Soon a couple thousand sociologists (read: overeducated, largely naive, socially inept narcissists hellbent on studying human societies in a ways that sap the intrigue and energy from the chosen subject matter, leaving it limp and anemic, as lifeless as a corpse on a morgue slab — and YES, I am a sociologist … so FUCK you if my characterization pisses you off) will descend upon the City of Las Vegas, like a wet blanket might be thrown upon two people deep in the steamy throes of a mating ritual, like a math word problem that hums in your brain when you’re fucking somebody really hot, to the point where the humming keeps you from coming. That’s us: Sociologists, modern-day spirit killers. Trust me, our collective headiness will undermine the carnality of Vegas and thus contribute to the ongoing Disneyfication of that once debauched hamlet in the Nevada desert.
If you want to know what our annual conventions are like, check out the ASA meeting “Bingo Card” developed by an Australian colleague whom I’ve never met but intend to seek out as soon as I’ve arrived in Sin City. Clearly he possesses the charming quality of not taking himself –or this field/discipline– too seriously. He’s got a sense of humor, and that’s pretty rare among our species.
In the next iteration of this bingo card, I think my Australian chum should include a square titled “Hearing the phrase ‘ways in which’ when the word “how” would suffice.” This annoying, pretentious phrase has been the centerpiece of my “destroy sociological egghead pretenses” campaign, launched originally in 1997 (the year I stole my doctorate from UCSB). Seriously, who the fuck says “ways in which” … Another annoying speech pattern involves insertion of the phrase “sort of” prior to the utterance of a statement of whose veracity the speaker feels uncertain. We use it when we want to say something that we think is original (but really isn’t b/c there really isn’t a fucking thing new under this goddamned sun) but also wish to hedge our bets and give our conversation partner some material they can use to help us save face when our original commentary turns out to be illogical, stupid, hackneyed, or just plain off the mark. Here’s how it goes: ”So it’s sort of a Foucauldian (yeah, we actually use that word, though we all pronounce it differently and none of us know what Foucault really meant by anything he wrote .. but we pretend ..) analysis that sort of speaks to (yeah, everything speaks to something something else, all of these ideas chattering away) how the neo-colonial regime (i’m not even kidding) panders to the post-structuralist Marxian (Marx once wrote, “I am not a Marxist” … I wish people would read Marx before citing him) … and that’s how I sort of get to the conclusion that … blah blah skippy.
So much hot fucking noxious gaseous air. Sociological discourse is like a Hindenburg filled with State Fair attendees’ farts. Smells the same, and just about as useful. But kind of fun to sniff and then run away laughing.
My own Bingo card will look different. It’ll include sights, sounds, and sensations experienced largely off the conference grid. If I attend three sessions, I’ll have tripled my average. Instead, I’ll be spending time in the “underworld” of Rounders games, strip clubs, brothels, dope dens, crackhouses, and other places of ill repute. Ideally, I’ll find a donkey and some fireworks, two critical ingredients for a spectacular, nee mind-blowing, evening.
Roaming the halls of ASA conventions always amuses me. Mostly I spend time watching sociologists stand on the sidelines watching their fellow sociologists’ miserable, usually unsuccessful attempts to interact with one another. Watching of watching — this is the activity that will punctuate all of the very serious fucking off that I intend to do while there. After all, it’s Vegas … and what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right?
I’m a sociologist. You’re a sociologist. Everybody’s a fucking sociologist. If you’re a sociologist, I hope that I’ve amused you with this entry. If you’re pissed, then fuck you. For you “civilians” out there, do yourself a favor and come to Vegas for our convention this coming weekend. Barge in, march up, and try to force us into conversation. You’ll reduce us to whimpering masses of sweat and tears. Once you’ve turned your back, though, we’ll gather ourselves together and watch you safely from a distance, probably from the bar, as most of us are addicted to alcohol, pills, and/or conference fucks.
I’ll be reporting (blogging, twittering, and Toutcasting) live from Vegas … So tune in, if nothing else, you’ll laugh your ass off, in between bouts of crying (especially if you’re paying college tuition for a kid who’s decided on sociology as a major).
–Greg Scott, Ph.D.