Thursday, December 11, 2014

Fun and Logic

I really enjoy a good, rousing everything-blowing-up-and-falling-down-and-people-running-around-in-total-panic/confusion “end of the world as we know it" disaster film, or an imagination-stretching outer-space yarn—as long as everything ends on a note of hope. I consider them perfect examples of how two elements...logic and fun...can either join together or be totally at odds. A classic “popcorn" movie lets everyone just turn their mind off, their eyes on, and shovel it in with both hands while totally ignoring the sound of logic banging at the door. 

Fun frequently requires "the willing suspension of disbelief," but, like a rubber band, it can only be stretched so far before it snaps. Each individual has his/her own tensile strength for belief—the point at which the band breaks—and I'm pretty lucky that mine will go quite a ways. I think that's largely due to the fact that I've never totally given up on being a child. 

A child's imagination is almost totally disassociated from logic. Life is a fascinating game that's never been played before. As logic encroaches upon imagination and begins to take on the role of teacher, one's choice of games changes to meld both fun and logic. Chess, crossword and jigsaw puzzles, dominos, most card and board games are both fun and involve varying degrees of logic. For many adults—me included—it’s often because things are not logical that makes them so much fun. 

While logic itself can't be fun, it can also be maddening. I tend to find many logic games frustrating simply because I pride myself on being logical, and I still can't get them. Mathematics, for example is pure logic, yet any game or puzzle involving anything beyond the "If Billy has three apples..." level utterly eludes me.

Likewise, the relationship between "fun" and "humor" is a most interesting one, and very difficult to least for me. While they are certainly not mutually exclusive, logic and humor, like logic and fun—of which humor is of course a part—can often be at odds, simply because what makes things funny often lies in the flaunting of logic. If we are led to believe or expect one thing, and something totally unexpected happens it can be hysterically funny. There is a certain shock value in humor.

And one can have fun without humor being part of the equation. "Enjoyment" is one of the first words in the Thesaurus's definition of "fun." Star Trek's Mr. Spock isn't noted for his sense of humor, but it's obvious he enjoys what he's doing. I suspect the same is true of many of those we call "workaholics," those who work with their hands, and artists. They do what they do because they love doing it. To them, work is both fun and logical, if they can't really see themselves doing anything else and wouldn't particularly want to if they could. I don't consider writing to be work, even though I spend six hours or so a day at it, but I most certainly do consider it fun.                                                 

The capacity for both logic and fun are essential components of human existence. The degree to which we utilize them, and in what proportion, varies from person to person. One can, conceivably, go through life without fun, but it is impossible to function as a human being without logic. I know, I know; most politicians, evangelicals of all stripes, hate mongers and bigots appear to be notable exceptions. But whether they can truly qualify as being human is a question best left for another blog.

My unsolicited advice is to try to apply at least some level of logic to whatever you do, to whatever you read or hear. It needn't be deeply analytical, and it really isn't all that hard. Just always ask the question "does this really make any sense?" The brain should be more than just something stuffed in the space between the ears to keep the wind from blowing through. Thinking can really be fun. Wouldn't it be nice if more people tried it?

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (


Kage Alan said...

Alright, D. You opened talking about a suspension of disbelief with films, a favorite topic of mine. You also mention enjoying the whole end of the world kinda popcorn movie so long as there's hope. What are your top 3 or 5 guilty pleasure pics for this then?

(And yes, I read the rest of the post. I was just curious about the bit above.)

Dorien Grey said...

So many to choose from! "Independence Day" comes immediately to mind, as does the original "War of the Worlds," "On the Beach," "The Day the Earth Stood Still," "Metropolis," "Day of the Triffids," and on and on and on.