“It was a full Sharing-Water of all the Nest, as you grok—you were there. Mike woke up for it . . . and grokked with you and kept us all together.”
Computer geeks have grokked that grok is the best word to describe their self-styled mastery of coding, and not just mastery, but as Michael Valentine Smith might have said, “I grok you, Jubal.” The implication being that to grok means to fully take in and become one with Linix.
In the Heinlein novel, from whence came “grok” and Michael Valentine Smith, the word is understood instantly by the Terran humans who befriend Mike. Jill, Jubal and the others insert it into the English lexicon with ease. It’s quite understandable that the word has floated into wide usage in the Land of Tech.
I am amused to see this word embedded into blogs, forums, and You-tube training videos. As one of the Baby-boom (I wish we had a cooler name for our generation. Millennials are so lucky!) readers of Stranger in a Strange Land a few years after its release in 1961 I was quite familiar with the word; it came into our rebellious, weed-fogged vocabulary of the era. I too, as were others, was “blown away” by the philosophically spiritual freshness of grok, discorporation, water-brother and even the Martian definition of “food”. I’d never heard of Robert A. Heinlein before this. My introduction to science fiction was via Ray Bradbury and Ron Serling and the Space Cat books.
Interpretation of the book varied widely, from critics who described it as a “disastrous mish mash” to critics celebrating the comic aspects. To us it was a bible, a personal guide to the spiritual journey, along with Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha and mescaline.
Heinlein was pleased.
“I was not giving answers. I was trying to shake the reader loose from some preconceptions and induce him to think for himself, along new and fresh lines. In consequence, each reader gets something different out of that book because he himself supplies the answers … It is an invitation to think – not to believe.”