I've been thinking about my own weirdness for some time. It isn't just my weirdness though, there's a visible increase in weirdness all over the place. My suspicion is that the master taxonomy of cultural labels, or indeed all master taxonomies, are breaking down. Really I think what's happening is an inversion of how we find our way in the world and relate our experiences to others.

You can see a really practical example in the explosion of musical subgenres in the last couple decades for instance. It's getting to the point where it's meaningless to slot musicians into a genre, so now we just define them in terms of their influences (at least from what I can tell). Academic specialization is another good example, with the minarets of the ivory tower beginning to narrow to points and crowd into one another.

This is something that has recently become really interesting to me. If you consider what a taxonomy is, it's a certain kind of index. An index is a tool we use to find things much quicker than an exhaustive search. Of course, if we relegate ourselves to indexes we're at their mercy; that is, if something's not in the index it doesn't exist. If I can't find my place in the cultural index, I don't exist.

Now, making the first master index was a massive feat on a societal scale. Huge numbers of people contributed over centuries. It turned out to be tremendously efficient for activities such as locating resources, organizing groups, communicating skills and making decisions. Arguably the efficiency gained by the ability to classify in this way is what enabled the proverbial West to gain so much control over the world for the last five hundred years or so.

A master index is a hegemonic technology, though, since it has to be maintained by an authority in order to keep its integrity. Such authorities might include a government, a business or academic consortium, or a publication. Control is maintained either by imposing constraints over a space ultimately by force or obscuring the structure with secrecy or specialized language. These authorities then naturally combine into an awkward, ephemeral superauthority that broadcasts a canonical reality.

This arrangement, however, is really just an accident of the economics of information. As I mentioned already, an index is extremely efficient, but compiling one requires an exhaustive scan of the subject matter and sorting the results according some criterion or other. Before computers this process would have been absurdly expensive. It follows that the people who took on such a task would want to protect their investment, and likewise use their knowledge to their advantage.

What's really important to recognize now, however, is that those economics have changed. We don't have to use these constructs because we can afford to make our own, nuanced, richly-overlapping ones. It is likewise more advantageous to share the results them than to hoard them. It's no longer essential to our survival that we fit into a slot in an existing system. We have never been more at liberty to make up our own reality (which exhibits its own pitfalls).

So I think being weird is really about the refusal to be classified. It's important, though, to remember why classification exists and how it came about: a desire to organize and steer society, ultimately for greater growth and prosperity which comes from being able to communicate a shared reality. We can replicate these conditions, arguably with greater effectiveness, by showing to the now huge number of people available to us who we are, uniquely, and demonstrating attributes like our integrity and the value of our contributions.