Gwnewch y pethau bychain

The Archipelago of Weird

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.


Happiness is…


The Tiniest Bit


  1. I like how the author is pointing out that the Mainlanders don’t even realize the Islands *exist*.

  2. I did my best…

    I got tired trying to read through the comments to see if anyone had noted that any attempt to map the Islands and/or the Mainland is going to be subjective, and if you try to get a consensus you’ll end up discovering that there really is no Mainland. Everyone is, in one or another respect, an Islander.

    it’s a nice idea if you don’t push it too far. Like most ideas.

    • Re: I did my best…

      Someone did more or less say this, pointing out that some islands become large enough to be continents, but are still just islands, nonetheless.

      It’s a metaphor, and like most metaphors cannot be universally inclusive. But it’s an interesting thought exercise to ponder.

      • Re: I did my best…

        I think you’d need one of those 3-dimensional straws-and-balls kits to do a decent map.

        I am obviously a denizen of the Isthmus of Filk, which connects the Island of Fandom with the Island of Folk Music. There is also a bridge to the Peninsula of Quilting, which is a part of the Mainland.

  3. is indeed way cool. I know her from the SCA, and when I found she was on LJ, she was instantly on my friends list, which I’ve deliberately kept rather small (it’s larger than I really want, but I can filter communities and get it manageable again).

  4. I’ve seen this before. What most folk miss is that in many ways, the relationship is symmetric.

    It is said or mainlanders:
    “If they know anything, it is usually a hash of fantasy and exception, stirred into a thick slurry of dread of the alien.”

    It is said of the islanders:
    “The Islanders generally think of the Mainland as dirty, crowded, tacky, and morally impoverished.”

    Is not thinking of them as dirty, crowded, tacky and morally impoverished a hash of fantasy and exception stirred into a thick slurry of dread and the alien?

    Islanders are Mainlanders, merely on a smaller mainland.

    • Well, note that the author reports what the people in each are tend to *think* of the other, but makes not immediately make any judgement that those things are necessarily true. By and large, I think she’s correct in how the two tend to view one another. I’ve argued in fannish circles in the past that snearing derisively at “Mundania” is more or less the very thing we tend to be offended by when “mundanes” do it to us.

      I do disagree with you that the relationship is “symmetric”, however. There is clearly a relationship, which is why the author of the piece was trying to create a metaphor to discuss that relationship. But to suggest that there is no difference between the Islands and the Mainland is to ignore the truth that the Mainland’s cultural normas have a much greater influence on the culture *as a whole* than the Islands collectively, let alone the Islands individually.

      • Whehn I say “symmetric”, I do not mean “equal in all ways on both sides”. I merely mean that both sides have an munged view of the other, and the views are munged by what is in essence the same process.

        The author gave a general view of the Mainland attitides, and a more specific one for the Islands. But the Islander view seems to me to be a specific case of the general Mainland process. That’s the symmetry. People are people.

  5. So it is -- I’ve added Sideria to my friends list.

    I think Filkers are not an island so much as one of those rafting societies which travel about calling at most of them.

  6. That *was* an interesting read. Thanks for posting the link, and I’ve pimped in my LJ, too. 🙂

  7. I went
    I cackled
    I printed-out

  8. Good stuff — thanks for the link!

  9. Christian Spanking????

    • “I haven’t felt quite this dizzy in quite this way since the day I found
      out how *many* Christian BDSM sites there are on the web.”
      --Teresa Nielsen Hayden

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