Gosh, I’m glad our society is guided by the invisible hand of Worthington’s Law: Anyone who makes more money than you is better than you, and is therefore beyond criticism. This makes is so easy to judge my self-worth, and the worth of other people!
Some of my friends decided to treat me to the 6PM viewing of Sucker Punch at Eastwood Cinema 2, with the intention of helping me get over the funk I’ve been in since last week. Instead I came out of the theater feeling like someone had taken a dump in my head the size of a birthday cake.
Ksolaris drew this comic to commemorate the occasion. This is a fairly accurate depiction of our reactions.
Stone Temple Pilots brought down the house last night! Although I did notice a few things:
1. Scott Weiland dances like Christopher Walken and dresses like a French Pirate. Also, I think he smoked a Geoffrey before the set.
2. There were a lot of people there who only knew Plush and Interstate Love Song. You could tell who they were because they would sit down and text during the lesser-known songs like Dead and Bloated or Big Empty. A few middle-aged rich dudes and their dates started leaving the place after Interstate Love Song.
3. I actually like STP more than I like to admit. I think I try to downplay my STP love out of a sense of loyalty for Pearl Jam and Soundgarden. I still ended up losing my mind and singing along though.
4. Sinosikat’s set was solid, and I enjoyed their performance a lot, but it was a little out of place. Still, I do like me some belly button.
5. The newer songs sounded like STP but lacked… something. A friend of mine called it “substantial compliance”, as if their label forced them to include the newer songs in their set and they were just slogging through them.
Other than that, STP rocked Manila! I just wish I was seated in the VIP section so I could have grabbed some STP swag. Or Scott Weiland’s pink frilly scarf.
(I apologize for the audio quality. iPod Touch mic not designed to handle that level of AWESOME.)
So you read yesterday’s post. You can’t wait to become the very vocal majority dominating the little niche you’re interested in. But when you get there, you find another very large, very entrenched Orthodoxy already sitting on the throne you intended to occupy.
What is a would-be New Orthodox Pontiff to do?
You have the following options.
1. Revolution: Attack the Old Orthodoxy directly by rallying enough troops to your side to take the Old Orthodoxy head on. This is remarkably similar to becoming the Old Orthodoxy in the first place. It is the most straightforward (and most unimaginative) option, and is therefore well-suited for people who would have joined the Old Orthodoxy anyway but were marginalized for some reason.
Our Orthodoxy will save the world from your Orthodoxy!
This is the most iffy option because frankly, anyone entrenched enough to be the Old Orthodoxy has enough friends to stomp you into a bloody stain on the pavement, physically or socially. Never underestimate the power of a large group of people willing to trade independent thought for easy-to-remember slogans. No matter how nimble a bug you are, you will eventually be squashed if a million pairs of feet dedicate themselves to your doom. Or a million linked blogs.
Another problem with revolution is that all it guarantees is that if it succeeds, you will overthrow the Old Orthodoxy. You might find yourself ill-placed to take advantage of the power vacuum that results, or even if you grab the reins, you might only hold them for a moment. When the French Revolution occurred, the last thing the instigators wanted was to replace a King with an Emperor, but that’s exactly what happened.
Then again, there’s nothing more rousing than holding hands and singing “Do You Hear The People Sing”. Just remember that most of the characters in Les Miserables are singing the finale posthumously.
2. Subversion: Join the Old Orthodoxy, infect it, and then bend it to your will. This is another option that sounds really sexy from the theoretical perspective. Here you are, a small band of reformers, blazing with idealism and armed with a superior intellect compared to the moronic groupthink of the Old Orthodoxy, infiltrating the enemy ranks, infecting the group with your ideology, and then becoming its new head. Aww yea.
Yo here's the deal. We sign up with The Man, then once we're inside we stay true, stay hard, stay hungry. And then after that, we'll use our thugalicious street cred to OH HELL NO
The trouble with this option is that the Old Orthodoxy is, well, so much bigger than you. It’s simple physics: for every little push you give the Old Orthodoxy, it will return the favor with a great big shove. Suddenly it’s years later and you find yourself dressed as the people you used to despise, parroting the same opinions you used to disagree with, squashing the tiny little independents you used to empathize with, and wearing khakis, sweater vests, and Bluetooth earpieces. Influence works both ways.
Also, if you spout even a slightly different interpretation of the Old Orthodoxy party line, and someone catches you doing it, you become a heretic and will be squashed like a bug (see #1). You can’t be too different when you’re working inside the System. Which means there’s not much difference between you and the System, so when you finally do take over, nobody will notice.
3. Satire: My favorite option. This is the choice where you sit on the sidelines, detached from the actual skirmish, and make fun of all the people who are so earnestly trying to make their mark, often through the use of metaphor, analogy, allegory, parable, or any other weaselly figure of speech you can use.
Of course this still betrays the fact that you actually care enough about the issue to write about it, but hopefully your sharp wit and breathtaking insight will obscure this.
The trouble with this option is that while you are ‘nobody’, the Old Orthodoxy will treat you like an insect: a persistent but ultimately inconsequential nuisance.
Another problem with this is that despite the relative safety of catcalling from the balcony, if you persist long enough to be of actual consequence, and should the Old Orthodoxy lack a sense of humor (or perspective), you will be squashed like a large bug (see #1). Mercilessly. People ignore flies but squash cockroaches.
Yet another problem with this option is that should you become so spectacularly successful that you cannot be squashed, after enough time passes your satire will lose its bite and pass from revolutionary doctrine to holy scripture, and your followers (a development you may have never wanted in the first place) will become the New Orthodoxy, mindlessly parroting lines from your work in the mistaken belief that quoting previously-independent thought is a substitute for actually thinking independently. This has taken place over and over again in history. Just look at Buddha, Jesus, Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, and Monty Python.
Are you tired of being left out of exclusive clubs or cliques? Want to flash your membership card in people’s faces? Does your life lack meaning without a clear enemy to demonize?
Congratulations! You too can be the Orthodoxy!
Why Orthodoxy? I’m glad you asked!
Becoming the Orthodoxy enables you to appoint yourselves the gatekeepers between Us (those who Belong) and Them (those who Don’t Belong, because they’re weird or something, eww). Anyone who has ever felt the joys of initiating someone into the Mysteries of your Orthodoxy has felt the smug satisfaction of being Better than someone just because you were In first. This is a simple, penis-enlarging (or womb-constricting) joy that eludes many in this complex modern world. From churches to councils to covens to college orgs to confraternities to cosplayers, self-appointed cultural gatekeepers everywhere hold the power of Acceptance and Rejection of their own little fiefdoms in their hands. Inclusion and Exclusion. Salvation and Damnation!
And when people do join, what then? Why, you get to make up the rules they need to play by, too! The rules don’t have to be reasonable, or even sane! Feel like being called Grandmaster Sexay by everyone? Put it in your Constitution! Feel like collecting dues in exchange for the privilege of carrying cheap laminated ID cards or posting a hokey little banner on your blog? Label it ‘Article 69’ (or LXIX, Roman numerals are so fancy) and slap it on a piece of notarized goatskin! Everyone has to do it or they won’t be allowed into the clubhouse!
I've been a Discordian Pope for over a decade. But then they let in just anybody, eww.
And the Name! Oh, praised be the Name! You get to call yourselves whatever you want, whether or not that Name (or Title, if you like) reflects the reality of your Orthodoxy whatsoever. It’s true! If you don’t believe me, compare the Orthodoxies referred to by the following Names with the dictionary definitions of the words that make up the Names:
(Philippine Basketball fans, haven’t you ever wondered why the Philippine Basketball Association mainly plays in Metro Manila while the long-defunct Metropolitan Basketball Association played all over the country?)
But Multi, you ask, how do I create an Orthodoxy in the first place? Do I find people to include in my new clique? Do I find a common banner for people to unite under?
No no no, would-be Pontiff, you’re doing it ass-backwards. For any Orthodoxy to exist, it must exclude before it includes. The reasons for exclusion can be anything, including:
– Worshiping the wrong imaginary friend;
– Glorifying the wrong dead person;
– Not making it through an arbitrary initiation process that the founders made up;
– Not paying dues/tithes/membership fees/certification fees;
– Not remembering all the words to the Official Creed/Pledge/Motto/Song/Movie;
– Being the wrong sex;
– Liking the wrong sex;
– Liking sex at all;
– Hanging out with the wrong people;
– Not having the right last name;
– Being too ugly;
This sets up a handy Us vs. Them dynamic that often becomes your Orthodoxy’s entire reason for existing. In between converting the Unbelievers (those who see enough benefit in joining or danger in remaining Outside) to slaying the Infidels (stubborn holdouts who insist on retaining their own personal prejudices instead of adopting your Orthodoxy’s), you’ll be so busy that there will be no need to actually pursue your officially stated goals!
The benefits of this sort of black-and-white tribal behavior are so great that you will quickly find yourself dominating the little pond you and your fellow specialized polyps have aggregated in! Be the gigantic Portuguese Man-O’War of anything you desire! From vaguely Christian evangelical groups to tabletop role-playing guilds to parent-teacher associations, there is no niche small enough that it can’t stand a little domination! And if you manage to completely dominate your cultural niche, consider yourselves the new monoculture! Burn heretics at the stake with impunity!
But Multi, you ask, what if an Orthodoxy already exists in the field that I’ve chosen? Am I out of luck?
When I first started multipleegos.com it was simply an extension of my old LiveJournal, a place to post personal thoughts, photos of my trips, and so on. That was a long time ago, back when everyone had Friendster and Multiply.
Now I have Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr and Plurk. I have Project Otaking to keep all my geek-centric fixations compartmentalized, away from the sensitive eyes of the monoculture. (‘Monoculture’ is geekspeak for ‘people who think everyone should like the same things they do’.)
Making niche blogs tends to fragment your opinions, and I have many, many opinions.
See, I tried toning down my act. I really did. I kept my head down in law school, kept my head down at the firm. Parroted opinions I heard in the break room that morning.
But there’s a funny thing about opinions. The safer your opinions are, the less you actually have to say.
Being in sync with prevailing opinions makes you plankton, drifting along prevailing currents. Prevailing opinions prevail because people are afraid of sticking their necks out. Afraid to swim under their own power.
Take the current Philippine Reproductive Health Bill controversy. One very large herd of sheep thinks one way because the Church tells them too. Other large herds of sheep think in other ways because they hang out with herds that don’t like the Catholic Church herd (because they belong to other herds that the Church doesn’t like, like non-Catholic Christians, Wiccans, LGBTs, and so on). These dissenting herd opinions shouldn’t be confused with individual, considered opinion because of their own tendency to apply broad generalizations in their arguments (like the tiresome labeling of the Catholic Church as the Magisterium).
Or take the outbreak of democratic-themed revolutions in the Middle East. (‘Themed’ the way warehouse shopping centers are themed. Those aren’t really warehouses, and you’re not really getting a better deal because you’re inside what appears to be an industrial building. It’s all a show.) None of these revolutions are like the others. But it’s hard to tell when the only reason people read the news is so that they won’t be left out when all their officemates are discussing the headlines.
There is someone on my Twitter who loudly trumpets the visionary commercialization of geek culture by his coterie of entrepreneurs but loses no opportunity to diss Apple for being money-grubbing control freaks. (Because he doesn’t own an iOS device.)
If I’m going to end up agreeing with people who contradict themselves from day to day, I’ll be disagreeing with those same people by sticking with what they previously said. And if I’m going to be contradicting people inadvertently anyway, I might as well do it intentionally. I might as well stick to my own opinion in the first place.
So here’s how it’s going to be from now on: I’m rebooting this blog. I’m going to say what I think, and I’m going to make peace with the fact that nobody wants to hear opinions that don’t match their own.