Monday, July 30, 2007

Shall this Monday Be Productive? I Say Yes!

On the agenda for today is...
  • reading 100 pgs. in one book and 100 pgs in another. (Theoretically this should take five hours if grad school calculations about reading speed still hold true.)
  • I also plan to go to the gym, which I'm SURE will make me feel more like a human being than I've been feeling.
  • Go in to school to pick up part of the book manuscript, to get some ILL stuff that's arrived, and maybe to pick up some other stuff at the library.
  • Finally finish the order that I've been fiddling around with at Amazon.
  • Perhaps do some more things related to assignments and syllabi for the fall.
I have decided that I have until 10:30 AM to piddle around and to drink coffee and wake up, and then I shall begin with the above items in earnest. The plan at the moment is to work for a couple of hours, have some lunch, work a bit more, go to the gym around 2PM, and then to return to work some more after that. I believe that it shall be grand.

In other news, I want to encourage people to check out this post over at Dean Dad's about nerds. While I agree with his claim that "acting black" is a symptom rather than a defining feature of non-nerd culture at this particular time, I found myself bristling at his description of nerdiness just as I bristled at his comments during the whole "nice guy" debate, lo, a couple of years ago. Now, I should admit here that I never considered myself a nerd, but what he describes as his nerdy pastimes aren't unlike what I did for fun in high school. Monty Python? check. (And don't forget Dr. Who and the Young Ones.) Music that was decidedly not high-school cool? check. Being outside the keg-party-having inner circle of jocks and people who lived on the right side of the tracks (for yes, there were actual railroad tracks in my town dividing one social class from another)? Yep, that was me.

BUT. The other people who fell into that grouping all did the same stuff I did, and we all thought what we did was cool. So we were in choir, we did theater, and we were in geeky foreign language clubs and on the high school newspaper. We weren't pariahs or anything, at least not that I recall. But maybe I just didn't realize I was a pariah? But the stuff that makes me bristle in Dean Dad's post are comments like the one about high functioning nerds treating their wives better (not having been a wife I suppose I don't know, but I've dated some former nerds, and let me tell you, they can treat you like shit just as easily as any other variety of dude can), and not all guys who were cool also now fill the role of babydaddy (as many of the cool are commitmentphobes who have retained their coolness lo these many years by not getting saddled with kids). Dean Dad's overall theory of nerdiness seems like a good one, but the assumptions that appear to underlie it, that guys who were nerds are somehow superior in later adulthood to other guys, well, that seems like a bunch of crap to me. I didn't post this over in his comments because I don't really address what Dean Dad asks readers to comment on, and I may be "off point" once again in my response and I don't want to be a hijacker. But what do you guys think? Am I way off base in my response? Can I just not know because I didn't perceive of myself as a nerd during those formative adolescent years?

Hmmm.... what else? Only a half-hour until my work day must start, so I suppose I shall close for now. More later, I'm sure, as with productivity comes blog-posting!


jb said...

Hi Dr. C,

I read Dean Dad's post and I'm in general agreement with you, I think. I felt a little uncomfortable with his assessment of nerdiness--not least because "female nerds" are, as one commenter noted, set aside as a different category of people in his post. But I also agree with you that nerds are just as capable of being assholes as "cool" guys (and some "cool" guys are pretty nice). In fact--and maybe he means to exclude this from the "high-functioning nerd" category, but I don't know--some nerdy types give off a strong sense of superiority/ego, probably as a defense mechanism (the same defense mechanism, undoubtedly, as that which makes some "cool" people into jerks who stigmatize "nerds"). Anyway, although I found some of what he said interesting and partly right, I was a little put off by what could be called a "Hooray Nerdy Men, Women Should Date Us" undertone to the post (to put it rather unfairly).

And where do the hipsters fall into this schema, anyway? Cool, nerds, or some disturbing mix? Perhaps the categories aren't as timeless as we think.

life_of_a_fool said...

I agree with you as well. I more or less agreed with DD, or didn't object for the first half or so (though you raise good points here -- I was similar to how you describe yourself; on the one hand I would consider myself a nerd, on the other, I also wasn't a social pariah. It may not be that the categories aren't *not* timeless, but that there are more than two categories).

I also bristled at the "date the high functioning nerds." I think once you start proclaiming yourself a "nice guy" there is a certain amount of ego involved (versus just *being* a nice guy) and there isn't a direct transformation from nerd into good romantic partner, just as there isn't from non-nerd to asshole or babydaddy. There's also something inherently creepy about the idea of someone being so grateful that you love him that he'll treat you well - not exactly what he said, but that's sort of the implication I get.

Marcelle Proust said...

um . . . on the date-a-high-functioning-nerd thing . . . he was quoting his wife, not just tooting his own horn. And I think he's right that the kind of guys he's talking about don't toot their own horns or feel entitled. If they do, they move into the creepy category.

MaggieMay said...

Yeah, I was a bit put off by that post too (as I was with the "nice guys" discussion). And this comes from someone who is married to a nice guy (who would probably describe himself as a late-blooming nerd)!

Like you, I wasn't uber-cool in high school, but I wasn't a nerd, either. And there were guys in all social strata who were dicks to me or my friends, both in high school an beyond.

I dunno. There's something kind of smug and self-satisfied about it that makes me cringe a bit, if not in the post itself then in some of the comments.

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Argggh! Blogger ate my comment!

Quick recap: Yes, I agree, partly because I think his definition of nerd as having no sense of entitlement is kind of a self-serving definition and not at all accurate. I do kind of think that saying "we nerds are better than other kinds of guys!" is pretty much the same as saying "why don't women ever date nice guys?" (the answer to which is: maybe you don't seem so nice to the women in question!).

Also, was it just me, or was his use of the term babydaddy a little disturbing? (I may just be out of this "let's be black to be hip" culture, living as I do where the defacto uniform for my male students is khaki shorts and oxford cloth shirts.)

jen said...

I personally find it hard to trust that a guy who calls his wife "The Wife" (as in the table, the chair)is really such a great guy, but that's always been a pet peeve of mine and I'm sure I'm overreacting.

I don't know if you saw that you were linked at BlogHer but I think this is an interesting discussion.

The last refuge for nerds is the fantasy that they grow up to become successful and outshine their cooler classmates. That may be true in some cases, but some also live in their parents' basements or grow up to be the Unabomber.