Geeks know science and have a compulsion to talk excessively about topics the real world doesn’t really care about. But what if this narrow categorization isn’t true and Stephen Segal’s Geek Wisdom: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture can save humanity from destroying itself?
Talking about my g-g-generation and religion
As much bravado and cheekiness is indicated in the title of the book (or the prelude to this review, for that matter), it’s so much more than just a catalogue of dos-and-don’ts. In his introduction, Segal already writes that for him science(-fiction) was his religion, and that he lived by it like so many other people who society played down as geeks obsessed with certain topics. So it’s only fitting that the list of quotes include various movie, games, and book references. But the great thing about these is that they’re not simply a collection of obscure Star Trek trivia or other related stuff, but that they cover a wide range of literary figures and mainstream cinema as well, often making very interesting connections. In addition to the interpretations and quotes, one finds interesting trivia, regarding authors, actors, games, movies, etc., although these can be seen as a bonus and are more fun than profound. The same holds true for the illustrations which are randomly included and aren’t anything to write home about.
Essays say a lot about people and the world they live in
Divided into six rather long chapters, the 216 pages don’t look very organized at first. The absence of a table of contents is disappointing, although an index can help to find certain movie, book, game titles and characters or actors/actresses. But this also emphasizes the experimental nature of the work. It reads more like a collection of short essays with one or two quotes and an explanation on each page. Or rather not an explanation, but a train of thought the reader can follow or make up his or her own mind about the ideas presented by the authors. The different interpretations might come from contributors Zaki Hasan, N. K. Jemisin, Eric San Juan, and Genevieve Valentine who have different backgrounds (university, comics, psychology, etc.). But the style is seldom incongruent, always leaving room to one’s own thoughts and ideas.
Building a better world and understanding
Some parts (especially the last chapters) can get a bit too philosophical and science-oriented, but overall, the tone of voice is a nice mix of the serious and comic, highlighting the fact that quotes taken out from movies few people would consider to be saying much about the human condition or social interaction show a deeper understanding for certain situations and human behavior. Even if the title uses words like “wisdom” and “teachings”, the authors ask the reader to think about his behavior and how his surroundings (be it in close vicinity or the whole world) react to his actions, rather than force a certain perspective on them. If only more people would be willing to think about their lives in the same way and disregard their anxieties, prejudices, inclination to violence and egoism, then the world would definitely be a better place.
Love this book and don’t hate people
Geek Wisdom: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture is one of those few books which succeed in social commentary while being entertaining to read. Striving for a better understanding of each other and living with each other is what will hopefully be the feelings evoked in those readers who put down the book after the first time. This is a book that fully deserves the attention many soul-searching titles promise but seldom fulfil. Therefore, a perfect ten will fit just nicely for the score here.
It is also interesting to note that the book never tries to make geek culture the ultimate answer to everything, often questioning the exclusivity of subcultures. Even if occasionally it falls back on the “geeks are misunderstood and treated badly” image, the authors usually try to remain objective and open to different points of views, or rather the individuality of every human being.
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