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LOOKING LIKE AN INTELLECTUAL:
IT'S EASY TO LOOK SMART WITHOUT ACTUALLY BEING. SMART.

I have always sought the appearance of the intellectual, while doing absolutely nothing at all to actually be one. I have never had an original thought, solved a problem more difficult than making a menu selection in a restaurant, or uttered any observation more profound than "Wow. Smokin'".

After all, such a pursuit would involve, at the very least, learning a passing knowledge of philosophy and literature. As I tend to occupy a good deal of my time staring wistfully into mirrors and yanking hairs out of my knuckles, there is clearly no time for such a pointless exercise. (In fact, this article is being typed by several dozen Howler monkeys chained to typewriters, which might explain the occasional flaw in reasoning. We communicate by grunting, after all.)

And what would be the point of expending the considerable effort required to become a real, functioning intellectual, other that to have crowds of adoring people hang on your every word and reverentially intone their adulation with phrases like "Wow. Smokin'."?

Why, none at all, says I.

Here are some easy tips which will allow you to have the respect of an intellectual without any effort whatsoever on your part!

  • Be older than everyone else. There are two ways of doing this, namely, either seek out a crowd much younger than you (which is likely to gobble up your line of nonsense), or let Mother Nature do the work for you, and get old. (The nicest part of getting old is that it requires no effort at all. Bonus.)
  • Grow a moustache. (This is perhaps not a great, or even possible idea for most women.) I think that a moustache implies that so much of your time is spent deep in thought that you simply don't have time to shave. In my case, I gave up shaving my upper lip when I was about thirteen simply because my hand/eye co-ordination was so bad that I couldn't manage the task without losing enough blood to need a little house call from the Red Cross from time to time.
  • Frown. Whenever someone says something that you absolutely don't understand, frown and shake your head slowly, and quietly intone something like, "There are none so blind as those who will not see…" If this doesn't work then…
  • Sigh. Treat this as much as the previous entry. If this still doesn't work, try…
  • Leaving the room in a snit. Try tossing out "Maoists!" or Deconstructionism has never served the body proletariat!". You could also simulate the need to hurl, or fake a bowel obstruction or even a myocardial infarction if necessary, but get out of the room before you have to justify an argument. Even dropping a good fart will do in a pinch.
  • Appear to be deep in thought. I achieve this by lapsing into a coma, and making occasional disgustingly loud and wet nasal sounds.
  • Learn to pronounce 'Nietzsche' correctly. ( It's properly either "nee-chee" or "nee-cheh", but most assiduously not "nee-ets-chee" or "nee-ets-ski".) It's not essential that you actually know anything about his philosophy other than "what doesn't kill us makes us strong", other than to know when to frown or sigh (see previous entries).
  • Wear eyeglasses. I started doing this the easy way, by having my eyes go to Hell in a handbasket and really needing glasses, but you can achieve the effect more easily merely by getting lenses that don't do anything. You'll look smarter. Trust me. Plus, as a bonus, when you're really stuck for something clever to say, you can stall by taking your glasses off and cleaning them, or chewing on an arm and looking pensive.
  • Learn some important sounding words and phrases, in other languages if possible. You know the kind of thing:"…your a priori assumption is laughable in it's naivete…", "…your conclusion rests on a faulty post hoc ergo propter hoc…", "…this is clearly a failed syllogism…". There are all sorts of things you can say that appear to make sense, but don't, and of course no-one would ever ask you to explain. Such as: "I find his use of the subjunctive to connote irony quite engaging." Follow this with a knowing chuckle, and bask in the glow of admiration from your listeners. Or how about: "Existentialism? Existentialism is to cat food as neoclassicism is to an olive grove." Nifty, huh? And it doesn't mean a darn thing.
  • Wear old, shabby clothes that are full of holes. This is not unlike the moustache line of reasoning. It will seem to the casual observer that you are far too distracted by impossible deep thoughts to notice anything so mundane as a hole in the elbow of your cardigan. This also allows you to dress really cheaply. And of course, if your spouse gets on your case about wandering about in rags again, simply refer to the easy-to-follow suggestions above, and paralyze her with the weight of your intellectual reasoning.

Well then! See you all at the Mensa convention!

-Jon Park-Wheeler

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SC Alder / Computer Tamers
Nov/06