Savage Love May 31, 2017 at 4:00 am



I've always been attracted to Slytherins. Too bad I'm not queer.
1. There are Harry Potter MOVIES. Even as a doctoral student (I used to be one!) you can find time to watch them.
2. Stop telling them you got Slytherin! My God, just the fact that you are willing to tell them that shows that you know nothing about what it means. Either that, or that you are EVIL. (Would you them them that a quiz said you are the reincarnation of Lizzy Borden? No. So don't tell them Slytherin!) You are a doctoral student, so the quiz was wrong and OBVIOUSLY you belong in RAVENCLAW.
Or, ALONE may just not have found the right person yet. She might need someone who also enjoys really intense intellectual conversations. Maybe invest further time into socializing with other nerdy colleagues and/or asking them to set you up with their nerdy lesbian friends.
Long post inbound, may or may not be accurate based on incomplete data and guesses along the way but:

"I am having trouble maintaining casual and fun conversations despite my intentions. I come off as intense."

The issue isn't so much intensity as disinterest in anything outside of your core experience. You're coming off as hostile and patronizing and just plain exhausted at the interests of those around you.

Most people aren't Harry Potter obsessives but it's a common shared experience that can drive other conversations. If you shut down their avenue, make sure you have some similar pleasantry to substitute that you're interested in but that they can bounce off to discuss in whatever depth they are capable of.

Your interests may run deep, but you need to give back to make someone feel you're sincerely interested in what they have to say. You don't have to pay attention to television or movies, but maybe try to pick up some thing you can riff off of from their profile? Profiles exist to give these little nuggets of interest, surface-level elements that compose their narrative of self.

You may feel you're beyond talking of trivialities, but few people spend the majority of time beyond the courtship phase hashing out solutions to life's problems. Media is a tool they use to relate and connect with others, just as they were the punks and the goths and whatever else in school.

You can express an interest in their identity by asking interesting questions or bouncing their favorite characters off themselves, get them talking, it wouldn't hurt to read the book if it's such a phenomena that EVERY date seems to reference it but ultimately your goal is to engage,. And the sidesteps and shut-down answers are suggesting that not only are you not interested in the book, but by proxy you don't care about their interests.

The intensity that's put off is not your personality so much as your disinterest of in theirs, it comes off as rather one-sided from this letter. Are you ever "casual"? Can you translate your idea of fun to others? If you don't see the purpose in sharing your enjoyments (academic or otherwise), others will have picked up on this. You don't have to share interests, but it's imperative to make them feel included in your life and know what makes you tick, alongside feeling respected enough for you to devote energy to know anything of what makes them tick.

Ultimately stick to figuring out how to get to know someone as the person they are, and allow them these initial narratives of self. You likely have your own you wish to convey, and it sounds that you receive similar respect from the other parties, just work to find natural paths to volley a sincere interest back and forth with less friction. If you're above pop culture, there's plenty of art lurking beneath, there's plenty of relatable concepts. Buy yourself a "Philosophy of Harry Potter" book (I know they had them for Buffy and Battlestar Galactica, at least) or get into metadiscussions. If you're "intense" and have interests, you should be able to find some nerdy meeting point to catch and release attention and be inclusive. Don't use "intense" as an excuse to shut down things outside your small scope of interests.
@3: They can easily run into these issues dating in academia as well if their interests don't dovetail and they can't find a way to reconcile why they don't care about the other's field of interest and daily life. Expressing a joy in learning about what makes others tick helps a great deal.
It's unusual that ALONE has to write in at all. Very many 25-year old gay doctoral students can find lovers--because universities are queer places; they have a higher than usual concentration of queer people.

The fact that ALONE is writing in, with such a hopeless, where-do-I-start query, may suggest many things. Perhaps she has dated men before and has never had a gay relationship, after deciding or realizing that was her primary orientation in her early 20s. In this case, frankly expressing desire may help, whether she comes over as intense or not. Another thought I had was that she was probably doing a PhD in a small school, where there wasn't much of a concentration of other gay humanities students. Because there are invariably queer subcultures at the big state grad programs and at Ivy and other private universities. So she may feel somewhat of a fish out of water in other ways, besides sexuality ... but I think rather than supposing she has to dive into popular culture or will herself to be more casual than she is, she should be herself and look for someone culturally like her.

It also occurred to me that she was perhaps on the autism/Asperger's spectrum. Many people doing humanities, rather than science, can be. They (or we; I doubt I'm exempt) understand people through thinking what's rational for them in their positions, rather than by empathizing. If this is right (or plausible), then Dan's response is too harsh. I know, having done a social science / humanities doctorate myself, that 90% of the time, remarks I would normally take as narcissistic are meant as generous and admitting vulnerability; and questions intended (by me) as interested and playful are taken as 'probing'.

Someone will love and desire her intense and analytical habits of mind.
Alone should perhaps try to steer the conversation away from litterature and towards whatever the girls she talks with are really interested in. That would put her in an "inferior" position where she doesn't sound like she's the fount of all knowledge (which can truly be intimidating, especially on a first meeting).

@6 Harriet I got a strong ASD vibe from the letter as well.
Hot Hung Husband's wife: fuuuuck girl, you hit the jackpot. So fucking jealous of you. He's hot, he's hung, he's hot for me, AND he realllllly wants to fuck pretty twinks & tell me all about it/let me watch? Goddamn goddam goddamn. I am with you, lady: I don't need to be there - tho that would be awesome - but either way just get this party started HHH.
ALONE, the conversation you describe didn't go off the rails because you're "intense," whatever that means. Even the most brilliant and deep thinkers who work on weighty matters can dial back and engage in light(er) conversation, and have interests and passions that go beyond their area of professional expertise.

When you imagine dating a woman, what are you interested in doing together? Surely, you don't just envision discussing arcane aspects of literature. Are you attending the theater or concerts, going camping, cooking together, or dancing? If so, aren't you interested in talking about those things to see if she shares some of your vision and interests of what your relationship would look like?

Also ALONE, your example suggests you're not adept at making a conversation a collaborative process. You opened with the topic of literature, and your date responded with Harry Potter, but you shut down the conversation by rejecting her contribution, which left her no way to engage with you. Imagine how the conversation might have gone if when your date asked about Harry Potter, you said, "That's a really cool, I enjoy books like that. Are you also into The Chronicles of Narnia / Lord of the Rings / Game of Thrones / Etc?" In that way, you've validated what they've said in the conversation, and added to it. What you've been doing is shutting down your side of the conversation, and then quizzing them on something you've made clear disinterests you.
ALONE: my guess is you are dealing with a bit of social anxiety and trying too hard - blowing your targets out of the water. @7 has it right by suggesting you should put yourself in the 'inferior' position - try engaging in something where you aren't an expert, where you can show some geniune vulnerability to reassure others that you aren't perfect at everything. Later on, when they are relaxed with you, they can discover that you are a deep and thoughtful person.
Dan's advice for hunting woman "unicorns" might be relevant here--- consider pros or a couples swap, make sure you are respectful and not treating them like objects, be attracted to individuals rather than the thought of acts, respect boundaries, be aware that what you are asking for can be requested with tiresome regularity and make having a dating profile feel like the death of a thousand cuts (I assume--- as a lesbian, it kind of does for me), be gracious about refusals, buy THEM dinner and make sure that doesn't feel like a down payment, don't let your threesome hunger override your common sense, be as authentically attractive in your own right as you can (Archie and Edith Bunker would have been auto-nopes for most, but some people might find Maureen Stapleton's legendary kindness and Leslie Carroll's wit intriguing), respect profile boundaries.. . I am well aware that there is more, but that"s a start.
I don't know about that advice for HUBBY. Should a couple's first attempt at a threeway really involve secret back channel plotting between the third and one of the partners?

Plus, you're a married couple, you're having your first threeway, and the wife suddenly needs to leave -- wouldn't most husbands conclude the wife was having an unexpected negative reaction to what was happening, so intense she needs to immediately remove herself from the situation, and thus wouldn't most husbands go with his wife?

It's just so easy to see that letter: "I thought I'd be fine with the threeway, but I got there and surprised myself by freaking out, and when I left my husband stayed with the third! Do I need to file for divorce immediately?"

I'm so used to Dan's advice being some version of: be honest, talk it out more, etc. The advice being "create an elaborate deception with someone you've never met to trick your husband into having sex with someone else" throws me!
HUBBY might do better starting out by hiring a sex worker and the three of them have a PANTS ON first experience. Plenty of fun stuff you can do with pants on, but if things get weird, it's a safety stop. Kind of like a fall protection device for fucking.

It's his first (?) same-sex experience and their first threesome. It's okay to start out by playing the game on the lowest difficult setting. And a pro who knows how to gauge the collective temperature/spot situations before they occur might be better for them than a guy who doesn't have a level of experience and professional detachment.
@13: "secret back channel plotting"

I don't see any "secret" plotting here? Just an attempt at setting the ground rules. I don't know how interested most of the parties would be, of course.
ALONE - Maybe you and I are just weird, but I didn't read your sample dialogue nearly as negatively as a lot of people are - I think it would depend a lot on your delivery. If you'd said "Oh I haven't read it, what do you like about it?" to me and sounded genuinely interested in my answer, I'd've been happy to answer the question; I like sharing good books with people - if they are really interested - and it could have been the springboard to a great conversation. Assuming your delivery really is as cheerful and honestly interested as I read it, rather than bored/dismissive, I'd have been far more taken aback by you saying you turned out to be Slytherin than by your not having read the books. (I myself have never seen Jurassic Park. My husband rags me about it. I roll my eyes and internally renew my promise to myself never to see the damn thing on principle.)

So...uh...when you took that quiz, were you being honest? 'Cause whatever personality traits made you come out Slytherin might be much more of a problem than your tone of voice asking someone what they liked about a book series. (Joking. Mostly. I think. Depending on exactly what the quiz asked you... ;) "How likely are you to do creepy evil nasty things on a daily basis, bully, lie, and attempt to bring about the dictatorial rule of a truly evil overlord?" "Extremely!!!" You got a bigger problem than Slog can help you with.)

Anyway, good luck, hang in there, ask 'em if they've ever read Philip Pullman's Dark Materials or something. Then go kayaking and go for ice cream.

From a fellow not-so-straight doc student.
Few more suggestions to ALONE:
As a literature student/instructor you must have some writing talents and aspirations yourself.
Go to public readings and open mic events and check out the scene. Talk to readers you liked their work. Read your own stuff and while no need to over share, be aware that showing some vulnerability can add you points.
Have fun with the medium and your own experiences. Write something funny about the Harry Potter disappointments you inflict on yourself. Some may identify. Take a well-known serious work of some sort and turn it into a hilariously funny one.

You can also embed your attraction to women into your writing, indicating your preference in a subtle way.

Hang around once the event is over for the after reading drinks and chatting. You may also find literature enthusiasts you can click with

Don’t be too aggressive nor uptight about meeting someone, just have fun and let things happen.
HUBBY: Oof! You GO, girl!
ALONE: Just be yourself, enjoy Harry Potter, and ease up on the Quiz Show.
Aunt Zelda @ 18
Considering the assumed follow up action, it is possible that Venn would have excused you for this YGG moment.
Speaking of Venn…

Please, someone do tell ALONE that if she's going to attempt those books (and she should, for dating and general human interaction) to start with the second one. ALONE, you should be able to make it through them if you skip the first.
Does ALONE want a fuck or a relationship?

If she wants a fuck, by all means, ditz it up. Or at least adopt the often successful strategy of listening more than talking. And definitely no quizzing.

If she wants a relationship, she should carry on being herself until she comes across someone who appreciates an intense literature instructor.

I do a lot of quizzing. It turns a lot of women off, and I don't get as laid as much as I would otherwise, but at least I know I'm not sleeping with a dumbass.
@20 CMDwannabe: You think so?
re ALONE: If I had to pick one Hogwarts group to be part of, I'd hope for Gryffindor---but I'm neither a genius nor a wizard---just a muggle. I'd love to hang out with Hermione, Harry, Ron, and the Weasleys, though. George and Fred delightfully kick serious ass and take names.
What the hell is wrong with Slytherin? Cunning, resourcefulness and ambition - nothing in there about EVIL OMG SO BAAAAAD. Chill, people.
@ 10 (Re: Alone).
She could have an intense demeanor without even realizing it. When I started going out with a scientist, on me making some offhand comment she would occasionally fix me with her blue-green eyes from across the table, expressionless, and utter: "Elaborate".

I'm pretty sure it comes with the academic / scientific territory. She got gently teased about it and she hasn't said it since (which I kinda miss). We're still dating 18 months later and get along great.

ALONE: I agree that your delivery when discussing pop literature could use some work. Instead of, "I don't read Harry Potter. What do you like about it?" Try something more like, "I haven't read Harry Potter yet. What's your favorite book in the series?" It might help if you're not coming off as judging them for reading for pure enjoyment rather than seeking superiority by enduring lengthy, oppressive tomes
@12 That was Jean Stapleton who played Edith Bunker, and Carroll O'Connor played Archie. BTW, did you know I haven't read Harry Potter?
@10. Sublime Afterglow. My ideal of a relationship is still pretty much silence and solitude, punctuated by graduate seminar-style discussions and heavy sessions of sex. Sure, now I'm in my 40s I can whistle opera tunes (and Britney) in the kitchen while making French toast for my partner. But this is an achievement. Through my 20s and early 30s I was content to allow myself to be fucked (not always on the terms I'd have chosen), while in my work getting my head down, writing my thesis, writing legal opinions. Unlike ALONE, the immediate impression I cause isn't intimidating (I rather provoke mild derision or pity), so it was easy enough for me to do this ... well, whatever--but I don't think ALONE should be shamed for her analytical tendencies and invariable habit of conceiving of anything in academic terms.

There's no way that she thinks she's closed down the conversation about Harry Potter in the way you describe. Actually, my question is more why there isn't anyone she can discuss Nightwood with, or queer theory. Does she not think she's good enough for these intellectual lesbians?
@22. Biggie. I think she wants a relationship, but I take her as being entirely at a loss. The 'E' in 'ALONE' claims she wants excitement, but that doesn't seem quite right. Has she had sex with a woman before? It's possible that it will work out easier for her to have this, first of all, with a committed partner.
If you find yourself too analytical and intense, maybe try dating some STEM women. I suspect they will not find you so. In fact they might find you insufficiently analytical, but at least that'd be a new problem.

I agree with other posters that mentioning Slytherin is a big mistake. That's just creepy. I also think not reading at least some Harry Potter is a mistake. You can always decide it's beneath you after you've read one, and then at least you'd be able to say, 'Ya know, I only read the first one because of x, but boy, she did do a good job with y!' The 'pop' bit in front doesn't actually negate the 'culture' bit.
@28 "I don't think ALONE should be shamed for her analytical tendencies and invariable habit of conceiving of anything in academic terms"

I don't think persons were?

She posted that she believed her approach was getting in the way of her end-goals, and we approached from that angle, to reduce the perception of dismissiveness.

It is, after all a date, and there's an interest in couching things as more of a dialogue and playful on some level, neither of which are incompatible with "academic".
Dr. JonnyBones @21 - what? Why on earth would you tell someone to skip Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone? It introduces the world of Harry Potter, establishes characters and relationships, and sets the groundwork for all of the other books. It's also the shortest book, so if someone wants to dip their toe in, it's the easiest one to start with.

Plus, the entire series is really just one big story, separated into seven books. It's not a series of self-contained stories like, say, the Discworld books are. Telling someone to skip a book is like taking away pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. I personally thought Order of the Phoenix was the worst book in the series, but I would never tell anyone to skip it because there are some important events and revelations in it. Also, different strokes for different folks - some people are instantly hooked by the first book. I know I was.
The last thing someone with poor interpersonal skills or anxiety should do is take a first date somewhere where all there is to do is talk.

Find an activity which requires some attention so that the activity makes the conversation for you. At worst, a movie will give you guys something to talk about.

You seem to grasp the concept of getting the other person to talk so you are not expected to, but rather than the approach you seem to be taking, go with "Oh, I have always wanted to read Harry Potter, but never really got a chance to. Which one was your favorite?"

Now instead of your date thinking "Man, I just made myself look immature to Professor Buzzkill" they are thinking about why they like Harry Potter, and maybe how to get you into it. Might make someone want to see you again so you can a watch one of the movies or something.
As I was reading ALONE's letter, I was thinking she was asking where she might meet people who share her tastes, not wondering how she might change her approach. She needs to meet women who, when asked what they like to read, answer that for allegory they like Faerie Queen and Colson Whitehead, for women's lit they're a big fan of Audre Lorde and the Bronte sisters, and for guilty pleasures, there's Daphne du Maurier. I like ciods's idea of looking for such women at the meet and greets in the STEM departments.
When you tell someone you are an English teacher or a doctoral student in literature or something of the kind, many people are intimidated. They're afraid you're going to judge them for "talking wrong," or that you'll look down on them for using slang. They wait for you to correct their usage or grammar. They anticipate your scorn for their writing--even writing like emails or texts. They fear you'll be a pedant. They think you are likely to be pretentious; they assume you'll look down on their tastes, that you'll think pop culture books are beneath them. And some English majors/professors very much live up to those expectations.

To some extent, if the conversations ALONE has go the way she described that exchange, she is contributing to that perception. Dan is right: the response is condescending, even if isn't meant to be. If you haven't read Harry Potter, and you don't want to, at least do a wikipedia search for the plot summary and consider seeing the movies so you can respond with something genuine, but that doesn't falsely establish you as a fan (because she'll be disappointed if she tries to get deeper into mutual fandom and discovers at that point you don't share it). The woman offering you her favorite books is trying to establish common ground. Don't respond like a teacher. Don't respond with distance and judgment, that sounds like you're trying hard not to be judgmental. Introduce a topic that won't make her feel as if both of you consider her to be your unequal.
She can say, "it's so cool you work with literature! I've read all the Harry Potter books a million times!" You can say, "Man, I can't remember the last time I got to read a book just for fun. Can you believe that I never read any of the Harry Potter books? I need to find out what I've been missing. Would you lend me the first one?"
By the time you've finished reading the first one, the two of you have hopefully had more dates, found more common ground. If you find you like the book, great. If you don't (and I'm guessing that ALONE doesn't expect she will), you never need to bring it up again. If later she says, "didn't you love it?! Do you want me to lend you the second one?," you can say it wasn't really your cup of tea or whatever. By then, that should not be important enough to make or break the relationship.

As someone with a post graduate degree in Social Sciences myself, I empathize with ALONE. I think that @6 is right and that Dan's answer is too harsh. She's trying to engage and doesn't intend to come off as too intense. I could have written her letter myself a few years ago.
I would say to ALONE, just keep being yourself. Try to listen more and talk less (which always helps) because people like listeners. Also, it sounds like you're like me and have trouble regulating your intensity. Listening more and talking less helps with that. In the end though, don't try to mask the real you. Eventually in a relationship the real you will come through, so you need to find someone who finds your analytical self someone they want to be around. I surrounded myself in people who share my brand of weird and awkward, and I found someone who loves me who is weird and awkward and academic and analytical like me. It's great, and I'm glad I didn't sacrifice the core of who I am in the process.
@34: People who study literature aren't monolithic in their tastes. If I asked someone what they liked to read and they gave me your answer, even though I read and like those authors, I would be doing an inward eye-roll. It reads like the answer to a question in a job interview, not like a first date connection-establishing conversation. Saying that Daphne du Maurier is a "guilty pleasure" is pretentious. You can be a professor of literature and still act like a regular person--or at least try.
I'm analytical; most people who get graduate degrees in STEM or in literature (or probably anything) are. ALONE wants someone to appreciate her for her analytic nature, and she should. She should also not try to be someone she's not in order to "sell" a false version of herself, We all should be loved by people who love us because of our qualities, not despite them.

But being analytical doesn't mean you can't have normal conversations and like pop culture. Either ALONE is super intense or nervous and socially anxious. Which is okay, too. But being analytical by nature doesn't have to mean that you are also nervous, socially anxious, and come off as too intense. It seems that "analytical" is being used as code for maybe not neuro-typical or extremely socially anxious or extraordinarily intense or Mr. Spock-like.
@38: There's also the assumption that she's looking for or needing a mirror image of herself, should she exclude all others who don't meet her immediate familiarity of experience and interests?
I agree with Undead @39. ALONE is more likely to be compatible with someone whose interests and personality complement her own, not her doppelganger. lf ALONE ever decided to give online dating a try, she should be looking for someone with a high degree of self-confidence and a mellow, laid-back personality, who won't be either intimidated or put off by her intensity and awkwardness in social situations. It would probably help if a potential match has at least a bachelor's degree since I get the feeling that ALONE values intellectual as well as physical stimulation, but I know a Ph.D. university prof (female) who has been happily married for decades to a construction worker who barely made it through high school. Sometimes intellectual compatibility is less important than personal chemistry and shared life goals.
My guess is that she says that stuff about Harry Potter in an attempt to not be condescending. Obviously people who are doing PhDs in literature are into things other than popular children's books. But the reality is that it's very common for this to be the sort of fiction that most people really read. So she doesn't want to come across as a snob, and so she attempts to engage with the date's interests. If you are socially awkward, you've probably heard the advice that if you don't know how to naturally converse on a subject, the best thing to do is validate what the person says and ask them questions so they can talk about themselves and their interests rather than dominate or offer your own opinions. To me, it sounds like this is what she's trying to do. The other person probably notices the strain and thinks it is condescending or awkward-
all things she's probably trying to avoid.

What to do? Well, she could just read the damn books if it keeps coming up. She doesn't even have to read all of them- just flip through the first, watch a movie, and read the wiki page for the rest, and she could be up to date in one afternoon.

Or better yet, talk about something else. Why talk about books at all? Surely you are also interested in other things? Meet people who have interests in those things as well. What do you do outside of academics? What other things interest you? Do you have other hobbies? Sports, cooking, crafts, politics, outdoor activities, music, etc.? If there is nothing at all else that interests you than books, then part of the problem with conversation might be that you don't have much to talk about.

Or ignore the advice and talk about the books you like and your work and be genuine. There are people who are interested in hearing about how other people live and think. Just try not to be bore and look for signs of interest. People might not mind hearing about what you read, but the fact is that lots of people just aren't interested in leading conversations about books, Potter or otherwise. You could be shutting them down in your attempt to engage them in a conversation that neither of you really want to have.

If, in the end, you want to be with someone who is also heady and likes to talk seriously about books and ideas, etc, then look for that. It's harder to find and will probably require you to develop a social network of people like this, and you'll probably need to look around your campus or in social/political/professional/artistic organizations outside school and the internet in your community.
I am a bit curious about how often Harry Potter comes up in conversation here. This is probably a generational thing as the LW is 25, but I can't think of a time it's ever been a conversation topic in my own life beyond a casual "Oh I saw the new Harry Potter movie last night". I mean, I know people who like and read the books, even some who dress up as characters for Halloween so they are fans, but as a conversation topic, I don't think those books have ever once come up in my experience.

For younger people, are they really such a big deal that it's socially odd or awkward to not be familiar enough with them? Do you find yourself having conversations about Harry Potter on every first date? Seems bizarre to me if that's true, but what do I know.
Former grad student in literature here. Telling a 25 year old doctoral candidate in literature to catch up with everyone else and read Harry Potter already is like telling a 25 year old gold star gay that he should have sex with a woman.

ALONE, there are two ways to deal with someone whose response to you working with literature is to mention their love of Harry Potter: (1) walk away; or (2) have sex with them as quickly as possible to see if there's sufficient heat to justify dealing with them further. Ignore all these well-meaning people who think you should engage a large body of material you have studiously avoided so far. Don't take their quizzes, or try to talk about it, find a way to change the subject.*

It's not that you can't find happiness with someone who loves HP, it's just unwise to try to connect with them early on by talking about books if that's their jump off point. Because you're obviously in vastly different relationships with books. Don't try to force that as a connection point, you'll all just feel awkward.

*I tried to think of an example of how to change the subject and the least shady attempt I can come up with is to switch to the movies, I love how they employed all these great British actors, I love Alfonso Cuaron, etc.
@44: Good points, SophieX.

@42: Also good points.
@43: EmmaLiz, I'm in my mid-50s, and it's my observation as a parent and a university English instructor who hears a lot of 20-somethings, that Harry Potter is a familiar touchstone for many young people, a lot of whom have a serious fan-level interest in knowing the trivia. But I doubt that it dominates first-date conversations.
@44: Telling a literature student to read Harry Potter is seriously getting compared to conversion therapy? Jesus, the Stranger's gotten even worse in the last four years.

I was 24 when I passed my candidacy exam, in chemistry. I didn't go around telling Breaking Bad fanatics that their show was stupid and I'd have nothing to do with it. Then again, I'm not a jackass.

I find people who are only moderately intelligent tend to be the most insecure around new people. Then again, treating potential dates the way you'd treat a student you TA is kind of a red flag in itself.
I've read the first few aloud to children, and I know there is a big fandom. But from the outside, it looks like any fandom- which is to say that the people not involved in it don't have to actively avoid it to have it never touch their lives. But I guess if it's a shared childhood touchstone for an entire generation, then it might come up more often. I guess like the original Star Wars was for people our age. That puts Sophie's comment into better perspective. If it's not just a casual comment (oh, yeah I like the Harry Potter books) and instead an indication of fan-level interest, then the LW might want to avoid since she's not interested in that fandom. If an adult told me that Harry Potter was his/her favorite book, I'd just take that as an indication that they don't read much (which is fine with me btw as there are a million different ways to be interesting) and I certainly would not try to pursue a serious conversation about reading with them thereafter. Instead of the gold standard gay analogy, I think it would be more like if you were a real foodie and someone tells you that they prefer to just eat a sandwich than any other food. Nothing wrong with sandwiches and no judgement on the person, but I wouldn't try to have a conversation about cooking or ask them for restaurant recommendations. I'd just scratch that topic off my list of things to talk to them about. To me, it seems like the LW needs to either find other ways to connect to a person so that it doesn't matter what her dates read b/c they don't talk about it, or she needs to find a way to attract people who are also wide readers. But she didn't ask about the second which tells me that she's not necessarily looking for someone with the same interests as she has, but rather how to connect with people with different interests without coming across as someone who hates fun or a snob. That can be tricky if you are a serious minded young person.
@46 Generally I agree with all that. But the Breaking Bad analogy is apples and oranges. Breaking Bad is a work of fiction about human relationships, not a show about chemistry. It would be more like a date telling you that they really love chemistry because they made sugar crystals once. Or that their favorite scientist is Mr. Wizard. Both of which I would find very cute actually, but you wouldn't suggest that a chemist who'd never made sugar crystals or sat through a Mr. Wizard experiment should do so, surely?
I mean no serious intelligent professional academic would ever be so gauche as to have read a "children's" book in their personal time, right?

"Oh yeah, to 'relax' I just dive into my dog-eared Finnigans Wake and ponder life's mysteries..."

People who position themselves as unable to find enjoyment in lowbrow culture of ~any~ variety (music? art? television? theater?) are still going out of their way to distance themselves from others. It's not any specific content and I know much of it doesn't appeal to me, but being able to appreciate things outside of your current set of interests, if not for yourself but for a potential partner and the joy they feel in relating their personal connections to the media/lyrics... that's an important skill to have.
I think it's fine to avoid a fair chunk of pop culture. I do so myself. But there are some things that are so prevalent that to avoid them completely marks you as some type of ornery. It has to do with the critical mass of people within your community who are familiar with the thing. The Star Wars example was a good one for anyone in their 30s-40s. I think Harry Potter is like that for 20-something English-speakers. It doesn't mean she has to read them all, but to have never even read the first one is going to seem odd to people, and interpreted as an implication that she thinks she has better taste than--well, the entire rest of the world. I say this as someone who finally gave in and read the Twilight series. And you know what? They were all right. Not well-written, and not deep, but I could see what the gushing was about, and they didn't take away my brainy card just because I read them. Purposefully not engaging in pop culture turns out to be as much work as occasionally dipping a toe in. You don't have to do it with everything that comes along, but if you don't ever do it, then you're just being mildly obnoxious, and you will have to work a lot harder to find people who are that same type of obnoxious.
I like your additional examples, EmmaLiz. Thank you for the explication. :)
"I mean no serious intelligent professional academic would ever be so gauche as to have read a "children's" book in their personal time, right?"

In my experience, they're more likely to indulge in reality tv.
@31. Undead Ayn. Well, I took what you said:

The issue isn't so much intensity as disinterest in anything outside of your core experience. You're coming off as hostile and patronizing and just plain exhausted at the interests of those around you...

as probably too harsh in tone for ALONE, in that I doubt she has any idea that, in the sample conversation, she quotes, she's coming over like you describe. I know that you're trying to grasp the problem and come up with solutions for her being able to approach women and socialise more easily. And maybe it's not too abrupt to confront her with 'how others might see her'. It's very unlikely that someone studying literature at a doctoral level wouldn't have a basic familiarity with the tools and texts of cultural studies--whether she applies them to Harry Potter or Young Adult literature or not. This, in other words, would be close to, or part of, her 'core experience'.

Sublime Afterglow, who is compassionate and informed about pretty much every orientation (many that I'm not), said: 'Surely, you don't just envision discussing arcane aspects of literature' in your dating. This isn't what lit. critics do--'arcane'; it's not how they think of their work. I have a sort-of humanities PhD myself and I guess I was bridling--that we were worse understood than homoflexibles, asexuals, twinks, bears, pissers, breast men, swingers, Southerners, oilmen (and -women), snake oil men, lawyers, gym rats and those who felt the Bern. Well, I felt the Bern, and I have it in me to be pretty intense, and I'm sure it's a life-ethos to be welcomed.
@37. nocutename. I thought Fichu's seven-person list pretty diverse: women, men; gay people, straight people; blacks, whites; a coloniser....
ALONE, I'm a bi female literature professor who did a lot of online dating after my divorce. It sucked. A lot of these commenters are giving you advice on how to change your approach, and that's fine, whatever, though I think you're going to have the most success if you stay yourself and just work on being patient and not giving up hope. I'm really, really smart and really, really into sex, and those two things (1) scare away different sets of people, and (2) are often assumed not to go together. The people I didn't scare off in an initial coffee date were sometimes scared off by their first roll in the hay with me. And one guy actually said, out loud, to me, that the dumber a woman is, the more she's into sex. That was our last conversation. Any time what you have to offer is not what everyone is buying, it's going to take more time. I went on sooooo many first dates, and most of them didn't lead to second dates. The happy ending is that I'm still with the person I had my THIRTIETH first date with after my divorce--that was five years ago. Don't decide you're broken and stop trying -- it's a numbers game, and there is likely to be someone out there who will like brilliant, intense, awkward you.
On those sometime occasions when a woman tells me she loves an author I love, I always fall a little bit in love.
Undead, I don't think the LW was trying to come across that way. I think she was actively attempting to avoid coming across that way by engaging- asking what the date likes about it, telling a little anecdote about the quiz. She's trying to be the opposite of what you describe. The problem is, it comes across as condescending anyway and that probably has more to do with social awkwardness and lack of practice with small talk than with snobbishness.

The problem when we talk about very popular things is that a lot of people have trouble believing that some of us really don't enjoy those things. It's not that we are being snobby, we just don't like them. I don't care if others like them. I'm not judging. But no, it's not relaxing to me to curl up with a mindless book like Twilight or Harry Potter. I can't get into the story. I just see used tropes and stock characters, and in the case of Twilight, it's clumsy. My mind wanders from boredom. It's not that I'm a snob or a mastermind- I'm not even particularly interested in literature and certainly not trained in that way. And I understand liking popular things- I'm not looking for consistent high brow quality. I enjoy the hell out of superhero movies for example. I like Steven Seagal. But the idea of spending hours reading something like Harry Potter for anyone other than children. Or worse, having to read Twilight or 50 Shades- it's not that I think I'm too good for that. Just that I would stab my eyes out from boredom. I can't imagine how someone actually trained in literature might feel. And yes, for fun, I do like Joyce, far more than JKR for sure. It's interesting and pretty and you have a lot to work with. You have to actually engage- and that gets my mind off shit in my own life and takes me somewhere satisfying. This is relaxing for me. Honestly. I also like paperback horror books and crime tell-alls so it's not some pretension.

If you are socially awkward anyway (as the LW seems to be), it can be hard to navigate this sort of cultural understanding of entertainment (books, movies) because if you really and truly don't enjoy something that lots of other people like and really and truly do enjoy things that others don't, you can easily get labelled pretentious or alienating or snobbish. The best solution is just to talk about other things with people who don't share your interests, and then when it comes up, just try to go with the flow and not take things seriously. I saw Twilight in the theater and 50 Shades on TV in both cases with friends because I didn't want to be a wet blanket. But no, I didn't enjoy it. Not at all. Not because I think I'm too good for it (as I said, I have my own low brow pleasures) but because I find it over the top, bad acting, tired tropes, bad storytelling, etc- and I'm not offended by these things, just bored to death by them. I can't take them seriously. I think about other things and pretend to pay attention. There are give and takes in social relations, and we all do things that aren't our favorites just because we like the people we are doing them with, so it's fine. But I do get annoyed sometimes by the idea that I'm being pretentious or snobby when I don't like certain popular things. To me, the LW is attempting to deal with this on the dating scene without being snobby. She's not responding to the Harry Potter fan date by saying "I prefer Finnegan's Wake" even if that is true. She's responding by trying to engage the date's interests "What do you like about Harry Potter?" and maybe she's doing it unskillfully, but she doesn't seem snobby. The fact that she comes across as condescending, I think says as much about the way we perceive people who really do enjoy pondering life's mysteries and reading challenging books. Why do we have such a narrow definition of fun in the first place?
BTW one thing that people often miss is that so-called deep or high brow literature is often really funny. Again, your reference to Finnegan's Wake, as if someone who likes that sort of thing is pondering life's mysteries instead of laughing and enjoying themselves.
What I think I was trying to say is that if you develop skills in something, then doing something less challenging actually stops being fun. You might do it anyway to be social, but it doesn't make you a snob that when you can choose how to spend your time, you choose to do it on things that are more challenging to you. We accept this in most human interests. We wouldn't call a professional musician a snob if he spends his spare time learning new songs and gaining new skills instead of playing the same few chords over and over again. It's similar with reading- it can be a hobby like anything else, and it can be relaxing and fun to be challenged while it's boring to consume some things that you've already learned the tricks or heard similar tales. I mean this in a general way since for me, books are just a hobby like cooking and knitting, but let's keep in mind that this LW is actually getting a doctorate in literature. So why is it hard to believe that in her spare time, she'd read challenging literature instead of children's books?
@53: I was responding more to her concerns and know little of how the dates actually go (beyond not well?) So perhaps you are correct.

@57: "Undead, I don't think the LW was trying to come across that way. I think she was actively attempting to avoid coming across that way by engaging- asking what the date likes about it, telling a little anecdote about the quiz. She's trying to be the opposite of what you describe. The problem is, it comes across as condescending anyway and that probably has more to do with social awkwardness and lack of practice with small talk than with snobbishness."

It's one of those "not what you say but how you say it" sort of scenarios, there are undoubtedly better ways to bridge the pop culture knowledge gap and come off less detached and disinterested.

@58: I'm not suggesting it's unfunny/unfulfilling, just a strange dichotomy that someone who loves literature could only abide by classics with little room for anything beyond, including the occasional pulp.

Though, at this point of the thread any initial assumptions or guesses at the subject matter get distorted unnecessarily so consider this an unnecessary aside and apologies :)
@54: Harriet, when I responded to Fichu's comment (#34), @37, I didn't mean that her list was monolithic; I meant that not all literature grad students or professors have the same tastes. I agree that the list was pretty inclusive; it just struck me as the last thing on earth that someone would say to get a conversational ball rolling with someone who said, "what do you like to read?" It sounds studied and carefully chosen to be representative and inclusive--that's why I said it sounded like something you'd say at a job interview. And it worked so hard at establishing the answerer as a well-rounded person who reads different things for different purposes, as many of us do, that it just sounded mannered and as if the answerer had a stick up her ass. My biases, obviously.

I am a believer that you can be an intellectual and still enjoy pop culture--not even guiltily. I also think that it's not a bad idea to familiarize yourself with the biggest and most enduring facets of pop culture, just so you know what everyone else is talking about. You don't have to like everything, or even try everything, and you can draw your line in the sand, but I think it isn't that much of an investment to have read at least one HP book, or see the movies (or a couple of them). I don't get that particular fandom (or any fandom, really) myself, but I don't look down on people who operate or live in it.

I don't think that it's inconceivable that a grad student in literature could have anything in common with someone whose response to hearing that she's a grad student in literature is to say, "it's so cool that you work with literature! I love the Harry Potter books!" I have had fulfilling friendships and romantic relationships with people who don't like to read fiction and I once fell madly in love with someone who thought the best books he'd ever read were the Jean M. Auel Clan of the Cave Bear series. (Look it up, youngsters: they were big from 1980-1990.) That doesn't mean I had to pretend to like those books but it also means that I wasn't going to mock his choice of leisure reading, and I wasn't going to try to make small talk about it, either. Despite his (in my opinion) atrocious taste in pleasure reading, he was an intelligent person and we connected on a whole lot of levels. He even asked me for suggestions about what to read, and I pointed him to some books he ended up liking.

I do understand that ALONE might want someone with whom she shares her literary interests--it's just that she seems to be interested in these women (maybe they have other compelling attractions; maybe they are hella smart but their field of study/interest is in the social sciences or STEM) and in her efforts to make conversation, she frightens them off.
@24 sanguisuga: Nothing is wrong with Slytherin or any other Hogwarts group (I'm admittedly a muggle, remember?). @1 DC270 is notedly a Slytherin fan, too. Maybe you two could get together for a Slytherin fest or start a Slytherin club.
Jason Isaacs was quoted as saying his long, flowing blond wig was what made Lucius.
I wouldn't mind adopting Arthur and Molly Weasley as godparents if they'd have me.
@48, I could have just as easily made my example about Bill Nye. Same thing. I don't shit on other people's interests just because I don't share them. Comparing Harry Potter to sugar water and gay conversion therapy and then complaining about "apples and oranges" is pretty rich though.

Here's a better example with chemistry: cooking. Cooking and baking require a lot of complex chemistry and I've found a lot of common ground on first dates swapping stories about cooking technique or culinary styles or recipes. I don't go around dumbing myself down, but I don't condescend, either.
Jy @13: Agree that that was terrible advice. Being deceptive is pretty much never a recipe for anything but drama. They should keep looking for their pegasus. I'm sure he's out there!
ALONE's dates learn ALONE works in literature and volunteer that they love Harry Potter. It doesn't start with ALONE asking what they like to read.

ALONE's question is: How can I find a woman I jibe with?

My take was to keep looking or to try looking in places that attract students/ teachers/ professionals in the STEM fields rather than in the more general dating websites, lesbian club, and LGBTQ scene at the university. ALONE might consider putting examples of the sort of literature she likes in her profile.

It would seem that the difference advice is:

1. Keep searching for someone you have more in common with in the first place.
2. Keep searching for something in common with the people you meet.

My own experience is that the 2nd tactic only works in the short term. It's great for getting along with co-workers. I know I've pretended an interest in sports for the sake of getting along, and I appreciate that co-workers have pretended a nominal interest in genetics for my sake. Over the long haul, however, the things that make for a pleasant first date aren't necessarily the things that make for a good relationship.

It is possible that the Harry Potter fans do have overlapping interests and enthusiasms with ALONE and that given a chance they'd find them, but if that were the case, they wouldn't get flustered and say that they're not good at describing things. Instead of feeling pressured to give an intellectual response to someone who's intense, they'd meet the challenge and love talking intelligently about what they love about Harry Potter.

ALONE is trying to play dumb for her dates. She's having trouble maintaining casual and fun conversations because, in actuality, she's a pretty intense person. All I'm saying is to keep looking until she finds someone who is as intense and analytical as she is.

@13 & @65 - I think you've both misunderstood dan's advice. I didn't interpret anything said as suggesting any sort of deception. @55 Perfect advice for the LW.
@66: Fichu, I understand what you're saying. I agree that there is value for ALONE to "try looking in places that attract students/ teachers/ professionals in the STEM fields rather than in the more general dating websites, lesbian club, and LGBTQ scene at the university. ALONE might consider putting examples of the sort of literature she likes in her profile."

But considering that I am a literature professor and many of my friends are also highly educated, focused individuals with specific and narrow interests and passions within their greater fields, I think the implication from some and outright declaration from others here that there is no way that a literature grad student could have anything in common with someone whose idea of a good book is Harry Potter is wrong.

That's part of what I meant with my "monolithic" comment way back. I've been on dates where the man has tried to assure me that he's intellectual enough to keep up with me and the way he's done that is to be the most boring person possible. I've had men approach me on dating websites offering up their pretentiousness as if it were something we shared. I really hate the elitist snob persona so many people ascribe to academics, and worse than the presumption that I have it, is being appealed to by true elitist snobs as being one of them. I know some truly brilliant people who have popular/lowbrow tastes when it comes to tv, music, or books they read in their youth which are still dear to them.
@68, cont. This particular woman might indeed need someone as intense and analytical as she is; I am speaking more generally.

But it could also be that this woman is genuinely attracted to these women she's striking out with; maybe she wants to be with someone who, while appreciating her intensity, brings a little levity. Maybe what she's calling intensity and analytic personality is also mixed with a heavy dose of social awkwardness and anxiety. It's not a bad idea to learn how to make small talk and to find common ground with others. And to return to Harry Potter specifically, you'd have to be pretty damned determined to avoid knowing anything about the books/movies at the age of 25 in this society, and as someone upthread said, that sounds like you're a crank.
Nocute @69 (congrats), I agree with you, and gave my reasons why @41.

6 @67, Dan advised HUBBY to text/call/whatevs the twink who catches HHH's eye online but who has vetoed any MMF play, to say that she (HUBBY) would be there to meet and greet but then would happily disappear before the fun starts, if that's what Twink needs in order to award her HHH husband his official Bi Badge. Unless she is keeping HHH fully informed about what she is doing throughout her correspondence with Twink, rather than letting HHH think they will be enjoying a threesome until the very last minute when she bolts, I would call Dan's suggested ploy pret-ty damned deceptive...and fraught with potential for unnecessary drama and a less-than-pleasant first-time gay encounter for HHH, as JyL @13 and BDF @65 have already noted.

Bonus points to BDF for her brilliant coinage of "Pegasus" as the male-bodied counterpart of a Unicorn, and yes, I agree that the better plan is to simply keep searching and waiting until the right Pegasus comes along for their desired threesome. In the meantime, HUBBY can keep working on making it crystal-clear to HHH that she wants him to have his twink-sex experience whether or not she is part of the action, as long as he shares all the sexy details with her afterward!
Not to add to ALONE’s very possible regret of ever sending this question, but when I look back at one of my children who’s around her age and their classmates and friends and neighbors, it would have been rare to find someone who wasn’t into HP at some point regardless of gender and what turned out to be their sexual orientation. Even parents and other adults got it to some degree or another, as the phenomenon was very hard to ignore back in those years.

It is possible that ALONE was intentionally avoiding the HP scene for whatever reason, and that’s OK. Not everyone was into prog rock, some detested disco, and others who could identify with the spirit of punk to a certain extent still preferred listening to Laurie Anderson.

So in the spirit of what Dr. Ley keeps telling us on recent SL’s, maybe ALONE should forgo the shame and put a “Not a Harry Potter fan, and I hope you’re not offended in any way” on her profile. She is also highly encouraged to state what it is that she DOES like.
And while I hope disco isn’t one of them, we’re not in each other’s dating pool anyway.

ALONE: My experience as a 25 year-old doctoral student was quite different than yours. Perhaps you should be thinking about these social interactions more strategically.

When a woman approaches you (or you approach her), she's going to be nervous, doubly so because of the Ph.D. thing, so your mission is to put her at ease. Asking her to produce a book report on the spot generally won't work. If you can't think of something funny to say, say something self deprecating: "I haven't read it, can you believe that? Sorry, I'm such a nerd."

If you're going to turn the mic over to her, toss her a softball and ask her about her life -- what she does, where she lives, where she's from -- and then flatter her with your (almost) Ph.D. level attention. Look for points of interest or common ground in her answers, and follow up on those. Seek ways to align with her.

Use vernacular and the f-word to show you're not stuffy.

If you find that the women you're attracting all love Harry Potter or Ed Sheeran or Nascar, either take the initiative and find women more like you, or hold your nose and expose yourself to those things.
CMD @71 you and I aren't in the same dating pool either, but I totally share your dislike of disco! I can listen to virtually every other type of music on the planet, including medieval chanting, baroque, alt-rock, country, folk, jazz and blues from early 20th century to present, electronica, rap/hip-hop, some of John Cage's SHORTER pieces, and an eclectic variety of traditional and contemporary world music. Even bagpipe and accordian music, although I wouldn't want to listen to either continuously for the length of a typical John Cage piece. But disco tunes - esp. that nasty cymbal on the upbeat - drive me BONKERS. I swear it causes my heart to beat irregularly, and not in a good way. It's part of the reason I don't go out clubbing very often, although I've always enjoyed dancing and I'll admit that disco is pretty easy to dance to...but it bashes ugly on my eardrums, heart, and soul.
WoofCandy: you did what I wanted to do but you did it better. And since I am a literature professor, your comment @56 both resonated with me and piqued my interest. So I have to ask: what authors or books do you love?
Woof @ 72- Ed Sheeran? One really shouldn't have to stoop that low.

Joking aside : great advice about the self-deprecating humour and the use of the vernacular. It works wonders for me.

I read books that most people would consider boring (how can anyone answer the question "what are you reading right now?" with "Words and Rules by Stephen Pinker" and not see the asker flee in panic?). I listen to hundreds of musical artists that systematically fail to appear in the charts. Film-wise, I do a little better as I rarely miss a superhero movie, but my fundamental tastes are directed towards the painful-to-watch variety (Xavier Dolan's Mommy and Steve McQueen's Shame are probably my favourite films of the last 10 years). My job and training automatically make people think I'll correct their speech at every turn, even though I never do that - why alienate (potential) friends and dates when the internet provides ample opportunities to satisfy one's pedantic impulses?

Fortunately for me, I grew up in a blue-collar town and I know and use swear words as often as anyone. I joke about my nerdy tastes, and I'm sufficiently well-informed to be able to have a conversation about most aspects of pop culture (except Ed Sheeran). In fact, the only people I drive away are the pseudo-intellectuals... but I don't mind that one bit.
@53/Harriet_by_the_bulrushes: For purposes of disclosure, I was admitted into a PhD program for mathematical physics, but opted not to attend, and ended up later in life attending two professional programs which consumed five years of study. It wasn't my intention to suggest that a literature PhD would be absorbed in any one task (or that this task would be particularly esoteric or incomprehensible), merely that someone earning such an advanced degree is engaging in that subject at a professional level. Any while a non-professional may enthusiastically engage in that subject a high level - and some people here have indicated that such a deep conversation with a romantic partner would be enjoyable - ALONE may still find it advisable to think about all of the other interests she has and would like to share with a romantic partner, and use those subjects as the basis for first date talk. It may yet turn out that ALONE can find a romantic partner whose interest and knowledge of literature intersects her own to such a degree that deep conversations about literature flow easily, but based on ALONE's letter that has yet to happen, and there is no reason that ALONE should restrict whom she dating, when she can discuss things that are mutually enjoyable with the women she is currently meeting.
@60. Undead Ayn. To me, there has to be a deeper issue than whether the LW's intensity is offputting. A 25-year old lesbian looking for love and sex for two years, and only getting knockbacks? Something else is going on. I don't know what. Others don't see her as a lesbian? She's markedly diffident or shy? Her awkwardness is off the scale? It can't just be about better strategies for small talk. Some people have got sucked into how they respond themselves to the snobbiness of people who disdain pop culture, or the unappealing trashiness of lowbrow tastes in their own right.
@61. Nocutename. OK, I understand a bit more--you think offering the list as a florilegium, as it were, of your tastes would be arch or pretentious. Well, OK. I think that if someone had any book on the list as their bedside reading, they could happily bring it up--especially in response to a question. 'I'm reading the new Colson Whitehead. Some pretty heavy allegory going down there!'

I couldn't get through more than 20pp of the Cave Bear. Maybe I should have stuck with it. Of course literary intellectuals can have low tastes without even necessarily thinking they're (we're) slumming it. Yes, the LW can make the investment of time to read HP ... but that's not really the issue, is it? Can that really be the issue?

78--Harriet-- The issue is that ALONE's dates "are no good at explaining things." I have tons of so-called low brow tastes that I'm able to gush over. "What do you like about it" is a favorite question. I can go on about how old I was when I read the books and how I identified with a character and how I felt like I was so magical inside but no one could see it and how I'm still waiting for an owl to come and deliver me a letter. That's true for everything high or low brow. Popular music? Oh, the rhythm is so bouncy, I play it when I'm cleaning the house, I dance around while I'm throwing laundry into a basket. I just deleted a paragraph where I went into things I might say about movies, poetry, novels (lots of novels), visual arts, dance. And I can do it without saying what my favorites are and without caring if someone else thinks my tastes are worthy or not. (I thought of an exception. I adore Haruki Murakami. I cannot, for the life of me, say why.)
Hey fellow SL fans, this is not related to this week's column, but I am hoping someone can help me and I don't know of a general forum to post questions.

I have been asked a question by a friend - about how to get her boyfriend to try more kinky BDSM things. I know that this is something Dan has answered many times over the years, and would like to send her some links to some of the specific columns (or LOTDs) where he's done so. I can recall some of the basic ideas, but I can't remember the exact way he formulated his thoughts and advice around this. Doing searches within the SL archives with terms like BDSM and kink, as you can imagine, leads to a huge number of results, so there is still a massive haystack to search for those precious needles.

Do any of you awesome people either know offhand some of the specific columns where Dan has talked about this? Or could you suggest a search strategy that is likely to work? Or is there a FAQ/compilation of common topics somewhere?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts!
@76. Sublime. Someone doing a literature degree often (usually?) has some sort of political commitment that's expressed through the terms of literary and cultural theory. So they don't (always) see what they're doing as 'arcane'; they see common-or-garden understandings of literary texts, or just phenomena of social or public life (e.g. politics, the world of work and class relations), as hoodwinked, as ideologically distorted, as the products of false consciousness. To them, their understanding is central and straightforward. A whole apparatus of appearances and imaginary relationships is necessary, for them, to sustain other people being misled as to the nature of social reality. (To a degree, this style of thought is not confined to humanities departments, but represents the metropolitan left's analysis of Middle America's attraction to people like Trump).

My PhD was in critical legal studies and queer theory. It was in a department of Sociology, but would have been the least empirical piece of work they ever endorsed. I got away with it because they couldn't crab me on the law. At the time I was aware that there were so many people more committed than I was to field research and participant activism with disadvantaged or marginal groups--really committed to it intellectually and as a scholarly life; it kind-of made me retreat into my shell, as is my wont, and get in and out quickly. I was always going to be a law prof., inter alia. Actually I think I'd enjoy being a lit, prof. more. They have more fun, maybe. But less money.

I wouldn't have a clue how the mathematical aspects of physics pan out. I wouldn't dissent from any of your characterisations of ALONE's situation in your last two sentences.
@79. Because Murakami is dreamlike? Because he makes fantasy seem workmanlike? Because he addresses how everyone is essentially estranged? Actually, when put like this, these are probably things that are tiresome about him. What's engaging is something else.

Why isn't ALONE hanging with, or hitting on, queer theorists? Or STEM students, if, as some will have it, these people are more rigorously analytic than humanities types? There could be a mundane answer, like she's the only gay woman in a tiny program. I think only she knows why.
@69 Congrats nocutename, and keep on rocking the house!
I guess I don't have much more to share right now, but am enjoying reading the comments. Excellent threads this week.
Capricornius @ 73
While aware that I need to chill out in some areas, I can’t help but equate disco to bad porn: getting hammered by a repetitive, too fast a rhythm and lots of fake enthusiasm.
@85 CMDwannabe: No! NO-O-O!! Death before disco!
@85 CMDwannabe: Okay, I get it--that was the joke. I couldn't help myself, though.
You gave me an opening I couldn't resist.
I was in college in the late 70's, and having grown up loving live music and the musicianship of the bands I went to see, was aghast at the polyester, syhthetic-ness of disco music. I still remember the big Disco Demolition night in Chicago (which although it went awry I endorsed for the very idea of blowing up disco records!)…
Why do I suddenly now have flashbacks of Boogie Nights (Mark Wahlberg, Burt Reynolds, Julianne Moore,
Gimme classic rock, baby, or nothin' at all. Tie-dye and faded jeans for this unplanned 60s love child. Peace. No polyester or leisure suits, and don't get me started on stilettos or platform shoes (TIM-BERRRRRRRRRRR!).
@88 DonnyKlicious: Disco Demolition Night in Chicago? You and your link caught my attention.
@92Griz... wasn't there, but heard about it from friends who were...totally got out of control. But on the plus side, they DID blow up a lot of disco records! (OK) I'll admit to dancing to YMCA & BeeGees so it's not all bad...just never liked the polyester & sequin scene.
Am I the only one who was rolling my eyes throughout ALONE's entire passage? I've been on dates with people like that--people who think they are so smart and interesting that they forget to ask me even one question about myself. It's like trying to have sex with someone who only wants to masturbate in front of the mirror. It's a good thing ALONE is in a PhD program, because I don't think any real world employer would want to deal with a very young person who thinks she is too much of a genius to be able to connect with people on topics other than the literary canon. Furthermore, her letter seems more like the kind of trite, self-centered nonsense an undergrad would write, so I'm a little skeptical about her doctoral program. I'm also pretty sure anyone who takes an online Harry Potter quiz forfeits their right to suggest that other people are dumb.
Quoth @80: Try searching for the term GGG? That stands for "good, giving and game," meaning a partner who's willing to give new sexual activities a try for the sake of their partner's pleasure.

There were a few recent columns in which the commentariat, if not Dan, opined that getting someone into BDSM by asking *them* to dominate *you* might be more palatable to a novice than asking *them* to submit. It makes sense. Many vanilla people have an aversion to things like pain and humiliation (hence their being vanilla); "will you tie me up and spank me" is therefore less threatening to "may I tie you up and spank you." Once the spanker sees how much fun the spankee is having, they might be encouraged to try it themselves.
*less threatening than.

Surprised that Harry Potter has generated so much debate! FWIW, I think there is a good chance Harriet is right about ALONE being on the autism spectrum. And FWIAW (for what it's also worth), I was gutted to read that ManxsomeFoe is no longer single. Smart and into sex is pretty much my perfect woman!
@94 - someone doth protest too much...
Disco bashing 102:
“Staying alive” segment from 1980 “Airplane”…

For hard core disco dislikers there is also Frank Zappa’s 1976 “Disco Boy,” shown here with some corresponding footage. Not that great of a video editing job, yet capturing the age of polyester…


DO NOT READ HARRY POTTER OR FEIGN AN INTEREST IN HARRY POTTER IF THAT IS NOT YOU. I'm also a "fierce" intense hyper-intellectual woman, I can't STAND cutesy feminine norms, and I like chicks. What I've found is that I do NOT find my kind of woman, and the kind of women who're into me, by going to queer events. Go to lectures on subjects you like, or readings for authors you're ACTUALLY into. Condescending my ASS, you sound curious about a lot of things, including why people like the things they like, even if they don't interest you. That's me too. Hell, I'd date you, if I were looking.

Not sure it really matters at this point, but the conversation was not about not shitting on someone else's interests (which the LW doesn't do) but rather about whether or not the LW should be expected to read Harry Potter because it interests other people. So in the analogy, sure a chemist might be a major ass to shit on someone's interest in Bill Nye or Mr Wizard, but surely you wouldn't expect that chemist to sit through hours of Bill Nye or Mr Wizard just because other people like it? Or in your cooking example (again, apples and oranges for chemistry) but yes a master chef would be an ass to make fun of people who like boxed instant Mac and cheese, but surely you wouldn't expect that chef to spend hours making and consuming boxed Mac and cheese himself, see? It doesn't work to say that cooking involves chemistry. We are talking about a professional here (someone doing a doctorate in literature) being expected to do something in her own field that is very simple and for which she is overly qualified that requires hours (if not days) of private time even though it would be very boring and simplistic to her. That is different than applying her skills to something else (as chemistry to cooking). I'm not sure why it's hard to understand that this would be boring for a professional. We wouldn't ask a professional painter to spend hours on a coloring book and call her a snob if she didn't wanna. Etc forever and I know it doesn't matter anyway, but whatever.
I'm looking for a woman who reads Iain M. Banks novels so we can start our own Excession.
@93 DonnyKlicious: I'm with you on dancing and singing to The Village People's YMCA and to the BeeGees. But really, though--the fashions, hairstyles, platform shoes, polyester, sequins, leather leisure suits, and gross those gold medallions I could have done without in my adolescent years and beyond. Everybody thought I should have forgotten about Farrah's Feather way back when, sheared off my long hair and supposedly look great in a Dorothy Hamill "Wedge" instead. Nope. Geeky as hell.

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