celticdragonfly points to a lovely entry entitled “Psychodrama, Surrealism, and the Archipelago of Weird”

Culture, in the part of the world in which I’ve been, and, for all I know, in other parts as well to which I cannot speak, has two rough parts: the Mainland and the Isles.

The Mainland is what calls itself the “mainstream” or “normal” culture.

You know… Mundania.

The Isles are everything else. Everything that’s not “mainstream” is an island.

Nobody knows how many Isles there are. They are wholly and utterly unmapped. Each one is its own subculture.

Some Isles are closer to the Mainland, and some further.

Some Isles are closer to others. Some are big. Some are small.

We — meaning I and a very large percentage of my readership — live in a collection of close Isles which form up an Archipelago. The SCA. Fandom. NERO. Etc.

This is the Archipelago of Weird.


One of the things that makes the Mainland, the Mainland, is that Mainlanders do not and need not know anything about the Isles. For the vast majority of them, the Isles are something out of myth or legend, if they’ve even heard of them at all. And Mainlanders don’t much care for myths and legends. If they know anything, it is usually a hash of fantasy and exception, stirred into a thick slurry of dread of the alien. Insofar as they are aware of them, the Isles are not safe to their minds; they are seen as breeding places of all sorts of malevolent forces. What kind of a lunatic would live in such a barbarous place? Surely such a person must have something wrong with them — the defective and the fugitive.

The Islanders generally think of the Mainland as dirty, crowded, tacky, and morally impoverished. (Which is not to suggest that all Isles have the same notions of moral rectitude or aesthetic taste. Far from it. They merely seem to all agree that that’s what the Mainland lacks.) Many Islanders are refugees and refusniks from the Mainland, but on many Isles there are substantial populations of native-born Islanders. All Islanders know about the Mainland. It’s big and hard to miss; it has enormous economic might. Islanders, being in a minority, know far more about Mainlanders — and far more accurately — than vice versa. Many Islanders generally like to think (charitably, they feel) that Mainlanders can be educated; if you give a Mainlander good food, good drink, and a good native lay, they’ll realize what they’ve been missing.

Go read it. It’s good stuff.