Are You an Eccentric?
Have you ever asked yourself this question? Have you ever suspected that others may see you that way? Did it worry or excite you?..
Whatever your answer may be, let us assure you that you are more likely to be an eccentric than not. You need a proof?
From a purely physical point of view, considering that the Universe is still expanding after the Big Bang, not a single point in time space continuum has the same location / co-ordinates for more than a split of a second, so any centre of anything remains such for no longer than that. Considering further that the expansion is not happenning with an equal force in every part of the Universe, it is likely that some entities having own centre within it continuously change their shape and definition and have their centres relocated.
From a philosophical point of view, all laws of the Universe are projecting themselves into all layers of existence, including human social, cultural and intellectual behaviour, which explains our continuous changes of views and values. Though we may get an impression that such changes take some time to occur, in fact, they happen every split of a second, too. So nothing in our lives, beliefs, behavioural patterns is centric. In fact, nothing in the Universe is centric... But you, of course, may claim that you are...
If you want some more "human" criteria to compare yourself against, we would like to refer you to the study 'of sanity and strangeness' conducted by Dr David Weeks and Jamie James and published in 1995, the only sound attempt (as far as we are aware) to evaluate the roots and causes of eccentricity by modern scientific methodological standards. Here is what these researchers discovered:
"In order to gather as much data as possible, we also gave the subjects standard personality evaluations, IQ tests, and examinations used by psychiatrists to diagnose schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. We weren't quite sure initially what we would actually do with all that information, but as the database grew, it created a full descriptive psychological portrait of the subjects. We tape-recorded all the interviews so that we could analyze the subjects' speech patterns, and that, too, gave us some important insights.
The study became a group portrait of people as varied as society at large, yet with many common traits. A profile emerged with fifteen characteristics that applied to most eccentrics, ranging from the obvious to the trivial. We found that an eccentric may be described in the following ways, more or less in descending order of frequency:
- strongly motivated by curiosity;
- idealistic; he wants to make the world a better place and the people in it happier;
- happily obsessed with one or more hobbyhorses (usually, five or six);
- aware from early childhood that he is different;
- opinionated and outspoken; convinced that he is right and that the rest of the world is out of step;
- noncompetitive, not in need of reassurance or reinforcement from society;
- unusual in his eating habits and living arrangements;
- not particularly interested in the opinions or company of other people, except in order to persuade them to his - the correct - point of view;
- possessed of a mischievous sense of humour;
- usually the eldest or an only child;
a bad speller*.
The first five characteristics listed here are the most important and apply to virtually every eccentric.
Nonconformity is, of course, the principal defining trait of the breed..."
(Dr D.Weeks, J.James "Eccentrics: A Study of Sanity and Strangeness", 1995)
A fascinating study! However, it would be interesting to know if the authors would come up with fairly similar results should they have researched just randomly selected men and women, as, surely, some of these qualities are most common to all of us.
But we may have convinced some of you by now of belonging to the eccentric breed. So, what next? Do you become a member of the Eccentric Club? Not necessarily. Not all the eccentrics are members of our, or, indeed, of any other club. And not all of our members are eccentrics (in fact, most of them would reject the very idea!).
One of the characters in "The Eccentric Club: Being a Short Outline of Its Past" (published in 1880), a book very distantly related to the club, written by X.Y.Z., says: "I'm afraid... that eccentricity may become fashionable. Nobody wants eccentricity a fashion - would not do. Want it natural. A man to be worthy of this Society should not know he has it himself. They say, I'm eccentric, I didn't know it. I'm the last man myself to believe I am eccentric. Still, I am told I am."
* Most of our members are surprisingly good spellers, actually...