August 07, 2003

A Geek Tragedy

Posted by shonk at 11:11 PM in Geek Talk | TrackBack

It has all the elements of a classic tragedy: well-meaning hero, tries to do good but ultimately destroyed by his own fatal weakness. In this case, we're talking about the finger callouses sustained by my girlfriend from spending too much time typing on her laptop. Which is melodramatic in and of itself, because fingertip callouses are like carpal tunnel lite. They're the Michelob Ultra of repetitive stress disorders. And yes, I'm jealous because the only callouses I have are from spending 23 hours a day horizontal (but usually clothed, sadly).

That last, by the way, is called self-depracation, and some people are against getting cheap laughs from it. Since pretty much my entire comedic repertoire is comprised of self-depracating jokes, you can understand why. Of course, I prefer to think of myself as fulfilling this bit:

The poetics of personal failure have failed. We msut [sic] make them work again.

Of course, I'd imagine it would be pretty hard for "we" to make personal failure work. I mean, wouldn't personal failure be an individual, not a collective, thing? That, and personal failure already reached its apex with Fitzgerald. And pedophiles.

But then there's the other side of the story. Like, for example, "In Praise of Self-Deprecation":

The buzzard has nothing to fault himself with.

Scruples are alien to the black panther.

Piranhas do not doubt the rightness of their actions.

The rattlesnake approves of himself without reservations.

The self-critical jackal does not exist.

The locust, alligator, trichina, horsefly

live as they live and are glad of it.

The killer-whale's heart weighs one hundred kilos

but in other respects is light.

There is nothing more animal-like

than a clear conscience

on the third planet of the Sun.

And that's a good point, too. If you can't make fun of them, have you really come to understand your flaws? I say no. And if you don't understand your flaws, then you're cruising for a geek tragedy of your own, buster.

Plus, self-depracation can be pretty damn funny. Like Clarence Thomas, a Yale Law School grad, having a sign on his bookshelf saying: "Save America: Bomb Yale Law School" (from here). Of course, the tragedy of taking yourself way too goddamn seriously can be funny, too. Just see the Michael Teachings.

Why, you may be asking, did I google "self deprecation" and then write a post stringing together the funniest sites that came up? Because I'm pathetic and have nothing better to do than google for random phrases. Well, that's not really true (stop that snickering, you). Mainly it's because I'm dreading going to bed. You see, I'm getting up at 5:30 tomorrow morning to start the 1700 mile drive from Boulder to Philadelphia and, since I went to bed around 4:00 last night, I know I won't be able to sleep until well after midnight. So why lay in bed tossing and turning and unable to sleep when I could be filling my brain with useless information and then passing it on to unsuspecting (and largely fictional) readers? And I'm just tired enough to not recognize my incipient incoherence. Which is pretty much mandatory for blogs, isn't it?

And yes, the above means this may be the last update for a few days, or at least until I find an internet hookup somewhere on the road in middle America. Which is likely; I'm sort of like a heroin junky who always manages to get another fix. And the detox is killer.