlance’!” she replied. Needless to say, they couldn’t find much to talk about after that. “She even had a ‘Dragonlance Songbook’!” he told me, shaking his head. We had a good laugh over that. I honestly can’t imagine anyone spending money on a songbook they won’t even sing drunkenly to.

  10. I can understand it, unfortunately.

    For some reason when I was running AD&D games, I never really got around to creating my own setting. It wasn’t that I lacked for imagination, but for some reason I just got obsessed with the Forgotten Realms setting—the idea of a pre-made world, and a much more interesting one than Dragonlance or Greyhawk, fascinated me. I turned into somewhat of a compleatist or canonist in terms of Forgotten Realms, buying everything they put out not for the sake of the thing itself, but merely for the sake of completeness.

    The scariest thing was when the urge returned, after years away from gaming, when I walked into a used RPG bookshop. It was bizarre, seriously! I still wanted to own everything to do with Forgotten Realms, including old issues of Dragon Magazine with Ed Greenwood articles on the setting (from before the time when it had been turned into an “official” setting) to the completely unrelated (and rather inferior) Oriental Adventures books and modules and their setting, Kara-Tur.

    Hell, even in Montreal last summer I found myself looking through the contents at a local RPG game bookshop, desiring this and that game system, even though I have nobody to play with here in Jeonju, and even though I am far to busy to be running any kind of RPG game. (Though I suspect I could create a hell of a setting, given the time.)

    But hey, cartooning is looking more and more like it’s going to take on the status of my newest hobby, so whatever… I just flip through gamebooks for fun occasionally, now.

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