Praise of the bizarre

Sculpture at Palmer Square ,Kedzie Blvd., Chicago
“The Helping Hand”, sculpture by artist Carrie Fischer, Palmer Square Park, Chicago (2021)

As you give an account of your day to a friend or spouse, do you tell him that you brushed your teeth or drove your car to work? Most likely, not. You will, though, tell him that you saw a cockroach attempting to crawl onto your tooth brush this morning or that you spent two hours in traffic because of a fiery car crash in the expressway, with injured people and all. Our imagination lies not in the vast majority of regular, routine events that crowd our lives. Those are boring. The focus of our interest will always gravitate towards novelty and the unusual. The normal is seldom material for conversation. We humans love the outliers , the abnormal. It’s what excites us, what makes us tell stories and what leads us to imagine a future, explain our present or remember the past.

As much as people want to be seen and judged as normal or standard, the reality is that we are all tickled by the abnormal, the extraordinary. Punks and teenagers are completely bought to that notion and they have little shame in expressing themselves. Add to this group: artists, storytellers, poets and scientists. These characters dwell in places far from the center. Writers will always write about the unusual. Scientists will always be fascinated by data outliers. By boldly presenting themselves as different, punks and teenagers are seeking a sense of identity.

It’s just human nature, this human thirst for the weird and the unconventional. But with that thirst comes also a big fear: few of us are comfortable with the idea of being labeled “weirdos.” And, yet, if we could only conquer that fear, we would probably come closer to life in its purest essence. Perhaps we should look inside ourselves and dig out our unique, bizarre stories, discover dark secrets, become aware of that persistent shadow that looms behind our orderly lives. Give all that the attention it craves. Name your weirdness, your eccentricities, talk about them, indulge in them. If nothing else, you will be a little more human and, who knows, you may even become the poet of your own existence*

2 Comments

  1. It is indeed the extraordinary that gets the attention. And that partly explains why memoirs, biographies, autobiographies derail from factual truth. A life that is going to be recounted must emphasize the unusual, hyperbolize facts to get an audience.

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    1. Such a good point! We all do this one way or another, when we want to get a point across. Which reminds me that our love of conspiracy theories in this country probably also stems from craving the fantastic and the obtuse. There is a place for all of that but definitely not in the day to day. You just gave me an idea for another post, thanks!

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