Monday, January 10, 2005

I was in macroecon today, and the professor was going over trivial stuff (what is economics, &c.), and taking a long time to write each definition on the board, so I decided it would be a good time to practise using Tengwar. Normally, I write in (mostly) English, 'cause my Tengwar is so slow (and I'm slow at reading it), but I figured this stuff was slow and unimportant enough that it wouldn't matter. And I was dreadfully bored.
Later, as the professor took attendance at the end of class, the girl next to me inquired as to what language I'd been writing in. 'Tengwar. Elvish, basically'. 'What?' 'Elvish. From Tolkein. Middle-earth'. 'What's that?' 'You know: Lord of the Rings'.
She doesn't get it. Apparently, she's never even /heard/ of The Lord of the Rings.

That shocks me. Really, it does. I mean, maybe if the PJ films hadn't come out, I could understand not knowing the books (sad, I know), but these days everyone knows about LotR.

It reminded me of a discussion I once had with my astronomy professor. During environmental biology in Fall 2001, there'd been a multiple-choice question 'Which of these is not a subatomic particle? a) Proton, b) Neutron, c) Klingon, d) Electron'. It was commenting to my astronomy professor about how it was silly 'cause even if a student somehow didn't know the subatomic particles, everyone knows what a Klingon is. Dr. Bier disagreed. He said his wife probably wouldn't know had she not married him, and that most people probably don't know. I simply didn't buy his hypothesis. How could you not know what a Klingon is?

Some years later, I related this story on an online forum and asked if anyone didn't know what a Klingon was.

A good number of them didn't.

Let it be known that my guesses about what normal people know or don't know are rarely accurate. Not just regarding my silly cultish fandoms, but about science, and language, and most everything else. Homeschooling didn't make me an unsociable person, perhaps, but it did make me profoundly ignorant of what constitutes the standard intellectual corpus.

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