"Embrace your code with the elegant grip of Python...-" Wait, what?
August 24, 2008 12:45 AM   Subscribe

An overly romantic person in a non-romantic world... help!

Let's start with some background:

I am SERIOUSLY romantic. I think in romantic terms and sometimes want to do something purely through intuition and emotion. It's not like "Oh, thine eyes shine with the stars", nothing overly cheesy, but I'm one of those people who stares at the night sky and dream of the beyond, the city lights, the freeways, and how everything comes together, who's watching from that building across the street. Then I stare down at a stray cat on the sidewalk and think "Where are you going, kitty in the streetlight? Were you searching for the meal that never came?" Or I could go on a journey and never come home, finding enlightenment along the way. Stuff like that. It doesn't help that this romanticism seeps into my daily life so that I view even the most casual banal things in a romantic light ("the car blinkers throb in impatience...").

Which leads to me feeling alienated. Growing up with a huge imagination and no one to share it with, I always felt like the odd one out. I rather stare at the city lights and compose the next poem in my head, but this may happen at a CompSci get-together, the most recent case being a rooftop party for Microsoft recruiting candiates. Since I'm a CompSci major, I encounter a lot of techies, but true to stereotypes, they are mostly "hurhur, GTA!" or discussing tech-related jobs and code. And I honestly can't relate to them, I can't think like them, leading to me drifting off to the side and sitting alone.

Don't get me wrong: I like technology. I can code well and learn programming languages; currently I'm fairly fluent in Java, C/++, Python, and hopefully Ruby on Rails soon. I like following the latest tech trends. But I'm also a very artsy person, in fact more creative than technical, and love to talk about philosophy and other similar subjects like how the human mind works, even if I barely know enough about these things. I want to talk in my "natural" language - full of imagery and description, rather than "That was AWESOME" (which I feel is terribly overused). And I have a head full of ideas that aren't remotely CompSci-related.

Sad thing is, even the more "artistic" people - poets, artists, and writers - that I've met so far don't have that romantic edge that I have. Their world is full of postmodernism (highly unromantic IMO) and increasingly, digital media (by the way, I'm talking about Berkeley). It's like human romance/true love is a dying art or something. So I'm left feeling like I don't belong to ANY group at all, and no one can love as I can. There's a few people that I find solace in, but I'm emphasizing "few".

Am I overthinking? Am I just old-fashioned, a modern Thoreau or Robert Frost or Shakespeare? Am I putting a romantic or philosophical spin in the wrong places? I've long accepted that it's not necessary to fit in a group, that I could even form my own niche and be the sole member, but sometimes.... it gets lonely.
posted by curagea to Human Relations (28 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Gosh *I* could have written this! Talk about choosing the other road that diverged in a yellow wood [ouch]!

I feel I'm very much like this too - composing odd bits of poetry on the daily trudge to work. Taking a visit to the riverside just to watch the swans swim about and looking generally awesome and wondering about their life stories, just as you did about the alley cats ! Similarly, I've a huge interest in computers and current-y trendy things... stay far-the-hell away from the GTA-eque players you describe and most things postmodernism-y. It's interesting that you describe it as 'romanticism' - but in hindsight I suppose that's quite accurate, whereas I've always thought of it as an 'airy fairy' or 'daydreamer' quality that's not quite Hippyish, but... kind of approaching it, you know? And wow I feel that loneliness too.

Actually I feel such a connection to what you describe, I'm being very careful here not to blab and come aross as a right freak altogether.

I don't think you're overthinking and I don't think you're old fashioned [well, I would have to say that, I guess, considering I identify you]. But I've managed to find others, even if it's just online: try spiritual forums [not the creepy kind, but I've found similar romantics in pagan circles. No, they will not try and recruit you], try anime forums [the ones for adults, not teenyboppers, the type of forums that analyse scenes and discuss the philosophy and 'romance' surrounding a series/scene]. Also, where I've mostly found people of a similar kin is in the world of roleplay - not the porny/S&M kind, but just regular written sort, where you've a character and the other person has a charater and off you go, writing about adventures and where the writing can get really bad and flowery and nearly give you a literary hernia. But it's an outlet, and it's fun and it can be as airy fairy as you like.

Just rereading what you wrote, grab yourself a telescope or binoculars and get into astronomy. Indulge in a night under the stars and learn truly about what's out there. Astronomers tend to be a really neat bunch that appreciate the ohmygosh!universe side of things.

I also find myself downloading a lot of documentaries - not the wildlife kind, but the fun and interesting ones about science and people and anthropology... the people on the forums there tend to be simliar to what you're looking for.

At any rate, to answer the question [heh], I don't think there's anything wrong in being this way - it's refreshing to know that there are others, and I hope you find many more through this question. If you want to get in contact, please feel free to message me.
posted by ticktockdoc at 1:16 AM on August 24, 2008

I cannot advice you much, but to say first you sound like a wonderful person, probably more "artist" than "tech" :)

I think everybody is romantic but most people try desperately to hide it, irony and sarcasm are mechanisms to cope and run from thoughts like this (I know I do).

Practically, you could look into more artistic ways of programming. Perhaps avoid tech and biz segments, go into artsy stuff. This could keep your skills, and feed your soul. Look into stuff like Processing, graphics and visuals where your analytic and theoretic skills can be used to create beautiful marvels of math and information... start hanging out with artists (off- and on-line). Start reading we-make-money-not-art.org, there's a lot of tech approaches to art. I am sure you will find people that resonate more with your philosophies, or at the very least,they accept very different world views

Or maybe go into game programming? There are other games than GTA you know. "Myst" springs to mind (as an out-dated reference). Start programming your own game maybe, create your own little worlds?

I realize you say "artistic" people are very postmodern, and you are right, but I just think you haven't found the rights ones yet. I work in music, with both very romantic and adventurous people, as well as highly sardonic and ironic artists.
posted by gmm at 1:33 AM on August 24, 2008

Romance is where you find it. Look at the GNU project, the rise of Open Source Software and Linux and tell me that's not full of romance. These things only exist because people were passionate about them and imaginative enough to believe they could change the world (or at least the part of it relating to software). Hell, I'm re-reading Where Wizards Stay Up Late: The Origins of the Internet and there's more romance in that than you can shake a stick at.

Code is art. Mathematics was born out of the desire to read the future in the stars. Codes and cyphers have enabled star-crossed lovers to communicate for centuries. Music is filled with cold, hard math, thought up by people who believed they were describing the secret truths of the universe. And maybe they were.

But the thing about romance, and especially the Byronic hero, is that romantics are meant to be outsiders. Do you secretly enjoy being the only one who truly knows what it's like to feel such deep thoughts, while everyone else is concerned with the mundane and down-to-earth?

Romance is everywhere you look if you know how. And if you can't see that, well, maybe you're not as imaginative as you think.
posted by xchmp at 1:44 AM on August 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

You should check out the demoscene, where code actually is art! (see the wikipedia article). Apart from that, I agree with the posters above - your fertile imagination is most definitely a gift. Such a creative viewpoint will influence you positively probably more than you are aware of.
posted by rc55 at 2:23 AM on August 24, 2008

I think you'd fit in with any number of hippy-ish folks (who ought to still be pretty plentiful at Cal, no?) even if smoking pot all the time isn't your thing.

Also, I wouldn't discount out of hand the possibility of connecting with "postmodern" artsy types. I minored in Creative Writing at Cal and hung out with writers of all kinds.
posted by juv3nal at 2:41 AM on August 24, 2008

This happens to me on occasion. I find catharsis works to purge it. Try watching a cheesy tear-jerker movie ("patriotic" ones, or underdog wins against great odds, work for me), have a good cry, and see if that "dries you out". Or read some poetry aloud -- Henry V's St. Crispian Day speech, or just about any Kipling. Or Beethoven's 9th Symphony.

In other words, embrace it, have a cathartic moment, and soldier on.
posted by orthogonality at 2:54 AM on August 24, 2008

I feel sad for you that you feel like you had nobody to share your imagination with growing up. I can relate to it, actually. But if you haven't found people who appreciate your cloud-watching, wondering out loud, "what-if" flights of fancy, poetic sensibilities, then you just haven't been hanging out with the right people.

First things first though, do you keep a journal? You need to be writing this stuff down, every day. For three equally important reasons.

1. so your creative impulses have an outlet and you gain a little bit of control over your thoughts so they don't come up at annoyingly inconvenient times
2. so that over time your writing will give you a good feel for what consistently moves you and where your creative impulses might lead you (and by extension the kind of people you might connect with best)
3. so you can stop feeling ashamed and alienated by the way you see the world.

Remember, the only reason you're comparing yourself to dead white writers is because they wrote.

Just yesterday I heard an NPR interview with British singer Johnny Flynn. About 6 minutes in they ask if he keeps a journal, and he reads something he wrote on the bus on the way to the interview. It's this beautiful poetic observation of his surroundings that touches on love and death and banal routine ... and he wrote it on the bus on the way to the interview! I hate people like that! (but secretly want to be one of them)

Second question, are you reading? Take a 19th-century British lit course, minor in poetry, audition for a play, read Emily Dickinson --- I think you might identify more with her than with Thoreau --- he was decidedly unromantic in the sense that you're using the word. He was about as cynical and uninterested in "human romance/true love" as any contemporary art student.
posted by headnsouth at 4:43 AM on August 24, 2008

A romantic view of life isn't dead. It's just not as popular as it used to be. But you're not alone.

Also, romanticism and technology are not mutually exclusive. They rarely co-exist in perfect harmony, but it's not unheard of.

Try Braid as talked about on metafilter.
posted by slimepuppy at 5:33 AM on August 24, 2008

Wait, what was the question?

Start to write. Seriously. Poetry, plays, short stories--just do it. Take art classes where you'd meet other folks. Creative activity is a good way to release that part of your personality and the nice thing is that, once shared (there are lots of writing/art circles online), you can actually connect with others with similar annoyingly romantic-optimistic-noncynical perspectives. *cough*
posted by Ky at 6:26 AM on August 24, 2008

I don't think your categorizing yourself as romantic is off, but you're definitely at the far, far end of the spectrum. I mean, Thoreau, Frost, and Shakespeare would look at you and think you're a bit overboard. They weren't "on" twenty-four hours a day, but it sure seems like you are. That's fine (neither I, nor Henry, nor Bob, nor Bill are judging you for it), but realize that romanticism isn't necessarily dying. It's just not omnipresent the way you feel it should be to fit your needs.

So maybe if you lower your romantic standards just a tad, you'll find people who are at least like you sometimes. And I bet you will find more of them amongst the artistic types than the techies. It's all about expectations, though. Don't expect them to go off on every journey with you, or go as far as you down the non-realistic road. You have to learn to the appreciate the little they have to give when they give it.

You know what will help? Engage with more people one-on-one. You'd be surprised at how people let their guard down when they're not in a group. There's much less of a need to be sarcastic and cynical, and some semblance of earnestness can actually shine through.
posted by aswego at 6:52 AM on August 24, 2008

You need to share yourself and there's no way to start but to start. I know lots of people who think that there's something about them that's different and that wouldn't fit in with their peers. My friend who works at a law firm and thinks she can't be 'intellectual' with her colleagues because they wouldn't be interested, etc. Mostly it's not true. The reason she can't be intellectual with her colleagues isn't because of them, it's because of her not feeling comfortable enough with her intellectual tendencies to bring them with her wherever she goes. Yeah, you may be the most romantic person in your office, but you're not asking for them to be 'on' with you 24-7, and I'm sure there are at least one or two who can handle and even enjoy some whimsy. It seems like you're looking for people to hang out with who are just like you, even when you're not *being* you.

Writing is great, but it seems to me you're talking about social interaction, which is (imo) vital to quality of life. Start being yourself, saying out loud the things that you didn't trust people enough to say around them, and you'll start attracting people who enjoy those parts of you and feel more comfortable in your own skin too.
posted by Salamandrous at 7:13 AM on August 24, 2008

To follow what xchmp said, I thought I'd share one of my favorite quotes. It's from The Mythical Man Month: Essays on Software Engineering by Fred Brooks.

"The programmer, like the poet, works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff. He builds his castles in the air, from air, creating by exertion of the imagination. Few media of creation are so flexible, so easy to polish and rework, so readily capable of realizing grand conceptual structures."

You're not alone.
posted by mcarthey at 7:26 AM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Am I overthinking?

Yes. Many people think in somewhat similar ways; otherwise, romantic novels and poetry and music and films would not be so popular, not to mention fan-fiction and all the other amateur romantic cultural productions. Not everyone is a cynic (strange though that may seem to the more cynical among us).

Am I just old-fashioned, a modern Thoreau or Robert Frost or Shakespeare?

Well, maybe on sentiment, if not on the quality of prose. Shakespeare was a big-time cynic, so he's out of the running. Thoreau straddled that line between writing in a romantic vein and and having other people take care of the practicalities of life, so that's not a bad model to follow if you can find someone to bring you dinner in your cabin every day.

Am I putting a romantic or philosophical spin in the wrong places?

Yes, especially if you are convinced that you are a uniquely romantic snowflake. See above.

I've long accepted that it's not necessary to fit in a group, that I could even form my own niche and be the sole member, but sometimes.... it gets lonely.

Yes. The problem here is not the romanticism, it's the loneliness. You need friends. I think some people make their solid friends really early, and some people make friends later, once they and the people around them have settled into their mature personae.

Like Salamandrous suggests, you need to be comfortable and open in your own skin, to be able to attract and connect with the kinds of people you need as friends. You want the romantic equivalent of gayday, to spot the subtle signals sent by the non-cynical to each other.
posted by Forktine at 8:06 AM on August 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

I think everyone here seems to think programming and creativity are mutually exclusive. Or that post modernism and love are.

Once you deconstruct love into its constituent parts, you still need to learn how to reassemble them and love again. The latter is the burden on all of us in what one might call a post-post-modern era.

You're not being ridiculous, you're just being nostalgic.
posted by judge.mentok.the.mindtaker at 8:07 AM on August 24, 2008

I don't understand this. OK, so you have an active and vivid imagination, and that's wonderful. So do many, many other people. Any number of people you see around you are leading rich internal lives very much like yours. Only a fraction of those people will communicate this - through writing or art or code or some other form of expression.

What is it, exactly, that you're looking for here? A way to share your thoughts and connect with other humans around them? Do you just want smarter or more articulate friends? I mean, you're living in Berkeley, for God's sake - this isn't a void you could fill with a well planned book group or meetup event and a Craigslist ad?
posted by DarlingBri at 8:16 AM on August 24, 2008 [5 favorites]

Your question, if I understand correctly, is where to find more people like you.

Not at Microsoft, that's for sure.

I think you want to become a student of Jonathan Harris

or of anyone who works with the programming language Processing
posted by gmarceau at 9:36 AM on August 24, 2008

This explains almost perfectly one of the primary reasons I left college (I was once a CS major as well). This led to me feeling the kind of aloneness that you feel, and that I still feel. If we're on the same page, it's the emotional separation that most people exhibit when dealing with other people (related to the over sarcastic tone of too many conversations).

Ok, now it's time for a rant, but I think this is what you want.

College did not allow me the ability to feel like I was guiding my life, instead making me feel as if school was guiding my life. As soon as I finish paying off my college loans I'm going to do the shit I (and you) dream about. I'm going to take to the road, and just walk and hitchhike all over the place (for the most part, penniless). I'm going to try living in an ecovillage sometime, maybe build my own house. I'm going to self-publish and write songs to explain how I feel to give others a glimpse of what I want (and if I'm lucky, what they want too). I'm going to demonstrate effectively. I will not be ruled. I'm going to figure out how to really live, and it's going to be hard, sad, and depressing sometimes but it's also going to be more amazing than the best job I could ever get and it's also going to teach me more than any school I could go to would.

There is a whole world of romantic people, you just need to find them. A lot of them are radicals, anarchists, etc. (but by no means are all of them romantics) A lot of regular folks are romantics, but they are bogged down in the "real world." Ask your friends if they sometimes feel like you do (get somewhat drunk or use some other social inhibitor if you feel it's weird to do this in any other situation). Ask them where this college thing is going, and if that's really where they want to be. Ask yourself these things if you haven't already. Give yourself time to think and maybe write some of your self-dialogue down.

"This world, the so-called "real world," is just a front. Pull back the curtain and you'll see the libraries are filled with runaways writing novels, the highways are humming with escapees and sympathizers, receptionists and sensible mothers are straining at the leash for a chance to show how alive they are ... and all that talk of practicality and responsibility is just threats and bluffing to keep us from reaching out our hands to find that heaven lies in reach before us."

That comes from a book by Crimethinc, and I reread their books all the time for inspiration. I've also drawn a lot of inspiration from Cindy's zine Doris.

You're not alone, nor is being alone a solution. You need to get desperate enough that you can talk to people, everyone, about meaning and life and beauty and all this stuff.

You should go hitchhiking. It doesn't have to be a long trip (just to the next larger town on the highway), but it will force you to be social. It will give you the desperation required to break out of your shell at least for a little bit. And then you'll know IT (that... feeling), and you'll want more. It'll be impossible (or depressing) to live without more of IT!

Your Ally,
posted by symbollocks at 9:38 AM on August 24, 2008 [2 favorites]

You can be into post-modernism and the more romantic aspects of art!

I had a similar experience at university - soft-hearted, intellectual and very into 80s indie, when most of my friends were very rational techies and most of my classmates seeming not to take an interest in anything beyond scraping through the course. It felt as though nobody really 'got' me, but as posters have said above, how could I be so sure others weren't the same? The thing is, if you feel like this now, it may persist when you start work - the people I work with now are nice but quite mainstream and don't share so many of my interests, and even if you feel like you're always the one stretching toward the common ground, it's sometimes something you have to do. In the meantime, try and find a group you can socialise with out of class/work/whatever who feel like you. I had techie friends because, even if their passion was computers, they were *passionate* about something and I admire that in people. I think a creative writing group or poetry appreciation might be a good start for you.
posted by mippy at 9:43 AM on August 24, 2008

Your ego, it is large. That's okay, but you can't go around judging people based on 5 minutes of conversation with them.

Be romantic. Take a chance. Get to know people and their rich inner lives. They have them, and they're there for you to discover.
posted by sondrialiac at 10:29 AM on August 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

Maybe New York City would be a better place for you than the west coast. Bigger fish bowl, less of the hard edge of silicon valley tech, bigger arts scene, etc....
posted by bottlebrushtree at 10:40 AM on August 24, 2008

As far as pomo and rationalism impinging on your sentiments, I think physicist Richard Feynman said it best...

...far more marvelous is the truth than any artists of the past imagined it. Why do the poets of the present not speak of it? What men are poets who can speak of Jupiter if he were a man, but if he is an immense spinning sphere of methane and ammonia must be silent?

As far as...

Sad thing is, even the more "artistic" people - poets, artists, and writers - that I've met so far don't have that romantic edge that I have. Their world is full of postmodernism (highly unromantic IMO) and increasingly, digital media (by the way, I'm talking about Berkeley). It's like human romance/true love is a dying art or something.

Maybe they know something you don't? Romanticism was largely a (negative) reaction to the enlightenment. Our modern secular western world-view is centered around enlightenment values, so you're swimming against the tide. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I (and many others) think there is great beauty to be seen in the world as it is, more so that in how we wish it to be.
posted by phrontist at 12:15 PM on August 24, 2008

When I see computer-generated art that I really admire, like Animusic or the Myst series of games (especially Riven, which I found amazingly beautiful), I wonder about the people who made them. Many of these projects are produced by teams, but there still has to be a bridge between the art and the technology. Knowing more than my fair share of dorks (and being one myself), I'd have to say that people who can span both realms are rare and wonderful creatures.

Perhaps a career in CGI or digital music would suit your ability to dream and imagine? If you're in Berkeley maybe you could look into an internship at Pixar or some other CGI shop in the area. And definitely write things down - develop your writing skills and maybe some day you'll put them to use building worlds for science fiction or even fantasy (at the risk of incurring torches and pitchforks, I'd say there hasn't been anything to equal Tolkien's Lord of the Rings and that was written over 50 years ago! Give me something new and even more awesome to read!)

There's some good advice upthread about finding more sympatico people in the meantime, but I'd have to say your mental processes are a rare gift with great potential. There's a niche for you and some day you'll find it. Good luck!
posted by Quietgal at 12:21 PM on August 24, 2008

I'll just add a caveat, as someone who spent her early 20s being thoroughly "romantic" (in your sense), made a few bad decisions and said lots of silly things because of it, and currently counts herself a sadder, but wiser, ex-romantic. Definitely enjoy your romantic tendencies of yours, but you might also balance them with a little healthy skepticism, and try to cultivate a sense of the limitations of this way of thinking, as well as the benefits.

We live in a pretty rabidly pro-Romantic world (have done since the '60s, I'd estimate, or possibly before), and pretty much all of pop culture is out there affirming that romantics are smarter, better people than humdrum realists-- that romantics have more refined sensibilities, more energy and fun, and a truer, deeper sense of reality. In actuality, there are some grave flaws in the romantic outlook. For one thing, the details of everyday life tend to be a lot messier and more prosaic than romanticism would like to believe. That kitty-cat in the streetlight? May have a really hard life, involving parasites and feline leukemia and incontinence, or may belong to some nice, but fat and hairy guy who watches NASCAR. All those deep subjects you love to philosophize over, but "barely know enough about"? Once you get a bit below the surface, human psychology, astronomy, and even philsophy itself all turn out to be extremely complicated and somewhat technical fields, full of unromantic acronyms and equations and statistics.

Die-hard romantics tend either to ignore these realities or to reject them as soon as they become apparent ("Pooh, guess astronomy wasn't as cool as I thought it'd be-- maybe I'll try studying anthropology instead!"), which means that they miss out on a lot of the messy, but beautiful, aspects of human existence. Romanticism can also be dangerously self-absorbed and selfish, because one's own fancies are always prettier than the realities of other people's needs. Shelley, Byron and many of the other early Romantics may have been great lovers, but they were also frequently cruel and neglectful to the women and children who depended on them.

As long your romanticism doesn't prevent you from appreciating or acknowledging the unromantic side of life, I'd say enjoy it. But bits of your post ("no one can love as I can"; "Am I just a modern Thoreau?") make me think that you might share this view of your romanticism as making you somehow a deeper, more special person, and that you may already be trying to define yourself as a solitary True Romantic by rejecting what could be some valuable life experiences-- like befriending those unromantic CS colleagues of yours, for instance.

I'd say, by all means indulge in the pretty fancies about stars and taillights, and it's cool that you love lyrical imagery-filled language-- but be careful about becoming quixotically obsessed with your own romanticism, or letting this single imaginative quirk define your entire worldview. Get some friends who aren't romantics, as well as some who are; read some postmodern theory and try to see what's valuable about it, instead of dismissing it as not living up to your ideals. And the second you get the chance, read Madame Bovary and Dickens' Bleak House (paying particular attention to the character of Harold Skimpole). Those two novels should give you a good sense of what to watch out for as you nurture this side of yourself.

Oh, and Shakespeare? As Forktine pointed out, decidedly not a romantic. Really, the very idea!
posted by Bardolph at 12:34 PM on August 24, 2008 [4 favorites]

Frost a romantic? HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA. Oh, my sides.

Talk about choosing the other road that diverged in a yellow wood [ouch]!

That poem, according to Frost, was inspired by his friend Edward Thomas and how he melodramatized completely unimportant life decisions. The two roads are the same, but the character inspired by Thomas makes the choice into a big deal when he's "telling this with a sigh/Somewhere ages and ages hence".
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:45 PM on August 24, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for all the advice. A couple of notes:

- I might have used the word "romanticism" wrong. In short, I'm just a really poetic person and see everything from a poetic point of view - and it's pre-modern poetic.

- I'm actually a designer by heart, mostly web nowadays. I know maybe two people in CS who are in the same position. I like laying out stuff ("put the button here, put the scroll bar there", something like that) more than typing out code, so web design, graphic design, illustration, UI design are in my veins. It's just that most CS majors are back-end workers and not artistic, in the visual arts/music sense. At least, in Berkeley it seems that way.

- I spat out Thoreau, Frost, and Shakespeare because... well... they're poetic, not necessarily "romantic" (see above note about misuse).

- Yes, I do read. Mostly graphic novels these days. Not the superhero stuff, I mean works by Alan Moore, The Sandman, Spiegelman, Eisner, Craig Thompson. Have trouble reading normal novels in one sitting, but I'm getting into Dracula for a start nowadays.

- Suggestions about dropping the CS major is out. I'm going to start my last year here, and there's no way in hell I'm staying for a few more years due to change of major, due to financial constraints.

- Yeah, I heard about Braid. I don't have an XBox though, but I heard it's coming out for the PC. As for creating my own games, I do have some story ideas, and they're pretty damn horrorific a la Silent Hill. Actually... now that I think about it, I don't know why I didn't talk more about them. I think it's because I'm shy and quiet in the first place, and just never thought about discussing them.

Anyways, thanks again to you all for the advice. It's great to know I'm not alone in this feeling. Truth be told, I might have put this question up too early; was talking to a good CS friend of mine before leaving Seattle today and found out he really liked my offbeat musings and impromptu poems ^_^.
posted by curagea at 10:48 PM on August 24, 2008

Response by poster: And I do write poetry and fiction, and draw, and mess with my music software. My muse doesn't have much stamina though. It's pretty sporadic nowadays.
posted by curagea at 10:49 PM on August 24, 2008

Dude, your question just aches with 'I am so special I can't cope with life'.

You have actually managed to find a whole university full of stereotypical comp sci majors? Congratulations, that's an achievement in itself. Or you're looking at them wrong.

You're at Berkeley. Maybe nobody who is interested in "philosophy and other similar subjects like how the human mind works" will bother talking to you about them because you don't make the effort to find out about them. Berkeley has a fucking fantastic philosophy/cogsci stream. John Searle teaches there! Get over yourself. If you're so smart and deep, learn something, and then you can use the floweriest language you like when talking about it.
posted by jacalata at 12:52 AM on August 25, 2008

Like many people who have commented already, I think I know what you mean and I believe we share some similarities. Except that I dig postmodernism and though I like compsci I didn't choose to do it in college.

You're not overthinking things, and perhaps it can be lonely, but I have actually found that many people, especially intelligent people, are 'romantic' in the way you describe to varying degrees underneath the surface. It just takes time to get to know them and get them to open up till you're both communicating at that level and not feel self-conscious or cheesy doing so.

I've found that hanging out with/joining online/offline groups that focus on sharing one's writing/poetry/works of art is a good way to meet like-minded people who are unabashed about being artsy and ... yeah doing/talking about the stuff you describe. Like forums where people post their works of poetry and other people comment/critique on them, etc. I did that for a bit when I was in my teens, but found their company a bit suffocating after awhile.

And as many people have already said, computer science/programming can be a medium for you to explore and express your artistic/romantic nature. Have you ever tried playing a MUSH? I used to play on elendor. People just stand around and roleplay characters from Lord of the Rings doing things and living their lives, except that roleplay takes the form of paragraphs and paragraphs of out-and-out imagery and wordplay and wordcraft. Gameplay is quite slow because every time someone does something in the game they uhh can take a paragraph to describe it in painstakingly artistic detail (some more than others, of course, you also get the players who are more economical with words and to the point.). It's like collaborating on a chapter of a novel on the spot, where each player takes turns to write paragraphs. I'm exaggerating a little, but you can look for logs of the roleplaying sessions online. And yes, characters can fall in love, roleplay romance, beautiful middle-earth butterflies, what have you.

In the same vein, you could also try your hand at being a 'builder' for a MUD/MUSH. These people write the text descriptions for the virtual world that MUD/MUSH players interact in and play in. You have the task of using words to bring an imaginary world to life over a telnet connection. Combined with limited scripting/programming functionality, you can create lots of fun, beautiful, lyrical stuff that you will have the satisfaction of seeing other human players interact with and connect with.

And there's always the option of finding someone like you (there are quite a few out there), falling in love, and being awesomely (haha oops) artsy together.
posted by nihraguk at 1:55 AM on September 15, 2008

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