Monday, August 11, 2014

The Fault in Our Heroes Lies with Us

Back when I used to blog about politics there was a staunch group that called themselves the 'Dittos.' The term was originally used as a pejorative to describe their thoughtless parroting of Rush Limbaugh's political statements; yet over time these people proudly took on that term. I have been in discussions with these people where they defiantly stated that, "If you would only understand that Rush has it all figured out, and we just have to get behind him, everything would be alright."

For years it mystified me that anyone would cede their own intellect for that of another. Then I realized that for many of these people they just felt like they didn't have the time to investigate the issues and to really form an informed opinion about what was going on. So they listened to someone who seemed like they knew what was really happening and allowed themselves to parrot them instead of doing the thinking themselves. It was easier and it allowed them to see the world in shades of black and white rather than be confronted with a nuanced world view. 

It happens on the right, left, and middle in politics; and for a time I had deluded myself into believing that it didn't happen in our hobby. I wanted to believe that in a hobby that held so many innovative and inspiring people within it that we wouldn't fall into that trap. But it's there just as clear as the nose on my face. 

Look for the divides within the community and you'll notice us lining up parroting one and another with countless quotes and links to back us up - even though most of them don't actually say what we hoped they would. Think of the debates and controversies you've seen crop up in the hobby. Gygax and Arneson? How many blogs have you seen bring out quotes from these two or describe themselves as adherents to some imaginary tenants that they supposedly espoused?

Don't think it happens?

Hell, you're reading someone who used to describe his play style as Arnsonian and who has dogmatically quoted Gygax like he was a divine prophet that wrote the words of Jove in stone. Why do we do that? Why do we choose to find greater wisdom in the words of others than in ourselves?

Over time I've come to the conclusion that we quote other sources for our hobby because it gives us a form of legitimacy that our own words lack and frees us from the responsibility of owning the words we've written and said. Sometimes that last part is what people are really looking for when they quote another person. 

I don't have a point here. I just needed to say these things out loud. 


  1. Or perhaps the quote just very eloquently expressed something you are trying to say, and we quote rather than clumsily paraphrasing, or trying to get away with plagiarism.

    I quote liberally ... from all over the place ... often song lyrics, not because I need the appeal to authority (I'm way too arrogant for that) but for humor value, or irony, or because I like a particular expression, or just because I can.

    1. Well put Tom. I completely overlooked that side of things as I was a bit dissatisfied with some things I was reading earlier.


      Thank you for reminding me of the good side of quotations.

  2. My first thoughts are rarely my own. Opinions read or heard that are taken in end up one way or another having a cause/effect on identity. I'll tell you what was good television when I was growing up, I've watched it all from reruns of Andy Griffith and the Waltons to every damn episode of Seinfeld and Malcom in the Middle. My deadpan is so dry that stopping to think about it desiccates sheeple by the gross at whatever informal shindiggity-do-da I'm attending (and they are all informal or one can take his bourgeoisie ass home and cry in his trophy wife's phony bosom).

    The excellent hobby we share is no different, is it? The Edition Wars are lame. They are for people that would rather bitch than sing. MFer, I don't care what ruleset you pull out of your Patagonia day pack- I brought my own dice. Any game. From 'Lands of Adventure' to an eight letter word for stomp on your neck 'Scrabble'- I want to play a GAME. Yeah, I like Bon Scott better than Brian Johnson, but I'm not going to tell anyone to turn it down. Gygax vs. Garfield? Well, along with the aforementioned dice, I brought my own deck, too. Talk is so cheap the a federal reserve note has more inherent value. Thanks for the rant space and inspiration.

    1. Damn Andrew, you were on a great roll!

      "one can take his bourgeoisie ass home and cry in his trophy wife's phony bosom"

      Fantastic line there, absolutely fantastic!

  3. I am a staunch Hamiltonian. You Jeffersonians can all go to hell!

  4. "I don't have a point here. I just needed to say these things out loud." - Dyvers

    You speak for bloggers the world over!

    1. Thank you! Now if I could just get paid for bloggers the world over . . .

  5. It seems children benefit most from histories, precedents, and family traditions -- aligning themselves with figures who have achieved almost mythical status -- right up to the point where they start making decisions for themselves.


  6. It is important to not dogmatically follow anyone else’s opinions. We should be skeptical of everything.

    It is equally important, however, to realize that others—especially our elders—have accumulated some wisdom. It is in our interests to avail ourselves of that wisdom even as we are skeptical of it.

    When I quote Gygax, e.g., it is because I found some of his wisdom to pass my skepticism and match my experience.

    Or because I’m still trying to decide if it is wisdom or not!


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