guenievre: (lovers)
[personal profile] guenievre
It's funny how those words rhyme... funny how it feels like they're still synonyms, even after I think I don't have angst about being who I am and having the life I do anymore.

Why the angst? well, I got into another of those conversations at work - the ones that always leave me feeling like, well, a freak. See, every so often the topic of where N and I went to high school comes up. (In this case it was because someone had some lotion which smelled EXACTLY like the air freshener they used to use after dissections). Which, of course, because it's so out of the ordinary - not that many people leave home to go to boarding school at 16 - leads to questions of "how'd you get to go there? you must be really smart! what's your IQ?" etc etc. I don't think that the people who I end up having these questions with are being meanspirited about it, they're honestly curious and not really trying to be rude. And I'm not conversationally graceful enough to derail the conversation before it starts... and I'm just arrogant enough that I am not very good at downplaying the truth about my test scores and whatnot. (Not that I don't realize that the thrice-cursed scores really don't mean anything and wouldn't even really get me a cup of coffee).

In fact, I don't really recognize that the conversation has hit THAT path again until I'm back at my desk and wondering why I feel like a freak again. I used to get sucked into these conversations long before NCSSM, of course - beeing a Very Big Fish (scroll to 1997, my maiden name was Rehmann) in the Very Small Pond I grew up in will do that - if it wasn't my parents showing me off it was my teachers, and the natural reaction of my peers to that was in fact a very similar conversation - except, of course, it wasn't honest curiosity, it was venom pure and simple. (Or was it? looking back on things now I have problems even telling what was real and what was in my head in those days.) All I knew then was that I desperately didn't want to be different... but I was and there was nothing I could do about it. Geek=freak, end of story.

Now? Some days I'm good at flying my geek-pride flag high. The latest Survivor? of course I didn't watch it, I was too busy fighting/sewing/playing WarCrack. Others? well, I end up both embarrassed by my intelligence and by the fact I'm not doing anything more... significant with it.

Date: 2006-09-08 06:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Fencing/fighting makes geek pride real easy to come by.
Geek? Yeah. But if I was holding a sword, you'd be dead by now.

Date: 2006-09-08 06:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
::grin:: You have a very good point. And really, as long as I'm in my safe little SCA cocoon, geek pride is not a problem. It's just the rest of the world...

Date: 2006-09-08 06:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I hear you.

Jenny and I have had several conversations about how being smart is very inconvenient.
If you are more intelligent than your bosses, your teachers, etc. they tend to resent it, which leads to a not-so-happy environment.

Plus, being *aware* of things going on around me, is frustrating, because so few people are. I have found myself wishing I could be as oblivious as them sometimes. Ignorance is indeed bliss. How simple the world must be if you can cruise through it without a single thought.
You work, you get paid, you watch tv. Done.

Still, I like who and what I am. I feel I should do more sometimes, often the world makes you feel obligated to, but to what end? I don't want fame. The one thing everyone strives for, and sadly frequently fails at, is happiness. Happiness is a pretty good goal, and thus far, seems to be working.

So, be glad you are smart enough to know what makes you happy, and able to achieve it, without the pettiness that makes up the bulk of humanity.

Don't sweat the petty things, and don't pet the sweaty things.

Inconvenience! Nice wording...

Date: 2006-09-08 07:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
You're right on all points, really... can't add much to that. Though I'm not so sure about the not wanting fame sometimes - if you remember the Counting Crows song "Mr Jones", for many years that song kind of... defined me, in a way no other song has ever managed to. So while I'm definitely happier than many people I know, I haven't caught THAT particular brass ring. ::shrug::

The Smart and the Not so Smart

Date: 2006-09-08 06:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm no where near as smart you are, I can safely say that without a fear of being wrong. Intelligence comes in a variety of ways. There is "book smarts" and then there's "common sense". I've known lots of smart and intelligent people with lots of the book smarts type, but very little of the common sense variety.

As one of the not to smart; the only problem I have with the ultra-smart is that smug self-righteous attitude that a lot of people seem to lord over those of us who didn't make the high numbers on our SATs and what not. I once had someone who believed their intelligence superior to mine tell me that since I wasn't "all that bright" there was no way a mere secretary like me could understand what they needed to talk to my boss about and proceeded to spend another five minutes telling me how only stupid people have menial jobs and how nice it must be to go through life oblivious waiting for the channel on my soaps to change (and it went on and on) ....

What she failed to realize was that this "stupid person" controlled whether or not her message got to her surgeon and in what manner it was delivered. She also had no idea that even as a "mere secretary" I had more medical knowledge than she did and when the surgeon called her back, he told her that he wouldn't keep her as his patient until she apologized to me and then he asked me to explain her upcoming procedure to her (and I used very small words); when it comes to medical-type stuff, I'm fairly smart :-) ...

Whle I'm not Mensa material, I think that sometimes the ultra-smart tend to have a low opinion of those of us who aren't as smart as they are... now.. not all of us are dumb as a bag of rocks :-)

Now.. with all of that being said... I AM so very NOT TALKING ABOUT YOU, Guenievre. You have never been anything but funny, kind and caring. I'm just making a general commentary.

Kids can be cruel, we all know that. We can only hope adults won't be; I too have geek-freak moments when it comes to certain things. You walk away from the conversation all angsty and doubt-y and wishing you hadn't said certain things to certain people, etc. But what's done is done, you just move forward and hope.

Re: The Smart and the Not so Smart

Date: 2006-09-08 07:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm entirely convinced that everyone is smart in different ways - I'm good at test taking, I'm hopeless at budgeting and any number of other things. Suppose I fit into the "lack of common sense" variety, or at least that's what my mother always said about me. ::rolls eyes:: Though she said a LOT of things, and that's a whole 'nother issue.

I can't even imagine the nerve of that B**** who said all of those things to you, nor the sadness that must have been her life in order to have that much hatred of those she doesn't know. Then again, frankly I'm rather glad I *don't* understand people like that. On the other hand, it doesn't surprise me in some ways - I've certainly known enough Mensa-types who had that sort of attitude even amongst those who were arguably SMARTER than them. That was I suppose more pecking order than anything, but still...

Anyway, thank you for your very kind comments - it's always nice knowing other people understand your angst, even as you're thinking its silly.

Re: The Smart and the Not so Smart

Date: 2006-09-08 08:26 pm (UTC)
siderea: (Default)
From: [personal profile] siderea
Now.. with all of that being said... I AM so very NOT TALKING ABOUT YOU, Guenievre.

But... why did you bring it up?

If you were white and Guenievre had been a black person talking about dealing with racism, would you have started "...the only problem I have with black people is that..." and launched into a story about how a black person treated you like dirt once?

If you were male and Guenievre had been speaking as a woman about dealing with sexism, would you have started "...the only problem I have with women is that..." and launched into a story about how some woman done you wrong?

Being an asshole knows no race, no gender, no IQ, but of course, being in any sort of disrespected minority colors all interactions, in both directions. Of course he brought up intelligence; when assholes of color are doing their asshole dance, they play the race card and when female assholes are doing their asshole dance, they play the sex card. It's wrong for them to do, but it's also understandable, in that being in such an unprivileged group tends to make one rather paranoid and defensive.

The fact of the matter is that for high-IQ people, they can generally expect that if they talk about their experiences in their lives which have to do with being high-IQ, they can generally expect someone -- or a bunch of someones -- will step forward with stories about what horrible people high-IQ people are. That somebody will need to assert the stereotype of how cruel, rude, etc. high-IQ people are. And most especially they will do this if a high-IQ person expresses hurt or vulnerability or otherwise behaves in a way which would normally provoke sympathy.

Yes, you say the words about how you're not talking about Guenievre and that you're "just making a general commentary." But what you wrote showed not merely a lack of sympathy, but a refusal to show sympathy. Your entire story is a justification of why high-IQ people don't deserve sympathy. You responded to Guenievre's hurt with a story of why you don't like people like Guenievre, which seems awfully thoughtless at least, regardless of your statements analogous to "But I think of you as white" and "But you're not like other women."

I don't think you meant harm to Guenievre, but I would sure hope that if you really did feel that she has "never been anything but funny, kind and caring", you would be as willing to generalize that to all high-IQ people, of which she is just as valid an example, as you were to generalize the ill treatment in your story to all high-IQ people. Personally, I'm not inclined to generalize either behavior, but I hope that whatever extent of generalization you pick, it's a fair one.

Re: The Smart and the Not so Smart

Date: 2006-09-08 08:53 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
To be fair to Rhiannon, she didn't actually say that the person she had interaction with was *actually* a high-IQ person, merely that she THOUGHT she was... and those two data points don't always correlate...

Your point is definitely valid, in many ways, though I do understand why that reaction would be triggered. I disagree with you that it's quite the same thing as racism or sexism or what-not.
The difference is that being a high-IQ person is a little like being on that same percentile of beauty, or athletic talent, or musical talent, or whatever. Yes, there are downsides. But to someone who is not blessed/cursed with whatever gift (IQ, beauty, atleticism... even being born wealthy), complaining about the downside seems rather... ungrateful, and arrogant. Hell, even reading my own post I wonder whether I should have posted it for much those same reasons.

Re: The Smart and the Not so Smart

Date: 2006-09-08 09:12 pm (UTC)
siderea: (Default)
From: [personal profile] siderea
Actually, it's exactly the same as racism or sexism. Particularly sexism. Once upon a time we were called the "fairer sex" and a lot of our disenfrancisement was justified by the argument that we were better, more precious, etc. than men(!). The old term was "putting women on a pedestal", and the idea was that because we were oh, so, lucky to have been women -- and therefore "naturally" exempt from having to go out into the cruel, cruel world where men had to work and fight and make their way -- we had to be protected from self-determination.

Women used to be made to feel ungrateful and arrogant for challenging that, too.

Hell, I seem to recall that if you go back far enough, you can find depictions of slave owners (usually Northerners) trying the same racket on their slaves: "Don't we treat you wonderfully? You're like a member of our family! Why are you so ungrateful for all we've done for you, that you want to buy your freedom?" (This is actually depicted in Azimov's classic "The Bicentennial Man".)

The fact is that high-IQ an inborn trait which does not make us better or worse than other people, but by which we're morally judged and found wanting, from no action on our own parts. It's part of our reality, it shapes our experience (often profoundly) from early life, and our culture says to talk about it in any realistic way means we're bad people.

That's a racket. It's oppressive, repressive and toxic. It means that high-IQ people often grow up with their souls in knots because they can't calibrate their experiences against others'; too many literally grow up thinking they must be crazy, sick, defective, a bad seed, etc.

They look, in other words, a lot like gay people from the 1950s.

Re: The Smart and the Not so Smart

Date: 2006-09-09 12:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I'm not sure it matters in the long run, given that yes, the effects are the same. I know I certainly probably would have wound up MUCH worse off if it wasn't for TIP and/or NCSSM - which of course were very protected environments of people Much Like Me. And even now, as I mentioned, I mostly surround myself with various "geek friendly" populations - because let's face it, I don't pass well. Unlike my husband, whose IQ is +/- 10 points as high as mine, but avoided most of the problems that that generally causes because he could pass well. ::shrug::

All that aside, while being high in IQ doesn't make us or better or worse than anyone else, it does come with tangible benefits - the potential for higher earnings being among the most societally valuable. Being female or being a minority don't carry those benefits.

I'm not sure you can just write that off as not being part of the issue - the perceptual correlation between smart and arrogant seems to be more analagous to a pretty woman being assumed promiscuous than to racism or sexism (Yes, I realize the pretty woman being assumed promiscuous is in itself a form of sexism, but that aside...)

Date: 2006-09-09 01:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Maybe having smarts is kind of like having a certain size hand. Sure, you are different that the person next to you, but unless you find a way to apply it properly, what good is it to you? That is how I feel sometimes, being a reasonably intelligent person with a distinct lack of knowing-what-I-want-to-do-and-doing-itness.

Side note: I didn't make the cut when I tried out for the show in college. Neither did my prof who took the test, so I didn't feel too bad. Sadly, the teen version didn't start until I was 15 or 16, and I had never heard of the show back then. :P

Date: 2006-09-11 02:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Is there a place you can just buy knowing-what-I-want-to-do-and-doing-itness? 'Cause really, I've never had it either. Sometimes I wonder... if you don't mind me asking, did you have exceptionally strict parents? As I did, and I sometimes wonder whether that led to just never learning how to make my own decisions, because they were all made for me... ::shrug:: idle musing, though.

And as for Jeopardy? Here's the thing - the tryouts were in Chapel Hill, the day before NCSSM move-in day (worked out well). So, there were a LOT of people from my high school there to try out, many of which I later either became friends with or at least did Quiz Bowl with. Frankly, there were people there who were certainly smarter than me, and/or better at trivia. However... I was at least somewhat more photogenic, which is why I ended up on the show. ::shrug:: And, well, when we're in the same place sometime, ask me how I did - it's funnier in person.

Date: 2006-09-11 10:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
My parents were not strict enough, actually. I was, I feel now, given too much leeway and had too little parental interest/interaction with my education. My mom did what she could, but she was by that point a single mom trying to raise 2 kids and getting less than enough support (financial or otherwise) from my dad.


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