Thursday, November 22, 2007


Kind of expanding on the previous post here.

Superstition is a fairly common phenomenon. I am not sure whether it is universal or not; if any of my readers are not superstitious at all, please tell me. I count religion as superstition too.

The whole thing is probably some consequence of lacking control over the outside world, or at least the groups of people who live and work in the less predictable environments seem to be a lot more superstitious than those who live and work in the more predictable and controllable environments. Pissing off the Spirits of the Stormy Open Sea is a lot more dangerous than pissing off the Spirits of Ubuntu Dist-Upgrades.

I grew up in a fairly superstitious environment, with my friends, relatives and classmates believing god knows what. That ranged from various omens (usually promising bad luck, and sometimes needing some kind of action to counteract them) to different kinds of "magical" actions, which were usually aimed at summoning magical creatures and were widely reputed to be extremely dangerous to the summoner, and which a lot of people nevertheless tried with no result whatsoever.

Some of it did rub off on me a bit. The things related to luck, mostly, because even at my most childish and superstitious I did not really on any level believe that three people in a dark using a mirror and some incantations can generate a Queen of Spades who would come and strangle them all.

The thing is, for me supersition is a burden. Not a very heavy one, because I am not very superstitious, but without any redeeming qualities. It feels very much like the obsessive-compulsive impulse to check whether or not the stove is on several times even when I know it's off. I feel pretty much the same way about religion, except less, because I wasn't raised in a religious environment.

I sometimes see "omens" around me, little things that seem to predict good or bad luck or something. I find this rather unpleasant in that why-don't-I-check-the-stove-again way. I would never think of sharing those with anyone else, or seeking any new ones, and I am quite annoyed when people tell me "don't do that, it's a bad sign" about anything; in fact this makes me feel like doing exactly the thing they asked me not to do, just to piss them off. (I sometimes used to succumb to this temptation, too; hopefully not anymore.)

What seems very strange to me is that there clearly exist people who enjoy being superstitious and doing those little superstitious things like reading horoscopes, etc. There are even people who pay all kinds of psychics to predict the future, and the reason this surprises me is that I certainly wouldn't want to listen to their predictions for free.

It would be interesting to hear exactly what kind of enjoyment people derive from those things. I am not sure I am capable of understanding, but it would be at least good to try.

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