Saturday, February 12, 2005

Music Others Cannot Hear: On Geeks

Am reading Lucky Wander Boy by D.B. Weiss, an entertaining and erudite book which "does for video games what High Fidelity did for pop music", according to one reviewer. Last year, I spoke to an auditorium of St. Scholastica college students about writing. I had a great time, and regaled them with anecdotes and advice about the so-called writing scene and the importance or lack thereof of awards and mentors. One of them had a concern about image, about being regarded as "a geek". I told her: that's a compliment. To be a geek means you have mastered something, that you have dedicated your time and your efforts to knowing something inside out, whether it's something as useful as Linux programming or as useless as Silver Age comics trivia. Getting back to Lucky Wander Boy, in one chapter Weiss has a great definition of the word geek: "A geek is a person, male or female, with an abiding, obsessive, self-effacing, even self-destroying love for something besides status."

I'll quote the entire closing paragraph of that particular chapter on geekhood, because... well, because I want to.

They may be oppressed by the figures of beauty, and they may be ugly -- but they have the music. While the hedonistic treadmill carries the others through cycles of momentary appeasement and slow, scraping dissatisfaction, the geeks will penetrate deeper and deeper into the music the others cannot hear, its notes independent of the demands of the world that pull people through jobs and parties and bars toward their end. They will hear its forgotten strains and study its evolution in all its branching intricacy, and in the unlikely event of an afterlife they will have their music to carry them, they will never grow tired of it, they will still be going and going and going long after the others have overdosed on the maximum conceivable pleasure and chosen self-extinguishing over the ultimate boredom hangover that follows. Their passion is like a red dwarf star -- it may not burn as hot, but it burns longer. It burns near forever.

Thanks to Robyn for the T-shirt link! :)

1 comment:

sundial girl said...

re: il mare - i know what you mean. first "ringu" and then "my sassy girl" and now this! why can't they just leave these films alone? or teach americans to read subtitles...

re: geekdom - thank you! the world needed to hear that. ^_^