Friday, February 4, 2011

Some Love for Carl Sagan

When I was younger, many of my female friends would fawn over teen pop stars. They'd drive themselves into the most terrible fervor over some guy they'd never met.

I guess now sparkly vampires are more popular, but in my days it was Ricky Martin or N'Sync. It was something I never understood.

Some people suggested I was a lesbian, which was really a weird implication: if you don't like the kinds of guys we like, you must not like any guys at all. But anyway that wasn't the case, because I definitely liked guys at my school, just not these famous pop stars I didn't even know.

The message of the songs was always the same: I love you whole lot and will for a long time. Maybe the message of long-time commitment was really that appealing, but there was no other substance to the songs. It felt like they were presenting love in a vacuum, like a single thought in an otherwise emotionally and mentally empty room.

For the longest time, I just thought there was something completely broken in the brains of these teenagers to be so infatuated with a famous stranger. What could they possibly see in someone they had never met or talked to? I figured I would never understand. Until one day, I watched Carl Sagan's The Cosmos (also on Netflix Instant, where I watched it).

Here was a man who had everything, and loved sharing it with others. He explained the universe, the nature of reality, who cared about technology, advancement and science. This was a man who wanted to reach out and touch the stars, and take some soil samples of their planets along the way. His scope of interest was understanding the universe itself.

Furthermore, this man not only had a great understanding of cosmology, but he used it to give a humble humanist perspective and meaning to the world.

He cared about evaluating life and empathy and intelligence. He cared more about understanding and singing whale songs than about writing some profitable catchy cords.

And during the course of watching that series, I finally understood the phenomena of crushing hard on someone famous.
And so, like most enjoyers of niche fantasies, I went to the internet for help.

But not Google, nor DeviantArt, nor anywhere else I tried could find anything with Carl Sagan more revealing than some stray chest hairs.

Sometimes you have to just accept what little you can find,

but this was incredibly disappointing. Not for me, but for what it means our culture values as sexy traits. I wish there was more love and appreciation for intelligence in the world. It would have been nice if this man had been featured in Playgirl. If this suggestion seems taboo or weird, well then that's at odds with the notion of celebrating intelligence. If singing about "love" as an isolated concept is vacuous, then so is doing that to science. Science deserves to be coupled with other parts of our everyday life. A good mind is very sexy, and I wish that appreciating the hotness of mental prowess was more popular.

For me personally, I wish I had known about Carl Sagan when I was younger. I wish that this was the sort of idol marketed to teen girls as someone to aspire to and crush on. I wish that Carl Sagan had been accessible to me to have been my teenage hero when I was younger. But I didn't even know about him. I feel like I was cheated and told that all there was for me was this singular empty concept. I feel like it's time to change. So I am here, publicly embracing the sexiness of science.

(P.S. While I think Carl Sagan is a total stud, my hormones will always belong to you, Russell and your huge brain.)


  1. > (P.S. While I think Carl Sagan is a total stud, my hormones will always belong to you, Russell and your huge brain.)

    Right. "Brain".

    Just kiddin' ya. I'm in agreement with your thesis, and wish that science / intelligence was more accepted as something everyone should celebrate. Additionally, I'm in complete agreement with your assessment of pop songs being, well, sterile. About how the portrayals of love in popular culture is very much in-a-vaccuum. I feel that this gives people (specifically teens) unrealistic expectations about what constitutes a healthy relationship. And this makes me sad. So I tell someone I think this, and they give me a blank look that falls somewhere between "what?" and "I don't care". Glad someone else sees things the way I do

  2. It's really nice to see someone else express romantic attraction to intelligence. I, too, was one of the rare teen girls who crushed on the smart guys, and Carl Sagan had it all, empathy, kindness, confidence, intelligence, and wonder.

    I am reading my thoughts in your writing; I have never heard another woman express these opinions.

  3. I have this very same nerd-crush right now. Why it took me so long, I don't know. Well, I've had a lot of others along the way... Neil deGrasse Tyson, Michio Kaku... and the original childhood infatuation: Bill Nye The Science Guy. Totally my boyfriends.

    Carl Sagan is like Space Jesus or something. LOVE him. Forever!

  4. Glad to see so many others also think he's hot. Yay for finding intelligence sexy!


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