Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Follow Your Weird

I recently rediscovered a speech given by Bruce Sterling back in 1991.  It's official title, I think is "The Wonderful Power of Storytelling," but on the internet it's become known by it's most memorable axiom as "Follow Your Weird."  Let me just give a couple of quotes for flavor...
Don't become a well-rounded person. Well-rounded people are smooth and dull. Become a thoroughly spiky person. Grow spikes from every angle. Stick in their throats like a pufferfish. If you want to woo the muse of the odd, don't read Shakespeare. Read Webster's revenge plays. Don't read Homer and Aristotle. Read Herodotus where he's off talking about Egyptian women having public sex with goats. If you want to read about myth, don't read Joseph Campbell, read about convulsive religion, read about voodoo and the Millerites and the Munster Anabaptists. There are hundreds of years of extremities, there are vast legacies of mutants.
I don't think you can last by meeting the contemporary public taste, the taste from the last quarterly report. I don't think you can last by following demographics and carefully meeting expectations. I don't know many works of art that last that are condescending. I don't know many works of art that last that are deliberately stupid. You may be a geek, you may have geek written all over you; you should aim to be one geek they'll never forget. Don't aim to be civilized. Don't hope that straight people will keep you on as some kind of pet. To hell with them; they put you here. You should fully realize what society has made of you and take a terrible revenge. Get weird. Get way weird. Get dangerously weird. Get sophisticatedly, thoroughly weird and don't do it halfway, put every ounce of horsepower you have behind it.
One of the things I love about the Old School RPG community is that this is the default, go-to mindset for so many of you awesomely nutty do-it-yourselfers.  Sure, many of us end up reinventing the wheel in some ways, but it's often part of the process of breaking down the assumptions and fundamentals of this pastime and building it all back up again.

I'm aiming to keep at it, too.  Work has been busy lately, but I've been trying to do just a little thinking and development on Homebrew '82 every day.  We'll see what the new year will bring!


  1. That's some great inspiration, thanks!

  2. Nice to see this surface once again. It was great to re-read it all over again after all this time. Thanks for the shot of inspiration.

  3. I like sophisticatedly weird.

    Thanks, C.

  4. I *knew* you were gonna link this! And Cyg, I'm reading a (new -- started today) book that is totally encouraging the reader to follow their weird. True confessions: 'You' has slowed to a snail's pace for me and I'm finding it tough to bring myself to the task of finishing. I haven't taken my red lips bookmark out of it, though, sooo not given up yet. About 200 pages in.

    1. Similar confessions: I'm stalled at only page 120 of my 592-page monstrosity... and May 31 is approaching fast. Either I start skimming or admit Cephalopod defeat... :-(