Nerds are destined to save secularism from itself. In our unreasonably, some might say disturbingly, passionate hearts lies the missing factor in the grand equation of a new age. A time when reason is married to a life worth the living.
That life is coming, and in the creation of it, we could learn a lot from a larp. Larping, once the dirty secret of the gaming community, is busting out in a big way. With documentaries like Darkon, feature films like Unicorn City, and books examining the past-time like Lizzie Stark’s Leaving Mundania, larp has overcome its self-consciousness and is aimed straight at the hearts of a generation looking for a new sense of community. For those unfamiliar, larp stands for live action role play, and encompasses a robust variety of rich mystical escapism. At its most organized, it allows you to flee reality for a weekend and, dressed as a bard or goblin, live in a different universe for a while, playing your character in an elaborately crafted and exquisitely organized scenario with a couple hundred other similarly minded folk out in a forest or campground. In terms of immersive interpersonal experiences, there’s really nothing comparable this side of, well, church.
It’s a beautiful thing, really, the crossroads of so many skills that we don’t get to exercise on a daily basis. Leadership and drama, costuming and music, set design and social networking, all meet in this one concentrated burst of creative output that I think anybody with the slightest historical or whimsical instinct can’t hear about without secretly longing for. In every way, it is that realm of total human recreation that the 1950s thought we would have accomplished twenty years ago, but which our own misplaced sense of quietist dignity has prevented us from acting on.
People cannot do without people, and since we no longer particularly need each other on a day to day or community-wide basis, something must fill the void. Secularists, guided by their own lights, have come up with some notions, but the suspension of disbelief required to keep these secular “churches” afloat has been mighty, greater even than the relatively simple matter of believing that the forty two year old guy in a cat mask drinking Kool Aid across from you is, in fact, the King of Cats. We secularists place so much stock in our intellectual purity that we tend to instinctively eschew situations where we might come off as silly, but in the long run that’s really only hurting ourselves.
Perhaps you don’t have a weekend a month to spare. I certainly do not, and won’t anytime within the next decade. You could still try a gaming convention near you, dip your toe in just for that brief bit of time and see what you end up doing when wearing a different face for a few hours. It might give you a notion of what sorts of interaction you are missing that perhaps you were unaware of, what you need psychologically but were not willing to admit out of dedication to your stoic self-conception. There are even purely online variations that attempt to capture the essence of the escapist-yet-somehow-more-psychologically-true-than-reality feel of live larping (or live-arping, as the case may be). Whatever your commitment level, there’s some sliver of the experience available to you, and for creatures of a finite life-span, experience is the whole game.
Life is short. Imagine vigorously. Because if you don’t feel just a bit embarrassed about your passion in mixed company, then it’s hardly a proper passion, is it?