Erin Lausten

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Relevance is Relative…

Posted by erinlausten on October 27, 2010

Words written: 28,220           Currently Reading: Blameless by Gail Carriger

Escher-relativity woodcut

Photo by Barbara.Doduk

So, I am on a soap box today. I swore early on that I would get off of it, but it has gotten a little high and I am terrified of heights, so I think I’ll just stay up here. What is the current soap box? Relevance. There are so few out there that actually have any idea of what this concept means and even fewer that are able to apply said concept. Why am I on a soap box about relevance. Yeh, I know, I don’t get all hot and bothered over politics or social faux pas, but give me an abstract concept and I get all riled up. This is another one of those moments when I think to myself, maybe I am just not normal. Eh, normal is another abstract concept that I could go on and on about, BUT, I will stay the course, and stick to this one.

Relevance. In court you may hear objections based on irrelevance. In school you may have been or are expected to make relevant arguments. At work you have to look to see if the tasks you are performing are relevant to the job you need to complete. Culturally we wonder at the relevance of art (whatever the form). We are constantly examining for relevance. Is that road sign relevant? Is this website relevant. Am I relevant? It’s enough to make you cross-eyed.

If we all do it all the time, why am I on a soap box? Well, because relevance is relative. Most of us are pretty good at determining if something is personally relevant. But, the part where we generally suck is determining whether something is relevant outside of ourselves. Teachers have to do this all the time (and no, I am not a teacher and I am not going to tell you what my day job is, so there! neener neener). Teachers have to sort through their knowledge and create a curriculum that is both relevant to the student and to the society where the students will be expected to act as active members. What an absolutely excruciating job to take on. And they get so much flak for it. How often have we heard that the educational system isn’t preparing students well for adulthood? Well, it seems to me, there needs to be a serious evaluation of what this society considers relevant.

This is way too big a task for our teachers. How can we expect to have the teachers do it, if we have no ideas ourselves? And it isn’t just in schools, it goes all the way to job training. I don’t know how many times I have sat through presentations, trainings, etc. that had absolutely nothing to do with what I ultimately needed in order to do the job. Shoot, it goes beyond teaching all the way to what we expect our civil servants to be doing, what we expect business to do, etc, etc, etc… Culturally we seem a little lost, unsure of what we are and what is truly relevant to us in the grand scheme.

And what does this mean and what should we do about it? Well, now, I honestly have no idea.

Let me piggy back on this and talk a little personal, because this is something I have been wondering about a little myself. See, I set this blog up as a way to establish a presence online, since ultimately I want to publish novels. I am a writer. But I’m not talking about writing here. I write fiction, and romance fiction too boot. So, how are my personal philosophical ramblings and rantings at all relevant to that? Well, on the outside I can say they aren’t. After all, how confused would my readers be when they realized the book I am writing is a urban fantasy romance?

Well, I can answer that now. See, because, Relevance is relative. People are so incredibly complicated and yet they seem so simple as they walk past you. In a story, however, the reader gets both the simple action and the piece behind the action. So I am finding myself getting into the heads of my characters and they aren’t me. They are entirely different people whose understanding of relevance is not mine. And so I have to find some way to examine why others act and think differently. What drives them? What hinders them? What makes them smile? What makes them sad? Well, for me, it means writing down the abstract thoughts that are running through my head as I also write the story. Those thoughts ultimately impact the actions of the characters.

It may be crazy and maybe some day, way way way in the future I will be able to set this blog and that book together and see how they really impacted each other. Until then? Well, we’ll see what happens. Now, could someone bring me a ladder so I can get off this soap box?

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