25 September 2000


Meditations on Club 23

I'm ready to go backpacking.  The cold front has finally come through, and I stepped outside to a 65-70 degree chill this morning.  It didn't get much warmer all day.  It's hard to beat temperatures like this for hiking and camping.  It's a little cooler right now in the eastern Oklahoma Ouachitas.  I can't wait to get up there in a few weeks.  The first fall weather in Houston always gets me this way.

* * * *

I'm a little frustrated with one Club 23 thread in recent days.  One reason I have been disappointed in the past with forums such as HPO (and its predecessor APO) is that the conversation often degenerated into something far too personal and not nearly analytical enough for my own personal taste.  I am a person who thinks most people can teach me something, even if it's how not to think.  But in order for that to happen, it is incumbent upon me to be the best listener -- and sometimes active questioner -- possible.  I find it frustrating when my own conversations go the direction that the "Fight Club" conversation has gone, a descent into two "sides" debating the finer points of "useless wanking" in a pointed and barbed, if not a little personal, manner.  When they do go that way, I feel like I have failed in my attempt to understand and to make new connections.

This is not an indictment of either "side" in this particular thread -- gawd knows I've seen enough nasty internecine warfare among Objectivist types not to want to get involved in the same.  But I think there have been interesting points raised.  I've not seen the movie in question, but I do know from past experience that Michael (and Hanah and Andrew as well) often have insight into aspects of movies that I do not -- they literally make connections I don't.  I love to see those connections, even if I disagree with the conclusions they've drawn, and I learn from them  Given the choice between dismissing a film that I find technically bad or otherwise objectionable or hearing their insight on any given aspect of that same film, I'll take the latter any time.  In this case, I think Michael has raised some interesting points from the movie.  I'm disappointed to see those points so summarily dismissed.  Not knowing Jason well, I realize that perhaps that is just his own style of provocation, of moving the conversation along.  I don't know.  

That being said, the conversation generated from the "summary dismissal" is potentially interesting as well:  where is the line drawn between "useless wanking" and the planning necessary to achieving one's values?  I think my own personality probably puts me closer to Jason than Michael in this particular case.  I'm all for action!  But Michael's certainly not opposing action here -- his prodigious amounts of writing over the past year would be proof of that if such proof is required.  And given the number of unemployed literature Ph.Ds, I think it is incumbent upon Michael to consider his next steps carefully.  That's part of the "action."

There is at least one more potentially interesting thread emerging from this conversation:  in what manner and to what extent is Club 23 to be something other than "useless wanking?"  That's not a very productive way to phrase the question, however.  A better way might be for us to think about what we think Club 23 is, and where we'd like to go with it.  My own inclination is more local -- I want to find more people in Houston who are "Club 23" types (what is that?  Useless wankers or idealistic achievers?  Or something else entirely?).  The larger Club 23 group isn't something that figures prominently in those plans, although it already has served as a mechanism that has introduced me to more people I'd like to call friends.  And I'm curious what those new friends have planned.

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