According to the Oxford English Dictionary, enthusiasts are people who have a passion, dedication, keeness or zeal for a particular activity or cause. The ‘enthusiasm’ explored in my research so far has been a personal passion for technology and forms part of a longer tradition of historical preservation in the UK.

In their own words

One meaning of enthusiasm is as a form of possession, madness. Obsession perhaps rather than possession, which I think is entirely true. It is a pejorative term probably. The railway enthusiast. But an awful lot of energy goes into what they do and achieve. Enthusiasm to my mind is an essential ingredient. If you are not a person who can muster enthusiasm, it is very difficult, I think, to get anything out of it. On the basis of the more you put in the more you get out of it. In terms of what happened with industrial archaeology in this country, I think, enthusiasm is a very important aspect of it. The movement needs people who can transmit that enthusiasm.

(Extract from interview with GLIAS member)

I am an enthusiast, aren’t I, on this. But I mean there are enthusiasts who stand on the end of railway platforms collecting railway train numbers. Now are they enthusiasts in the same class? They are enthusiastic about that. There are enthusiasts who spend every Saturday and Sunday on the river bank fishing. In a way, I would boldly say, there is a bit of a difference that there is something passive about collecting train numbers and fishing. Whereas this kind of enthusiasm leads to something positive. It’s creative in a way. I would certainly label myself as someone who creates. I mean that is what engineers do, they create things.

(Extract from interview with CCS member)

Sean: An enthusiast is someone who allows what they are interested in to take over their lives.

Sean’s Girlfriend: It takes a big part of their time.

Mick: It is a difficult one because I know enthusiasts who are completely OTT. There is nothing else in the world and that is it. And they are boring and I would classify them as anoraks.

Sean: Stop looking at me when he says that.

Sean’s Girlfriend: I wasn’t.

Mick: There are other people in the world who have got the view that ‘Yes, it is worthwhile preserving. Yes, ought to teach somebody else about it so it doesn’t go away’. But don’t make a big fuss about it. They just get on with it and they do it. Those sort of people I can associate with.

(Extract from interview with THG members)

Enthusiasm is an interest in a subject which goes beyond the average necessary for existence. Homing in on a particular topic, which provides pleasure of a certain sort. An occupation of kind outside of necessary time spent staying alive. Something which is associated , in this context, with spare time. The tern enthusiasm you are using here is a special use of the word to describe a kind of activity, which people indulge in, which provides pleasure.

(Extract from interview with Science Museum curator)

2 thoughts on “Enthusiasm

  1. Enthusiasm is an essential ingredient in my search for a means of bringing together academics (academia) and amateurs (voluntary sector) in wildlife conservation and environmental concerns such as climate change. I’ve always strived to bring people with common interests and ideals together whilst engaging in participatory activities. My present project will require a cross disciplinary approach and the main problem I foresee is loss of understanding due to lack of a common language. This communications problem is linked to a distrust and even antagonism of the unknown and the incomprehensible, and can thus dent enthusiasm. Whilst enthusiasm comes in an endless spectrum, there is a danger of over enthusiasm leading to failure and loss of enthusiasm. The key is self motivation, especially when things go wrong. I’m not entirely sure where this is leading… However, I am sure that blind enthusiasm can be both positive and negative, and, as I always try to turn negatives into positives, the contemplation of enthusiasm and proactive encouragement of enthusiasm in others can be an exhausting activity and one that is open to mistrust as social engineering. I once looked into NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) and realised the harm that this can do in achieving ones objectives over others. Enthusiasm can be harmful, even if channelled to a good cause. So the enthusiasm of an individual or group has to be under constant internal scrutiny, otherwise things can go very wrong. Nevertheless, I’ll go on trying to bring people together where common purpose can benefit people, the environment and wildlife.

  2. Pingback: What’s it about? My Geographies of Enthusiasm 3rd year undergraduate module so far… | The Culture of Enthusiasm

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