Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Absurdism

Deciding something is "pointless" is all a matter of perception. I saw two things yesterday that were absurd to me at the time. One was a town that created the largest Dairy Queen Blizzard of all time. The other was a man who has devoted his life to creating art out of old gum.

Why do I think these people are so ridiculous? I'm laying on my bed watching TV in my underwear and these people are outside mixing 40 tons of ice cream. At least they are getting exercise. We tend to think of stamp collectors and Trekkies as losers. If they had just devoted their time to bouncing a ball on their foot instead of learning Vulcan they would be admired by people everywhere.

If you throw a basketball into a hoop for hours on end you are hard-working and dedicated. If you replace that basketball with a whiffle ball, you are considered special. The standards are pretty tight.

The Olympics have really highlighted the differences in what cultures see as important. Who would have thought that being really good in badminton or table tennis would get you anywhere in life? Maybe the Chinese felt the same way about swimming.

If making a giant Blizzard is what make someone happy, why should they feel weird about it? I say keep it up. If you want to flood downtown Denver with ice cream, just make sure you mixed in some Butterfinger chunks.

2 comments:

jq said...

Interesting thought. However, some talents/skills (regardless of difficulty) are just simply more pragmatic to develop.

For instance, a guy can work really really hard and learn to speak Vulcan, but what economic benefit does that bring? On the other hand, if he expends a comparable amount of energy learning, say, Japanese, he now has a marketable skill that can improve his life.

Similarly, the guy who trains day and night to perfect his basketball game knows that he could potentially use those skills to earn a career in pro basketball; sure, it's a gamble, but the potential payout's huge and it's possible.

The poor guy tossing wiffle balls at the hoop, however...well, as you said, he's just special.

Bottom line: It is ridiculous to invest a large percentage of yourself in something with little to no chance of seeing any return. Now, that return might just be pure enjoyment on your part (or someone else's), which counts; just don't expect the rest of world to share your enthusiasm for gum art.

Not This God said...

You make a good point, and a large part of what we see as useful activities have to do with the chance at financial return, but there are exceptions.

Past a certain age, there is no chance at becoming a pro athlete, yet a 50-year-old shooting hoops is perfectly normal. A 50-year-old shooting a whiffle ball will cause a slowdown in traffic even though it has the same exercise and monetary benefits.