Re: On nerds and dreamers
|From:||Sally Caves <scaves@...>|
|Date:||Thursday, March 3, 2005, 1:15|
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jörg Rhiemeier" <joerg_rhiemeier@...>
> The survey question whether one considers conlanging a "nerdy" activity
> caused me to think about nerds and dreamers.
> A "nerd", as I understand the word, is someone who is single-mindedly
> pursuing one special field. This type is especially common in the
> computer trade, and I learned to know many nerds when I was studying
> computer science in university. These people do almost nothing
> without computers. Their hobbies are computer programming, computer
> games, computer this and computer that. At most, they play chess,
> or role-playing games, but the latter without actually role-playing,
> reducing the game to dice-rolling and rules-lawyering. Some nerds
> conlang, but their conlangs are mostly loglangs, engelangs or other
> non-naturalist projects, often inspired by computer programming
> languages more than by human languages. And there is almost never
> a conculture attached.
> Another personality type who is frequently mistaken for a nerd is
> the "dreamer". Unlike the nerd, who isn't really all that imaginative,
> the dreamer is a very imaginative person. Dreamers like to play
> with imaginary worlds of some kind. Some have discovered computers
> as tools for their imagination, but that is far not necessary.
> Dreamers often play role-playing games, but unlike nerds, they
> actually role-play. Many dreamers are conlangers, and their conlangs
> are often naturalist and usually quite fanciful and accompanied
> by elaborate conculture. A nerd could never build something like
> Quenya or Tsolyani; it takes a dreamer to do that.
> What do you think?
I think you raise some *fascinating* questions here with a fair attempt to
define these two terms, and I was interested to read the other comments
First of all, let me thank you ALL for your long, enthusiastic responses to
my survey! I really appreciate it, and I'm busy going through your remarks.
I hope to share some of the "statistics." :)
I posed the "nerd" question on the survey hoping it would get some kind of
reaction and it did--many of you said "what's wrong with being a nerd?" or,
"I guess so, but I don't care"; I myself have no sense of what this term
really means--or even what the common cliche "get a life" means
anymore--I've discovered that for a lot of people it seems to mean a
'lovelife.' :) ...for others, it means getting a profession, or getting
married. :) It's another ambiguous phrase defined by the people who use
I was hoping that we'd come around to some kind of definition of "nerd," so
thanks for your post, Joerg. It seems to have a generally negative
connotation when used by people who think themselves non-nerds. It might
have something to do with people who pursue the life of the mind over
pursuits considered more socially and visibly prestigious: sports, social
skills, dress that suits the "occasion," the right kind of argot, and so
forth. Many people who DO have those "attributes," but who engage in
glossopoeia and mythopoeia or who role-play or whatever, sometimes wish to
keep their "life of the mind" private from the other crowd they run with,
and that includes one's professional colleagues, the people next door, the
guys or gals in your dorm...
I for one find these people to be amazingly eclectic, and many of them
possessed of an intellectual sophistication and versatility--in other words
all of you--that makes them more interesting to me than the average Joe who
is dressed in the latest jeans, wearing the latest footwear, making the most
money, driving the neatest sportscar, or even writing the most cutting edge
form of academic criticism, but who is bereft of any real imagination.
Another quagmire: what do we mean by "sophistication"? I qualified it above
with "intellectual," because the word has been coopted by the status
seekers. Originally, however, it was quite negative as a term. It meant
"tired out," one who had "ennui," wilted with over-knowledge of the world
and its cynicism; and someone who had replaced naturalness with artifice.
As for "dreamer," that term is likewise ambiguous, with negative
connotations in some sectors, and positive ones in others. Yaguello uses it
quite negatively in Les Fous du langage... so one again must ask if it is
applied to people by other people who don't consider themselves to be
dreamers, and who equate the word with "inutility." But those who do
consider themselves dreamers can see the productivity of other dreamers.
Was Edison a dreamer in his youth? It is, after all, dreams that can
inspire invention, art, or change. It is an especially intriguing idea when
applied to conlanging, and that's why I was interested in seeing responses
to the hobby/art question. Are these distinguishable? Do we paint to paint
or do we paint to sell? In the past, I've had comparisons between
conlanging and poetry writing.
Interestingly, only a few of you bit the bait about sensuality and even
sexiness of conlanging. Kou wrote years ago that it was like living in
one's own baroque DREAM. That's why I posed it again. About the sexiness of
conlanging... ;) what is "sexy"? It doesn't have to mean exciting sexual
Meanwhile, back to nerd and geek. What do others think is a distinction
between these two? "Geek" does seem to have gravitated more to the
technical side than "nerd" does.
Again, yry poy nwetis firrimby (I'm very grateful)
Euil Yrlo toil epa hsinva mareadaf!
(Praise God for the left eye!)