I have spilled a lot of virtual ink in my last two posts trying to point out the limitations of reason and logic and arriving at some kind of appreciation for and understanding of the nous — that part of the human mind that experiences beauty. The reason for this is that it is my answer to all of the vitriol we see flying through the interwebs.
The nous is not only where we experience beauty, it is also where we experience relationships. There is nothing particularly rational about why I have the friends that I do, or why I love my wife or why my children are some of the most important people in my life. They just are in the same way that beauty just is.
The irrationality of relationships is what makes them so critically important. If they were rational, most of us wouldn’t have many friends, nor would the human race have much of a chance at having enough kids for the species to survive more than a few generations.
Relationships have a way of existing despite the fact that we disagree on so many things. Just as an example: I am an Orthodox Christian. The vast majority of those who read this blog are not. Indeed, I would venture to guess that the average reader isn’t even Christian. Yet, here we are. We all have a relationship playing the games we love to play.
Ultimately, this reality forces us all to engage that rational and logical part of our mind to understand why we have these relationships and how it is possible that someone else who can be be called a colleague or even friend can so radically disagree with us on a variety of subjects. It is within this space, where the nous and the rational mind work together that understanding those who disagree with us happens. It is in this space where minds are changed and transformed.
Again, for example: I don’t like Thieves or Paladins. Thieves tend to lead to skill systems which I don’t care for. Clerics are paladins, why do they need a separate class that doesn’t do as good a job of being a paladin as the cleric does? Yet, my Lost Colonies campaign had both paladins and thieves because the friends that I made while playing the game do like thieves and paladins. I found myself asking the question: what is more important? The mechanics of the game we play or the relationships I have around the table? In answering that question, I found a way to include those paladins and thieves.
One of the reasons why I have been blogging as long as I have is because this corner of the internet has been focused so much on relationships. We play games we love to play. We love tinkering with those games. We love sharing ideas about those games. All of these things rise above all of our differences. The OSR exists despite the fact that we disagree more than we agree. Whether we know it or not we have been occupying that space in the human experience where the rational mind and nous cooperate. As a result this hobby has been transformed.
Vitriol exists when we forget the nous and abandon the possibility of relationship. I will grant that there are times when it is warranted, but the vast majority is wholly avoidable and we’ve proved it for years.
10 hours ago