4.23.2017

Odd Folks

    

    In times like these, where many of the things we've taken for granted have proven to have a downside that is dark and destructive, doesn't this behoove us to become strongly nonconformist, rejecting society's constructs in many ways? 




    I don't understand conformity.  I have always had issues with conformity, and often found I didn't fit into the conversations about what's on television, or what's in style.  I don't really often know what the latest fashions are, and wear whatever I feel like on any given day. Often this means I probably look like what might best be described as, "Helena Bonham Carter meets skate-boarding gardener mash-up". 
    Whenever I've met someone who's also a bit odd in their manner of dress, in their ideas, or even in their behavior, I am immediately drawn to them.  I relish their uniqueness, even if I might not relate to much of what they say or do in a familiar way, since the whole point is, they're offering something I haven't encountered before.  Even if they are dressed in a somewhat bohemian fashion I have seen before, I may understand where they got their ideas, but because their choice of clothing flies in the face of all that is considered "in fashion" others may harshly judge, or avoid this person out of some sense of distress about their lack of conformity, while I will attempt to learn more about them
I tend to have way more fun thinking about things in unusual ways.
    The area where I grew up is very conservative.  There was a lot of ridicule aimed at anyone not fitting in, dressing in the same styles as everyone else, talking about safe subjects, not questioning anything to a degree others find tiresome and so on.  When in a more populated area, I find that this tension eases to a great extent, and you may even find people who value eccentricity, even in a rural area where people have come from away, bringing open-mindedness with them.
    Creative types offer displays and endeavors to fascinate and entertain, and often, to teach us something about ourselves or the world we inhabit, but only if we look for the greater meaning.  We might gain insights en mass, and grasp as a nation what needs to change about our culture in a tangible, or in a metaphysical sense.    Can such insights and cultural influence be found in a long-running popular TV series?  Perhaps.  That will depend on the viewer.  The viewer needs to have the vision, and an understanding of the value in examining ourselves and, more importantly, be open to discoveries that may lead us to change negative behaviors.  Does The Walking Dead inspire you to be a better, more caring person?  Something to consider.
    Most artists start off small and perhaps struggling locally, or trying to get a screenplay made into a movie, and so on.  But this isn't necessarily about those struggling or striving to be noticed.  Attempts are made at breaking into the mainstream with a fashion trend, or getting signed on a major music industry label.  Local, small-scale, individual creative efforts that are well away from the mainstream do go on to become well known en mass sometimes.  But how often are they unable to make it if they aren't conforming in some way to the trends, to industry's needs and caveats, to a need for money?  Their creative endeavors are shaped in a million ways, by within that system that ultimately is peddling "lack";  We consume products made by a system that we know is corrupted and destroying the planet.  
    Creative people right in our own communities are essentially the harbingers we must now look to in order to help us decide on how a new age and new culture may function for us as we head into an uncertain and apparently darkening future.   The value in strange displays of nonconformity may only be accessible and understandable in a hyper-local context.   These are cultural outsiders. What they bring to the table is often more valuable than mass-culture's offerings.   


    Often rejection of the mainstream is cause for gossip, and some  folks may find this attitude offensive, or interesting, but none of this is the point I want to make here.  Perhaps any attempts to change the culture by being unusual and persisting in committing fashion faux pas, or demonstrating an insouciant lack of familiarity with the latest episode of the popular television series, can only influence a way of being in the world if eccentric types, (be they artists, poets, or just plain folk expressing weird ideas about things), as well as those not necessarily creative, but paying attention,  both embrace an irreverent, steadfast rejection of much of today's culture. 
    They may make some folks uncomfortable, but those odd folks, who might cause us to chuckle and wonder, are an indicator species in our communities, counseling us on what about our own culture, its fashions, habits, customs and ideas, needs to change.

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