Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Your Fate Depends on Your Weird

Fate depends on the level with which one engages Wyrd.

Wyrd begins at the lowest level with an economy package called conventionality that provides what might be called "herd fate", consisting of a set of fairly convenient, pre-made choices and parameters that come with the security of "it's always been done this way" and "everybody's doing it", providing a sense (or illusion, depending on one's perspective) of both continuity and bandwagon security. Most people choose this economy package. It doesn't require a lot of thought, decision-making is minimized to pre-selected parameters and standard crises, and one has a large pool of fellow travellers, as most people tend to choose the economy package. On the other hand, it tends to be more fatalistic, in the sense that people in this package have a hard time thinking outside the box (and indeed do not want to), and thus are confined to the standard options. Life outside the economy package can be lonelier, and the economy package provides greater definition.

On the other hand, unbeknownst to most in the economy package, Wyrd offers a variety of deluxe or "wizard" packages for the more adventurous. The more adventurous and unconventional one is willing to be (and no, we are not discussing anti-conformists who enslave themselves to conformity by reacting against it, but true nonconformists with the freedom to think outside the box), the more options there are. The greater the risk (physically, socially, or otherwise), the greater the opportunity. If I'm making Wyrd sound like an insurance broker or like a stock market, there are actually some apropo commonalities, so long as we expand our scope towards the profound. There are also elements of a divine casino in there as well -- let's remember how important gambling was to the ancient Germani, who formulated the concept of "wyrd". The "deluxe", "wizard", or "adventurer" categories do not come with the same levels of security the economy package promises, but then again, allow for much greater creativity, and the potential rewards can be higher. Life outside the blinders mean opportunities for increased perception and thus the ability to avoid obstacles and even calamities unseen or unthought by the herd. These packages are much more of what Socrates called the "examined" life (but in contradistinction to mere armchair contemplation, it is also a life that requires intelligent activity). Wyrd requires those in these packages to practice what de Bono calls "later thinking". Such creativity in thought and action does not come with warranties or guarantees, and those on these paths who fall quickly become the cited examples within the economy package of the dangers of stepping out of line.

An interesting phenomenon can develop within the economy package whereby the herd no longer finds it fashionable (herds and fashions go together) to think of itself as a herd, and thus develops a herd-style it decorates with superficial elements of the deluxe package, so everyone can feel special, without having to change their fundamental thoughts and choices. Wyrd tends to throw these folks the same sets of parameters --- for the economy package is essentially an insurance policy designed by the herd to minimize and domesticate chance. Chance and change are here seen largely in terms of danger rather than opportunity.

Those outside the economy package, on the other hand, tend to thrive on chance, teasing out its creative possibilities, and enjoy the wilder terroritories of chance (which can at times include wilder rides, but let us remember that the term "wild" refers not only to a bucking bronco (and indeed it is natural for a bronco to try to buck off the unnatural imposition of a riding human --- and thus the intensity of hte bucking is proportional to the unnatural control and domination being imposed), but also to a field of wildflowers). But the risks are greater, of injury and loneliness. Most people in these packages are hedgewalkers, occupying the fertile but wilder transition zones between inside and outside. They are not quite part of the herd, but generally not quite part of the foreign world either, but with a foot in both worlds.

Life for those in the deluxe packages is, in short, weird. The more weird becomes your home, the greater benefits you may be able to reap from Wyrd, because thinking outside the box allows for greater options ; but this does not mean that mere unconventionality -- especially as a stance -- guarantees anything. A wizard will meet all kinds of marginalized folks who have been marginalized for a number of different reasons, many of which include deficiencies, especially in social skills. Supporting the romanticization of their marginalization does not necessarily empower them ; better for some of them to gain in skill than falter in a low-esteem place that feebly thumbs its nose at convention out of sour grapes, while clinging to an idea of being "special". Many people in these places secretly crave to be more in the social center. They may make for temporary allies to a wizard, but the wizard ought to remember the dynamics that motivate them --- and therefore their ultimate loyalties. However, people in this class can strive towards and graduate into wizardry, and many times do. Their position in the margins gives them a unique vantage point.

Wyrd is uncanny. The wizard knows the bet of the herd to hedge chance often fails, for Wyrd happens regardless of one's illusions of security. Many times the security of the economy package is the security of the illusion of security, which in normal times can provide an amazingly robust sense of security! But the wizard knows that nothing is certain, and therefore possibilities abound! The wizard masters weird so as to master Wyrd (1).


1 One can never truly "master" Wyrd, which is stronger than all. This is not a matter of control, but rather a kind of devotion to Wyrd which Urd, apparently, finds charming, and thus grants blessings, thus providing these advanced packages for those who can achieve them.


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