NERD PRIDE

All my life I’ve suffered the accusation of being a nerd, first in childhood as an aircraft spotter, then as a record collector (especially regarding comparisons between different performances) , then as a collector (and reader) of poetry books and other literature and now because of my abiding love for John Ruskin. My wife Georgie and my daughters are honourable exceptions but others see my all-consuming passion as freakish, even though I feel it as deeply nourishing. How do others feel?

25 thoughts on “NERD PRIDE

  1. Nothing more important than opening your mind and eyes and ears to new artistic discoveries, be they music, literature, art. I too love collecting; to own the physical copy (especially beautifully published books or antique copies) feels very precious. Even if there were never time left in one’s life to read it all, or listen to it all, one has the possibility.

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  2. allanevans565053587

    As our society targets individuals to be approved as good citizens by shopping non-stop, those like you and many of us follow our inner paths and accumulate knowledge and seek truths. It may give us a different demeanor but it leads to what stores fail to supply (other than books and recordings) and individuality. Nerd is meant to diminish an inadequate consumer of product. In the end we prevail: like chaos theory, the odd exception in a pattern ends up controlling the whole’s destiny!

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    1. Well I hope that ‘prevailing’ will lead others to follow in our path because we know what riches have been bestowed upon us, that ‘natural enthusiasm’ that Tot refers to … a sort of eternal youthfulness, if that doesn’t seem too fanciful a term. Loe to you and the family Allan.

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  3. Martin Ward

    Long live the nerd!
    What on Earth can be wrong with immersing oneself in something and becoming an expert? Not only is it good for you, it’s good for those of us who ‘know’ you and can benefit from your expertise. (I’m listening to you on Essential Classics as I write.)
    Nothing against aircraft spotting, but I’m so glad you moved on Rob!

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    1. HaHa! I still gaze towards the heavens whenever I hear a plane pass overhead! But burning enthusiasms truly keep me alive … provided I’m fairly rigorous in the way I pursue them. Great that you listen to EC – and I’m so very glad that you benefit from the experience.
      Best
      Rob

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  4. trevorharley

    What’s wrong with being a nerd? It’s often used as an insult by people who don’t themselves lead very interesting lives.

    It’s usually not the interests themselves that are mocked, but the degree of interest in them. In my case that’s music (listening – I have 250 days plus worth of music in my collection for when Radio 3 and 6 have nothing on – e.g. when there’s an excess of Schoenberg, labelled and cross-referenced for finding the perfect piece for the moment; and playing – not very well), the weather (I have my own station), watching movies, reading, and other interests that come and go (e.g. birdwatching, astronomy, and currently synthesiser design and learning Latin). When I get interested in something I become obsessed, and it’s obsession that scares other people.

    But if you’re going to get something out of anything you have to put effort and time into it. I find people without passions of any sort dull, and if you’re going to have an interest in anything, what’s the point of doing it if you don’t put your heart and soul into it?

    (My understanding is that obsessive pursuits tends to be more common in males, and is associated with ASD – autistic spectrum disorder, with what used to be Asperger’s towards the more mild end. It has an evolutionary advantage in enabling us to categorise, systematise, and predict the world.)

    And those of us with obsessive interests occasionally make some sort of contribution to our interests, and very rarely do anyone else any harm. Meanwhile there are plenty of people out there who do hurt others. I know which I think is better.

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      1. trevorharley

        I don’t want it to sound like a “negative plus” – at least nerds don’t do any harm. Out of freakish all-consuming passions sometimes comes a great contribution.

        For example, your nerdish comparison of different performances across a lifespan gives you something probably few others have. I can rarely notice the difference between interpretations (except sometimes one sounds in some way “better”, or I don’t like the speed of one, and often I just like the one I’ve heard first best) unless it’s pointed out to me. That’s one reason I enjoy “Building a library” so much.

        And one thing Radio 3 could do more, that people listening to music at home or even going to concerts more, is explain and interpret. (I realise some people complain already about too much talking on Radio 3, and people like different things in performances.)

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  5. Just today I recorded a BAL on Tchaikovsky’s 4th – due for transmission on Saturday 14th January. If you can catch it I’d be interested to know what you think!
    Very best
    Rob

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    1. trevorharley

      I look forward to that, and to see what you think. In accordance with my theory of “first heard”, I like the Adrian Leaper version best, and you probably won’t even mention it. A bit later a friend told me that it was Karajan for the final three Tchaikovsky symphonies, but they sound comparatively leaden to me.

      I see that some kind soul has put the Mravinsky 57 mono version on Youtube. It sounds good, but it’s such a shame that they could only afford one microphone in the Olden Days.

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  6. evelyn gottlieb

    Take no notice of the accusers, your wife and daughters love you just as you are as do we your R3 listeners, that’s what matters , so carry on just as you are and share your experiences with us as we enjoy hearing about them.

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  7. I LOVE your passion, Rob, which is backed up with deep knowledge and understanding. You often tweak my interest unexpectedly or shine a light where I might not have been looking. And this after condor forty years …so far…

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    1. Bless you David. I was just thinking when I started the Tchaik strand on Facebook I’m walking straight into the nerd trap. Must open the strand here (I forgot). Warmest wishes.

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  8. Robert

    The nerd is blessed with deeply satisfying interests that are relatively inexpensive in comparison to the cost of what often passes for excitement these days and usually rather healthy, since one needs no excesses of various substances to feel quite happy. I’ve got 34 recordings of the Sibelius 4th Symphony, acquired over 30 years, and as I enjoy them I find I really don’t need a second glass of Cabernet. And it is very heaven to get together with similarly inclined nerds and compare ideas, play select passages, and finish the bottle of Cabernet. It is not for everyone, of course, but I think a lot of nerds would say that they feel lucky to be what they are, even if they weren’t the center of social attention as teen-agers..

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    1. Robert – I’m with you 100%. And never underestimate just how fascinated non-nerds are regarding our ‘strange obsessions’. In some ways they admire what they perceive as our knowledge, ‘connoisseurship’ – and are constantly curious, which can’t be a bad thing. Very best. Rob.

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  9. BertieRussell

    I think that what Ruskin says in this passage about nature, could be extended to immortal poetry, paintings and classical music. We must eschew the ‘fellowship of blindness’

    You say, in losing the delight I once had in nature I am coming
    down more to fellowship with others. Yes, but I feel it a fellowship
    of blindness. I may be able to get hold of people’s hands
    better in the dark, but of what use is that, when I have no where
    to lead them but into the ditch? Surely, devoid of these imaginations
    and impressions, the world becomes a mere board-and lodging
    house. The sea by whose side I am writing was once to
    me a friend, companion, master, teacher; now it is salt water,
    and salt water only. Is this an increase or a withdrawal of truth?
    I did not before lose hold or sight of the fact of its being salt
    water; I could consider it so, if I chose; my perceiving and feeling
    it to be more than this was a possession of higher truth,
    which did not interfere with my hold of the physical one.

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