I consider myself a geek, but sometimes I feel like I am not “geek enough” because I’m not a fan of sci-fi or RPG computer games, and I couldn’t care less about meeting famous people from the shows I like. So, I was excited by the opportunity to participate in The ABCs of Raising Well-Rounded Geeklings series organized by the fabulous Caitlyn of Suzy Homeschooler so I can explain why I call myself a geek, and why it is important to embrace the geek in our kiddos.
There is this aesthetics (the philosophy of art) term I use sometimes in my art lessons, and it is “the sublime.” Wikipedia has a good definition:
In aesthetics, the sublime is the quality of greatness, whether physical, moral, intellectual, metaphysical, aesthetic, spiritual, or artistic. The term especially refers to a greatness beyond all possibility of calculation, measurement, or imitation. — Wikipedia
The sublime is the wonder and amazement in the world. It is the essence of a sunset or landscape that you can’t pull yourself away from. It is getting lost in the expanse of the ocean or of space. It is getting choked up when listening to a beautiful song. It is crying in front of a moving work of art. It is what fuels our fire in this world and makes us feel amazed or even makes us feel small amongst the wonders of the world (and beyond).
You can even describe the horror of 9/11 or a car crash that you can’t help but watch as the sublime–or a volcano trapping people under the ash in Pompeii or a wave overtaking a boat in the ocean.
The sublime is an unfathomable and unmeasurable sense of awe. Many artists throughout art history have attempted to capture the sublime in art especially in the Baroque and Romantic time periods. (The Art of the Sublime from the Tate has lots of examples.)
Whereas the beautiful is limited, the sublime is limitless, so that the mind in the presence of the sublime, attempting to imagine what it cannot, has pain in the failure but pleasure in contemplating the immensity of the attempt. — Immanuel Kant
In the past, the sublime was most-discussed in terms of the vastness of nature, but now I am going to connect this with being a geek.
Geeks and the Sublime
A couple of years ago, there was a video shared across the internet of Will Wheaton answering the question, “Why is is awesome to be a nerd?” He had such a wonderful response. I’ll summarize below, but here it is if you want to watch.
Here are my favorite quotations from the video:
“Being a nerd meant that I liked things that were a little weird, that took a lot of effort to appreciate and understand. It mean that I loved science, and I loved playing board games and reading books and really understanding what went on in the world instead of just kind of riding the planet through space.”
“It’s not about what you love. It is about how you love it.”
“The way you love that, and the way you find other people who love it the way you do is what makes being a nerd awesome…The defining characteristic that ties us all together things is that we love things.”
“You find the things that you love, and you love them the most that you can.”
What ties geeks together is not that we all love Doctor Who or space or whatever, it’s that we love things deeply. We are passionate about the world we live in. We have wonder and amazement at the world. We are curious and inquisitive.
We appreciate and revel in the sublime in our everyday lives, and this connects us all together whether the thing we love most is art or Star Wars or space or board games.
Raising Well-Rounded Geeklings
My advice to raise well-rounded geeklings is to help them find the thing in the world that makes them the most excited, that challenges them, and that they love deeply. It doesn’t matter what that thing is, but there is nothing better than finding something in this world you love and there is nothing more satisfying than loving it the most that you can.
Foster a sense of wonder and curiosity in your kid by modeling it for them. Continue to embrace your geeky side and share that with your child. Teach them that being amazed at the vastness of the
world universe and all it has to offer is thrilling and worthwhile.
Help them find the sublime in their lives–that inexplicable thing that so great that it draws them in and doesn’t let go.
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