Thoughts on the Nature and Value of Geeks: The last hope of a rare few who have not given up on intellect

There are plenty of negative news stories out there but what they all have in common is that most of the participants of those stories, both on the end of generation, and on the receipt, all share crippled minds created for them by institutional restrictions socially mandated on previous historical context. Most of the problems of our society can be traced back to this essential problem. With that in mind I have been exploring over these last couple of weeks the incidents of society where positives are emerging, and I identified the Star Wars franchise as one of those things that create new, imaginative context to a new way at looking at old problems. While I agree that most of our human species is mired in dank, miserable thinking, I would say that roughly 5% are not. I meet a few here and there who are operating outside of the modern limits, who don’t care about baseball statistics and the NBA playoffs, or what’s going on in modern politics. They are seeking to fill their active minds any way possible. Most of the time their net results are that of social misfits whom nobody will ever listen to, and they will have no impact on the social circumstances around them, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any merit in trying, which they appear to be doing.

I was at the Barnes & Noble in West Chester at 9 AM sharp the day that James Comey’s tell nothing book came out. Actually, it told a lot—it said that in the Comey household James does what his wife tells him to do, and she was a Hillary Clinton supporter. So he broke the law to make her happy—its pretty much as simple as that. But I was there to get another book as well, the new Star Wars book Last Shot that was all about Han Solo, which I had been very eager to read. While I was in line at the checkout there were three other people there with me and they all had the Last Shot book in their hands—but none of them had the James Comey book. That told me a lot about the state of the world. I’m sure Comey’s book will sell, but the real interest was in fantasy alternatives to the present reality, and for people daring enough to ask, Star Wars was offering something to think about. All the people holding that book looked to be under 35, two of them were male, one was a female and they reminded me that there are people out there in the cracks of life who haven’t given up on a potential future—and I found that encouraging.

For my birthday last week my kids gave me a little Millennium Falcon Lego set to build with my grandson. While he was over during the weekend we took the time to build it and once we completed it he was very impressed with our work. He wanted to display it prominently on a book cabinet that I have which has a lot of models and trophies on top of it, because to him it meant a lot. As I’ve said before, the Lego Company has been doing some great work for years—both in video games and in toys. Every time I do a model kit of theirs I am always impressed with they way they engineer their products. This particular Millennium Falcon is a simple ten-dollar toy kit that you can get at Target, but I found it remarkably sophisticated in how it went together. After seeing my grandson’s reaction, I immediately considered getting the new Ultimate Collector Series Millennium Falcon set. It has 7500 pieces and costs about $1,200. He probably needs a few years before working on that one, but it did spark my imagination on how productive such an experience could be. That’s when I found this video from the Tested guys, who are part of the Myth Busters television series.

All of the adults in that Tested group reminded me of the kind of people who were with me at Barnes & Nobel at 9 AM sharp to buy the latest Han Solo book. Society from the outside looks at people like these people and thinks they are wasting their time on fantasy, but what I see and have experienced with them is that they are in acts of rebellion against the status quo—they are standing against the tide of lackluster thinking that is so prevalent in modern society. Yes they are geeks, but that is to say that they are people who have not yet surrendered their minds to the apathy of modern society. They can’t find what they need in society to fill their minds, so they have turned to fantasy to satisfy their hungry intellects. It makes me very happy to see all those grown adults sit down and tackle that Millennium Falcon Lego build with such unbridled enthusiasm. I would say that there are more people like that in the world now than there were 30 years ago, or even 60, which is important to note.

People don’t spend $1,200 on a Millennium Falcon 1500-piece puzzle essentially because they don’t like to think. As I mentioned earlier this week about the opioid crises, the main cause of drug abuse is an intellect in conflict with their environment. I would dare say that those people in the Tested group probably don’t go out and get drunk very much, and they probably don’t do drugs because their minds are in harmony with their existence. It’s a shame that they had to turn to fantasy to get that harmony, but at least it’s a mechanism they have discovered which allows for such a positive relationship with themselves. And when you visit the toy aisle at Wal-Mart and Target, they have entire sections dedicated to Lego and puzzle games because they obviously are selling. Just as people don’t show up at 9 AM to buy the latest Han Solo book because they want to go out and smoke crack—to turn off their minds. Reading, no matter what it is turns on a mind and is a very positive experience.

Most of what drives our world to evil is the vacancy left when people have surrendered thought to the lazy whims of groupthink. Sports in many ways is a groupthink activity and is very popular with modern civilization. But more and more I am seeing the influence of fantasy elements like Star Wars creating in people a desire to sit down and build Millennium Falcon models and read books about that ship in stories that mean something to those who participate in the task of discovery. I saw in those three-other people in the bookstore line with me that day hope in their eyes. The world around them was letting them down in many ways and they were thoughtful enough to contemplate the issues. But their minds were hungry, and society wasn’t feeding them, so they turned out with me at 9 AM to buy a book they couldn’t wait to get their hands on. And I’m noticing more of these people year by year, and that gives me a lot of hope for tomorrow. They are still in the extreme minority, but maybe, just maybe, they will become the majority in a few hundred years—and that would be a great thing for the human race!

Last Shot was the first Star Wars book that I have read since 2013/14 and I admit I only did it because it featured Han Solo as the primary character. I wanted to see how they were going to deal with Solo ahead of the movie coming out on May 25th. I have said many nice things over the past years about how important I think Star Wars books are to the next generation for all the reasons outlined in this article. But I have been very skeptical about the direction the Disney ownership has taken their acquired Star Wars franchise from a person I greatly admire in George Lucas. I am not happy about the more progressive direction that Star Wars has taken, but I am very happy that it is fueling the imaginations of people like those great Tested guys. I can say that after reading Last Shot I enjoyed it enormously and I will probably go and read the long list of new books that have been published since 2012. There is plenty of good value in those stories that justify the investment and all the fun that a grandpa can have with his grandkids for the next thirty years. And that all by itself is a wonderful attribute. It was a good book, and it made me very happy to have the opportunity to read it—which I did voraciously!

Rich Hoffman

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