Ktismatics

26 February 2008

F*O*O*J Questionnaire 1.0

Filed under: Fiction, Psychology — ktismatics @ 11:16 am

In light of my less-than-gratifying introduction to the school gifted program here in town, I’m thinking about starting a local chapter of the F*O*O*J (Fantastic Order of Justice — see this post by Shaviro for background intelligence). My hypothetical job in the F*O*O*J is to be “the Dr. Phil for the extraordinarily abled” among the high school artsy/intellectual set. I need a superhero name, of course: Dr. Brain is taken, and so is Dr. Sinthome. But wait… I’ve already got a secret identity: Ktismatics. I think for this gig I’d become Dr. Ktismatics.

On my walk this morning I realized I ought to have some means of identifying potential F*O*O*J members. I don’t think I want to administer an objective test of superhero-hood; instead it should be a self-selection screening tool, to be completed in secret, the results revealed to no one. Now it so happens that I used to write questionnaires for a living as part of my ordinary identity, so I figured I ought to be able to come up with something. Here are some possible questionnaire items that have come to mind so far. They’re all yes/no questions.

* * *

1. Do you have a superpower (e.g., ability to fly, ability to make yourself invisible, ability to detect hypocrisy)?

2. Do you ever worry that maybe your superpower controls you?

3. Do you have a nemesis or archrival?

4. If your archrival were eliminated, would you look for some other villain to take his or her place?

5. If you couldn’t find another archrival, would you have to create one?

6. Do you sometimes wonder whether your archrival is really a projection of yourself?

7. Do you assume an ordinary identity (a “Clark Kent”) in order to disguise your superhero identity?

8. Do you ever wonder whether your ordinary identity is more “real” than your superhero identity?

9. Do you ever have internal dominance wars between your ordinary identity and your superhero identity?

10. Does your ordinary identity ever get the urge to “out” itself, thereby revealing your secret super-identity to the world?

11. Do you have a secret weakness (a “kryptonite”)?

12. If you overcame your secret weakness, would you have to find/make another one to take its place?

13. Do you sometimes wish that your secret weakness would be discovered, thereby rendering you powerless?

14. Do you believe that your greatest archrival is The Enemy Within?

15. Do you believe that a disability might actually be an extraordinary ability in disguise? (E.g., autism is actually the secret power to recognize the irreducible otherness of other people.)

16. Do you believe that you can lose your superpower?

17. Do you ever wish you would lose your superpower?

18. Do you ever think that you’re a fraud, that your superpower isn’t so super after all?

19. If you were destroyed or rendered powerless by your archenemy or your secret weakness, do you believe that your superpower would leave your body and find someone else to possess?

20. Do you ever wonder if you might be a fictional character?

21. Do you believe that other people with superpowers are the only ones who can ever really know you?

22. Do you find yourself competing with other “extraordinarily abled” people?

23. Do you sometimes wish you were the only “extraordinarily abled” person on earth?

24. Do you believe that with great power comes great responsibility?

25. Are you ever tempted to turn your powers against the world of ordinary people, squashing them like bugs?

* * *

Okay, that’s it — the first draft, version 1.0. Do any of these questions seem particularly good/worthless for identifying potential F*O*O*J members? Do any other good questions come to your mind? How should the questionnaire be scored?

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16 Comments »

  1. I think maybe the q’aire ought to probe parallel universe theory: Do you believe there is a parallel universe where everyone has your superpower? Have you ever visited this parallel universe? etc.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 26 February 2008 @ 1:36 pm

  2. This looks like a live journal quick-survey glossed with urine from Schrodinger’s cat.

    I’ll pass and await the next interesting screencap(s).

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    Comment by seyfried — 26 February 2008 @ 3:12 pm

  3. So you’d rather talk about pictures of somebody else’s creative output than about my own content? Nice rhizomatic resonance, Seyfried. As you sit in the audience waiting for something more entertaining to appear on the screen and capture your attention, can I assume that your description of my questionnaire is not complimentary? Can I further assume that you wouldn’t regard this questionnaire as a viable entree into the world of the gifted-so-called in my superheroic attempt to counteract the evil influence of the SENG (Serving the Emotional Needs of the Gifted) on today’s youth?

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    Comment by ktismatics — 26 February 2008 @ 3:24 pm

  4. Maybe some Nietzschean items — Would you say that you are beyond good and evil? Or Pauline — Do you find that your power is perfected in weakness? Or Derridean — Do you think it’s more important to be different than to be better? Or Lacanian — Do you think your superpower is trying to tell you something it cannot express in words?

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    Comment by ktismatics — 26 February 2008 @ 3:45 pm

  5. “assume that your description of my questionnaire is not complimentary?”

    That should be your superpower. Relax, Ktis. I’m half-joking here. But to answer all your above questions “yes” (with maybe a “no” for Derrida).

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    Comment by seyfried — 26 February 2008 @ 3:51 pm

  6. No, it probably really is lame. That lets me off the hook for doing anything practical for awhile longer.

    The book about the FOOJ that Shaviro reviews — the first chapter looks pretty good, but I could imagine it getting tiresome after about 50 pages. It must be hard to write a seriously funny madcap satire of popular culture, since they usually seem to fail.

    The cinematic counterpart to the FOOJ is The Incredibles, which if we’re not careful I’ll have to do a post on. I found it very entertaining and thoughtful, as a sort of an Ayn Rand vision of America. The Enemy is Within in the form of enforced mediocrity, which can then be exploited by the Evil Genius who no longer meets any resistance.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 26 February 2008 @ 5:12 pm

  7. Okay, that’s it — the first draft, version 1.0. Do any of these questions seem particularly good/worthless for identifying potential F*O*O*J members? Do any other good questions come to your mind? How should the questionnaire be scored?

    The only thing that’s missing, actually, is a group hug, dr Clysmatics.

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    Comment by parodycenter — 27 February 2008 @ 1:28 pm

  8. Jesus you guys are ruthless. At some point you’ll have to tell me about the immanently Deleuzian educational videos you’re producing for your new corporate employer. And maybe Seyfried can discuss the neoclassical poetics of the LIFO-FIFO inventory accounting controversy.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 27 February 2008 @ 2:14 pm

  9. Yesterday I had to conceptualize one for the old people’s home, and for the character, I thought of a butch dyke with huge arms and holding an euthanasia syringe for every occasion… but you’re right, I don’t think I would sell it successfully to the client.

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    Comment by parodycenter — 27 February 2008 @ 4:55 pm

  10. The Enemy is Within in the form of enforced mediocrity, which can then be exploited by the Evil Genius who no longer meets any resistance.

    ”Here at Pixar we make The Best Animation, write The Best Stories and have the Biggest Balls in the animation industry.”

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    Comment by parodycenter — 27 February 2008 @ 8:13 pm

  11. Your death-dealing Nurse Ratched sounds great. This is the difficulty: when you finally start getting close to something interesting for a real-world intervention, you’re probably already past the client’s limit of tolerance. And so you start thinking about a fictional treatment of the euthanasia nurse, but will anybody want to pay to make or see this production? I would watch it. I could see this character as injecting life into either the educational or the artistic worlds, both of which are already anaesthetized.

    Pixar and Brad Bird are a perfect match in this regard. Bird’s Oscar acceptance speech was something like this: when I was 12 years old I told my teachers I wanted to make movies. Yes, they said condescendingly, but what else would you like to do? I want to make movies. And see, I do make movies, and now I have an Oscar. Shove that up your ass, you mediocre loser teachers. Still, once again, I liked The Incredibles — also Iron Giant, which Bird made probably before his association with Pixar.

    So in my novel The Stations one of the main characters, sort of the evil genius figure, is a Dr. Karas, who is kind of a fetishizer of the multiply gifted. He sees himself as the Identifier, and his identification criteria are statistical: he’s looking for individual outliers within outlier populations. In a sort of fugue interlude, the book jumps back in time a century to the end of imperial Russia, where Rasputin is the Identifier and he identifies as doubly gifted the son of the last Czar, possessed of both royal blood and hemophilia. Rasputin sees himself as a sort of polluter of the Outlier’s blood line, fusing corruption and holiness in a way that redeems and unites Russia in this sort of Eastern Orthodox way you’ve spoken of before. This episode lasts only about 3 pages — maybe I’ll put it up for a fugue interlude on Ktismatics.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 28 February 2008 @ 4:47 am

  12. One of the adverse consequences of my being so totally out of touch with my local environment is that the annual Boulder Film Festival came and went without my even being aware of it. However, on the Spinozan-Deleuzian plane of immanence I must be very much in touch, as evidenced by this synopsis of the winning entry.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 28 February 2008 @ 8:59 am

  13. I think it’s quite important to have something there like “Do you ever feel like your gift has brought nothing but pain and suffering to those you love most? Has this made it hard for you to risk loving another human being, particularly an ordinary one?”

    This is GREAT work.

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    Comment by Joseph Kugelmass — 1 March 2008 @ 5:48 pm

  14. Now see Kugelmass, this is the way one OUGHT to introduce oneself in a comment box: constructive suggestions along with a compliment for the host. I’ll definitely take your suggestions into consideration for F*O*O*J 1.1, if I can recover some enthusiasm for the project. Clark Kent and Spiderman among others have a hard time with the issue you address here, being reluctant to pursue intimacy with their lady friends. Doesn’t it make you wonder whether having a superpower might be an overcompensation for impotence?

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    Comment by ktismatics — 1 March 2008 @ 6:07 pm

  15. Clysmatics your compliment to dr. Kugelmassina sounds almost as an insult when you consider just what good and kind manners the Romantic doctor has due to his upmarket breeding not to mention his European curriculum vitae.

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    Comment by parodycenter — 1 March 2008 @ 9:31 pm

  16. I was acknowledging my own boorishness on the Kugelmass blog, where in my first comment I registered a disagreement without first paying my respects.

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    Comment by ktismatics — 2 March 2008 @ 1:02 am


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