I may like writing psuedo academic papers, and enjoy the ego kicks that take place when I present at conferences and meet people who say nice things about me. Then there's also the creativity involved in trying to find nice things to say about other people and their work. Not that other people don't have nice work, but just how do you say something they haven't heard, about a trillion and a half times before.
(The most interesting, and probably honest nice thing anyone ever said to me about one of my papers, was what this one woman said after we presented on a panel together. I went last, and after we were done and the QandA was done, she came over to me and said, "thank you, I really enjoyed your paper. But now I'm going to have to re-write mine. The way you explained ideology, it changes everything in my paper.")
So alot of times, when my head is bursting trying to come up with something to say to someone I've met at a conference, I lose my basic social understandings, which aren't that much to begin with, but sometimes just all evaporate away. So at a conference I was at a few weeks ago, I meet someone interesting, we're talking, I learn that the person studied under Frederic Jameson at Duke. I'm usually very dense when it comes to the names I'm supposed to know, so I don't know all the names I'm supposed to in Cultural Studies, Ethnic Studies, American Studies and whatever. But in this instance, I had heard of Frederic Jameson, but didn't know much about him. So after hearing this, I responded, "oh wow, he's very famous."
The people in this conversation were very impressed, but in a negative way, and didn't do much talking to me for the rest of the day. I guess when someone is as famous as Frederic Jameson, then you're supposed to say that he is "brillant" or "incredible" or "new and improved, with less spillage." I think next time, if I don't actually know anything about someone's work, then I'll just pretend not to know who they are.
"Oh, Frederic Jameson. Wow, who's that?"