nerdology pt. 1

ive been trying to write this thing for days and its just not coming out the way i wanted it so im just going to pull a kerouac and write out the idea as it comes to me. im even listening to bebop in an attempt to capture the whole aesthetic, dont judge me. its been brought to my attention by those in the know that this is how all the cool kids write their blogs. the all at once part, not the reference to the beats part.

basically the idea is that ive been trying to make some all encompassing connection between how its become a lot more socially acceptable to look like, have all the earmarks of, and generally embrace the whole vibe of what used to be the defintion of uncool: the nerd. it used be basically social leprosy to admit beyond a very small circle of close friends that you even had the slightest interest in star trek or comic books. I remember being sixteen years old and walking in on my friend watching star trek, it was like i had caught him masturbating. thats exactly what having nerdish interests felt like, it was something we all did but never talked about openly.

in recent years this seems to have all changed. thick rimmed glasses are in style, big bang theory is a top rated sitcom (not that I hold network sitcoms to be any real barometer of the current zeitgeist), grown adults obsessed with books and movies about a school for wizards. it just seems far more cool these days to be a nerd. how did this happen? my theory is that it is all based on the interwebs, especially social networking.
when ever you think of nerds, certain iconic images spring to mind. generally of a male in his teens rather underwhelmed by puberty. his pants are pulled too high, either because they themselves are too short, or because the suspenders are too tight. his bowtie is crooked, his breast pocket protected. you imagine his social life as being anything but. weekends spent with others of his ilk splitting their time between completing the homework of their more athletically inclined classmates and debating the more likely form of interstellar travel: warpdrive or wormholes. basically he is the dud from mystery date.

the nerd is perhaps best defined as a set of oppositions. he possesses the tragic combination of being mentally superior yet physically inferior, resulting in social ineptitude or at least passivity. you see, the natural environment of the nerd, or at least the gauntlet from which he is spewed, is the social arena of high school. this predator rich environment could be argued to the prototype for every other social milieu we encounter later in life. this social hierarchy of high school is one ranked primarily in terms of physical prowess; athleticism in boys, beauty in girls. not only does the nerd find himself dejected to the lowest caste of this society but also rejects a meritocracy that refuses to acknowledge his own currency, brains. the quarterback gets the beauty queen while the nerd laments “if she could only see the real me.”

rejected by a world that prizes brawn over brains the nerd retreats into realm where his attributes are real strengths: the imaginary. he knows he will never score the winning touchdown in the big game, so he settles for slaying a few orcs and levelling up on his experience points. that was a roleplaying reference. both of these are games with firm rules. the difference being that one is chiefly physical in nature, the other imaginary. that is another interesting element of the whole nerd culture, the fixation on rules. in an argument about who would win in a fight between superman and the hulk, two comic book heroes with equally improbably origins, one from a long exploded planet and the other who gained his powers from a nuclear blast, there still exists a threshold where, if past, one poindexter would actually say to the other “well, now thats just ridiculous”. as if any element of the situation was grounded in a positivist reality. the very appeal of these imaginary realms is that they have, no matter how different from our physical reality, a certain logic by which they operate.

this is also I believe why the nerd also is so fascinated by electronics and computers. they’re how the nerds exact their revenge on the physical world. not only do these machines operate by a set of logic and rules understood exclusively, at least initially, by nerds but they also now serve as portals in to the ultimate imaginary world ever imagined by imaginations: the internet.


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