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January 10th, 2009

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09:01 pm - For now we stand alone...
The world is lost and blown
And we are flesh and blood, disintegrate
With no one to hate

NOTE: I wrote this at work on Tuesday, 1/6, at around 4 pm Pacific. I'm posting it now because I'm home and not busy.

So on the subject of "more frequent", I already wrote a second post. How's that for more frequent?

I've been getting this feeling lately, and it's one I'm familiar with but can't quite understand. It's the feeling I get when I examine an interest I have and think to myself, "Your knowledge of this is far too narrow for someone who claims to enjoy it". Does anyone else ever get this?

Here's an example: I enjoy listening to hip-hop, and I'm in a nerdcore hip-hop group, so you'd think I'd know a lot about the music of nerdcore artists. Examining that, I discovered I have 2 of the 3 MC Frontalot albums, YTCracker's album, some of Beefy's stuff, Optimus Rhyme's stuff, and a smattering of random tracks. I mean, that's it -- I barely have any MC Chris, almost no MC Lars, and I've never even heard the majority of nerdcore artists (to be fair, most of them are utter crap; liking hip-hop and being a nerd rarely qualifies someone to make listenable music). As such, I feel wholly inadequate about my nerdcore experience, and feel like I need to beef that up.

This happens to me frequently regarding books. Despite my huge breadth of experience reading fantasy, I haven't read any Eddings, Goodkind, Rawn, Farland, Haydon, Silverberg, or any of the other folks who are (I think?) rising stars or luminaries of the genre. While I think books are one of the media from which you should seriously cherry-pick your selections, I constantly feel like I'm thinly-read. Sci-fi is even worse, as the majority of what I've read has been either Larry Niven or Star Wars, with a smattering of random stuff (some good, some crap) thrown in for good measure. I mean, how can someone be a true sci-fi fan having only read one Heinlein book? Hey, at least it was "Stranger in a Strange Land", right?

I feel this less regarding comics and graphic novels, but this has more to do with the sheer volume of what I've read than anything else. I still haven't read stuff like Johnny the Homicidal Maniac (which is constantly recommended to me by women, for some reason), Invincible, Ex Machina, Strangers in Paradise, Love and Rockets, or Y: the Last Man, but I don't feel like this makes my experiences in any way inadequate; I just haven't gotten around to them. Considering what I've read (and especially what I own), it's small potatoes.

The same goes for film & TV, for the most part. While there are a bunch of movies I haven't seen, I rarely feel like I'm missing out (unless all of my friends have seen it, which drives me nuts). With TV, it's more my waiting to see something on DVD that everyone else saw when it aired, which is what happened recently with Weeds and Mad Men. Even so, I can sort of sense the feeling encroaching upon me if there's something everyone says I desperately need to see.

I guess, upon examination, I tend to get this feeling the most regarding music and books. It's that constant feeling of "What the hell do I know about fantasy/sci-fi/philosophy/theology/neo-tribalism? I've only read X!" that just gets to me and makes me think I should go on some sort of spree of reading or downloading to make up for it. This urge is especially strong if I have some basis for comparison ("Man, I only have something-hundred hip-hop tracks on my PC, but I have literally THOUSANDS of rock tracks -- I need to branch out and listen to more hip-hop!") or if I find that the volume of what I've read comes from a single source or set of sources (like when I realized all of the neo-tribal lit I'd read was by Daniel Quinn, and immediately bought 3 books by different authors to make up for it). I suppose you could say this is a sort of inadequacy, like I'd be embarrassed for someone to find out that for a hobby I'm so passionate about I'm surprisingly shallow in my experiences, but I think it runs deeper; I think it's my Inner Jess telling me that if I'm truly passionate about it, I should know more and experience as much as I can. I should make an effort to branch out and read more and truly explore a genre or style, and not limit myself to the familiar.

I do know that I need to read more, and that the major impediment to my doing so lately has been the books I've chosen (they aren't bad, they're just ponderously slow to read -- they aren't grabbers or page-turners) I should get back to my roots and start reading the stuff I know I'm hungry for, and perhaps see if that's what I've been missing. I probably need to put down the graphic novels for a bit (they're quick reads, but they're sort of pulling me away from novels) and focus less on watching DVDs and more on going cover-to-cover with some fiction.

So… anyone else ever get this feeling?

Today's Song: the Smashing Pumpkins, "The Beginning is the End is the Beginning"
Current Mood: aggravatedaggravated
Current Music: the Smashing Pumpkins, "The Beginning is the End is the Beginning"

(2 Monkeys Launched Into Space | I Want You to Hit Me as Hard as You Can)


[User Picture]
Date:January 11th, 2009 03:02 pm (UTC)
I totally know this feeling. I say I love geeky things, but then when people ask what stuff I've read or seen, I have very little to offer.

This came up recently when Jake was asking me about my interest in paganism. I realized that for all the time I was interested in it, all I really did was read 2-3 books and cruise the internet a bit and just think about how I was interested. He's the type to ask in depth questions and I don't have any answers for him, I'm constantly saying 'I don't know'.

I totally just have a surface knowledge of a ton of subjects I love.
[User Picture]
Date:January 20th, 2009 08:12 am (UTC)
I had that same issue last year with animism -- for all of my vaunted devotion to what I believed, I'd studied one author's work and done Internet research. That is not a solid foundation. I remedied that by picking up a bunch of books and starting to read them, and it's helped make me a stronger animist. It's really important to be able to back up your theological interests, because people are going to call you on that stuff when you least expect it.

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