Guys, I Just Discovered Something! Diversity is GOOD!

I am actively appreciative that there are people who see the world differently than me. This is weird.

This was something that really struck me two weekend’s ago at Portland’s regional Burning Man event. There I was, surrounded by bright lights, mechanized spider monsters, circus stuff, and lots of things on fire. It was all awesome, and most of it not stuff that would have ever occurred to me. A fair amount of it was stuff that wasn’t entirely to my taste, but I was glad it was there anyhow, adding to the general weirdness and eclecticism of it all. I wouldn’t want to live in the glowy/happy/hippy world that is Burningmanland, but I’m glad it’s there. I really am glad that there are whacked out hippies who sing heartfelt acoustic songs about love and shit, even though I make fun of it and don’t claim identification to that sort of “tribe.”

This, to borrow a well-worn phrase, kind of blows my mind.

When I think about ideas, I usually think about them as potential universals. I think killing is bad, so I want everyone to act accordingly. I think evolution is very, very real, so those who disagree are delusional. When I think about ideas and values, I usually think things that should work all of the time. You know, Kant type stuff.

This is not true of aesthetics or cultural tastes, though. Not only do I tolerate things that are totally unrelated to my personal set of aesthetics, but I actively like the existence of things that have nothing to do with my artistic preferences. This seems really bizarre to me, and also kind of profoundly awesome.

I’m trying to imagine the world if it wholly conformed to my aesthetic principals. It’s hard to do. I’m imagining everyone wearing black and listening to Joy Division. Also, there is a lot of sushi. I’m sure there would be more to it than that, but I know that the artistic diversity that I enjoy is dependent on the nonuniversality of Joe. That’s humbling. If I want there to be neat shit to gawk at, I have to accede to the fact that my principals will not and should not always carry the day. The freaks from Burningmanland should also be doing their thing, for instance.

How strange. How unsettling and liberating to admit that one need not always be right, that there is a realm of experience and ideas wherein subjectivity is entirely okay. How wonderful.

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