Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pedantic, Socially Repressed: Bookish Stereotypes

The awkward intellectual has always been a common figure in pop-culture. For a modern example we can go to a prime time sitcom, Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory. Reason and fact has often been set up as opposition to emotional and sensual life, connection to other people. In fact that's what D.H. Lawrence's scandalous Lady Chatterley's Lover is really about.
My first instinct is to combat this stereotype, but I see it in my colleagues and I definitely see it in myself. I'm intellectually extroverted, I like to talk, discuss, debate, but I don't make deep personal connections easily. I often avoid making romantic connections; I am emotionally introverted. Many intelligent women I know have similar issues to varying degrees. Sometimes I think that we should have "Anyone Can Whistle" as our theme song. I can't whistle actually. This leads to the Neil Gaiman having to write a brief guide to seducing writers.
I've been feeling very socially awkward lately. Perhaps it's because I've been wading through the swamp of my own thoughts to write this novel and that can become a self-centered process. I spout off fun facts and use archaic vocabulary and three or four syllable words in common speech. My humorous (I thought anyway) allusions to literature and film in conversation go by unnoticed.
When you spend your days forcing yourself to analyze and think about everything's significance, to think deeply about words and their implications; it can make casual interaction difficult. Especially with people from different disciplines or mind sets. Of course there's always the odd male that finds this attractive:

He is a beautiful rarity. Maybe I'm overstating this, many intellectual men and women have perfectly normal lives-- even love lives. But this stereotype is definitely out there and I can see some of the reasons behind it even in myself. What about you? Bookish ladies and gents happily social or misanthropic? Can you turn off lecture mode or do you talk about the mythological significance of the hero's journey after the movie?


  1. I adore this post because I think you are correct - I have yet to really meet a guy that gets all of my comments about literature, film, and even politics. Sometimes I think I am the only person reading a book in the world! Lecture mode is hard to break, I try to watch for the glazing of the eyes to tell when I should stop. If some guy ever wanted to make me happy, he would start taking notes :)

  2. Taking notes, how romantic <3
    I just need to find someone more socially awkward and misanthropic than me, so he won't notice.