Friday, October 24, 2008

Holding out for a Hero

Fellow Haligonian and eminently more successful blogger La Canadienne has, with her latest post, caused something of a stir in the perpetually reverberating catacomb that is my mind. You see, I started to wonder: who would I consider my JG*? Who would I give anything to meet, to – dare I think it – speak to? Is there someone whose career or success I aspire to emulate? Possibilities start trickling in: Werner Von Braun, Burt Rutan, Richard Feynman, Freeman Dyson, Frank Herbert, Joe Strummer... death has done away with over half of these already. Randall Munroe, Joss Whedon, the cast of Firefly/Serenity/Farscape/Battlestar Galactica/Red Dwarf...all of these are at least alive, but I'm not sure I aspire to be very much like any of these people. I'm not certain I could tell them anything that I appreciate about their work that they haven't already heard from any number of screaming fans at conventions. I'm sure they'd appreciate the sentiment all the same, but I don't know if I would gain anything besides geek cred from any of these encounters.

As for those members of my first group who have yet to shuffle off this mortal coil, my concern is that I'm not enough of a scientist, mathematician or engineer to gain from the meeting. I could jabber excitedly about Dyson spheres or SpaceShip One for hours on end, of course, but I could not talk with them about these concepts on a level remotely approaching theirs. Of course I can never know something as well as the man or woman who created it, but I certainly never will if I can't talk through the math on a graduate level! Speaking of men OR women, how about some individual women for this list? Imogen Heap? Gorgeous, but I haven't the musical inclination to elevate such a meeting above heroine-worship. Elizabeth May? Now we're getting somewhere: I can talk politics, I can talk environmentalism, and leader of a federal party is certainly the kind of success I can imagine wanting to emulate. That being said, she's not as iconic as, say, Rachel Carson. Also on my list of unfortunately deceased women I would have liked to meet are Nellie McClung, Helen of Troy, Hedy Lamarr, and Queen Elizabeth I. Really, though, I'd just like to know what those women were like, I'm not sure if there would be enough common ground (or, in the case of Helen of Troy, there might not even be a woman to begin with!) to make a meeting worthwhile.

Notorious figures in game development, ie. Gabe Newell and Ken Levine might be cool choices, but – as you will hear them and others say repeatedly – game development is really a team effort, so if you're only allowed to meet one part of the team, you're not really getting the whole picture. Not that I wouldn't enjoy meeting either of these two; I'd love to ask Gabe Newell about where he thinks gaming and digital distribution are going, and I have a pretty endless litany of questions about Bioshock that I'd love answered. Even so, my lack of coding knowledge could certainly put me on the disadvantage here, just as it would with Dyson or Rutan.

What I think the problem is with my process here is that I'm thinking about famous, or at the very least notorious people. These people are, or were, in the spotlight for reasons of extreme proficiency, competence, and vision. Speaking of vision, I think I'd like to meet Adam Smith, John Locke, and Karl Marx. These people interact (or interacted) with others who were likewise extraordinary. I think that I would be underqualified to meet these people, in a sense. I would be approaching them as inferior-to-superior, not as anything so proper as student-to-instructor. Goodness, I can barely hold my own against my housemates in most debates! The other factor is that since I'm at present very uncertain of what I desire for my future, I can't really narrow my focus to people I would like to follow in the footsteps of, so to speak. While I don't think I would limit my choices like that, I'm working on the assumption that this is about a hypothetical one-time wish sort of deal. I want to choose the person to whom I will have the absolute most to converse about, and the absolute most to gain from and share with. Of course, there's never a perfect person like this. I doubt there ever will be.

...ok, so David Bowie is perfect, but remember that part where I'm not musically inclined?

So, instead of calling it quits, I have a new idea. If anyone I don't already know is reading this, and thinks that they might gain something by meeting me (or that I could gain something by meeting them), leave me a comment, let me know. My blog email should be listed on my profile page if you want to send a private message. Of course, meeting people from the internet is pretty much one of the worst ideas ever, even if they're not actually CRAZY STAKER KILLING MACHINES, so the idea isn't to just give out my address and phone number to anyone who decides that it would be great fun to, say, kill me. If I remember to check my blogger email, there is a decided likelihood of email correspondence, though.

I think that in our haste to hoist the “greatest” up on our shoulders, we are in danger of missing the value in the rest of us in the crowd. Here begins my little experiment to see if I can't find some of that value.


*JG = Jian Ghomeshi, of CBC's "Q"

PS. La Canadienne, I downloaded some Holy Fuck to see what it was all about, and I'm pretty sure (will reassess when it's not 3AM) I am enjoying the holy fuck out of it :P

man, now I'm sad for missing their show!

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