Editor’s Note: This post was written by Steve Altes, who is currently running a Kickstarter campaign for his graphic novel.
I love geeks! So much that I’ve always wanted to set the record straight about them. Real-life geeks are way more interesting to me than their fictional portrayals in movies and pop culture. The cinematic geek will hotwire a cell phone to hack into NORAD’s computers and deorbit a satellite. I’ve never met anyone who could do that.
However I have known a pissed off engineering student to take a dead rat he found in the alley behind our fraternity, dip it in liquid nitrogen until it was frozen and brittle, march into my room, and wallop it with a baseball bat, shattering it like a frozen Charleston Chew from hell and creating a noxious spray of decomposing rat particles, thus giving me the mother of all clean-up jobs.
That’ll teach me to oversleep on the morning I was supposed to help clean the fraternity.
Besides their creative approach to pranks, I love how geeks just don’t give a damn what anyone thinks of their clothes or hobbies. This was made very clear to me as a college student at MIT, which is, of course, Geek Central. MIT attracts a lot of eccentric, talented, and very non-conformist people – people that fall on the pointy end of the bell-shaped curve. As a result, strange things happen there all the time. You can be walking across campus and suddenly be passed by a student who is simultaneously riding a unicycle, juggling three tennis balls, yodeling and wearing a Superman cape and a jester’s cap. MIT people are random with a capital R. I loved that about the place. I wish there was more of that spontaneity in the regular world.
Author John Green has a wonderful quote which highlights the third thing I love about geeks: their excitement, their zeal. Green writes, “…nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff… Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. Hank, when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’.”
Yes! I’ll take sloppy, blubbery passion over detached, unimpressed “coolness” any day.
The fourth thing that I love about geeks is their relentless problem-solving nature. Geeks are hardwired to see multiple avenues to solving a problem and if the first ten approaches don’t work, no biggie, here’s another twenty things to try. Truly all progress in the world depends on geeks.
This affection I have for geekkind is having a very public debut on the Interwebz currently. I’ve written a graphic novel about my geeky adventures at MIT. Geeks and Greeks is inspired by actual events and centers around the high-tech pranks that MIT students are world famous for.
One question I get asked a lot is “Is anybody other than MIT students going to be interested in this story?” To me that’s like saying “will anyone other than Vermont prep school students want to watch Dead Poets Society?”
I wrote Geeks and Greeks to have broad appeal and share my love of geeks. The trick was making jokes out of things like Schubert’s last symphony, Archimedes Principle, supernovas, cryogenics, kinematic viscosity, Shakespearean characters, and Einstein’s theory of relativity and still keeping things fully accessible to general public. Bottom line: You don’t need to be a genius to understand Geeks and Greeks, but you’ll feel like a genius after you read it!
Here’s a video to give you a peek.
View the Kickstarter campaign here, or help out using the widget below.
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