13 Dec 2016


Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson

It has come to my attention that there is such a thing—and I will retroactively apply this to several persons I have come across—as an English geek.

Unlike my experience at university where I encountered math geeks and computer geeks and also engineers (geekness included by definition), nobody in the entire Arts faculty lacked social skills or failed to wear make up, or got really... I don't know... excited about books.

But I wasn't paying attention. It is through authors like Pynchon that I realize that there were undergraduates sitting in those English lectures ... geeking out. Checking dictionnaires. Writing dictionaries. Intertextualizing. Geeking out on how stories work. How... I don't know... the alazon turns out to be the hero in Pride and Prejudice (I'm just making that up). How language changes. How Spenser sounds medieval and funny because he was making fun of funny-sounding medieval writers. Learning to speak Middle-English.

I'm stupid. Now that I think of it, I met them. I guess the English-geekness was just so overshadowed by the profundity of math-geekness that it was difficult for those poor English geeks to sprout. There were obviously linguistics geeks. And secular exegetical geeks. But there were really literary-structure geeks. It's through reading Pynchon that I realized there must be a whole world of people out there looking for this kind of writing that just thrashes around all these theories and models of English literature. And that's why I like reading Pynchon.

But... the awesome thing that I've just realized with Stephenson is that you can be an English geek and a math geek at the same time.