Their April Fool’s joke, the headline of which prompted some outraged “reader” comments from Facebookers who insist that they DO read (or who blamed America’s lack of readers on various cultural failings…:
(Thanks to Redditor Tedbergstrand:)
Nassim Taleb talks references this in The Black Swan. He talks about Umbeto Eco’s “anti-library” and gives this anecdote:
“The writer Umberto Eco belongs to that small class of scholars who are encylopedic, insightful, and nondull. He is the owner of a large personal library (containing thirty thousand books), and separates visitors into two categories: those who react with “Wow! Signore professore dottore Eco, what a library you have! How many of these books have you read?” and the others – a very small minority – who get the point that a private library is not an ego-boosting appendage but a research tool. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones. The library should contain as much of what you do not know as your financial means, mortgage rates, and the currently tight read-estate market allows you to put there. You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary. We tend to treat our knowledge as personal property to be protected and defended. It is an ornament that allows us to rise in the pecking order. So this tendency to offend Eco’s library sensibility by focusing on the known is a human bias that extends to our mental operations. People don’t walk around with anti-resumes telling you what they have not studied or experienced (it’s the job of their competitors to do that), but it would be nice if they did. Just as we need to stand library logic on its head, we will work on standing knowledge itself on its head. Note that the Black Swan comes from our misunderstanding of the likelihood of surprises, those unread books, because we take what we know a little too seriously. Let us call this an antischolar – someone who focuses on the unread books, and makes an attempt not to treat his knowledge as a treasure, or even a possession, or even a self-esteem enhancement device – a skeptical empiricist.”
Terry Gilliam—former Monty Pythonite and the director of Time Bandits, Brazil and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas—calls it “the most romantic novel about love and family I have read. It made me ashamed to be so utterly normal.”
This article on Geek Love by Katherine Dunn is really charming. This book is weird as hell but also unbelievably beautiful and captivating. Read it, will ya?
Geek Love is the story of the Binewskis, a carny family whose mater- and paterfamilias set out–with the help of amphetamine, arsenic, and radioisotopes–to breed their own exhibit of human oddities. There’s Arturo the Aquaboy, who has flippers for limbs and a megalomaniac ambition worthy of Genghis Khan . . . Iphy and Elly, the lissome Siamese twins . . . albino hunchback Oly, and the outwardly normal Chick, whose mysterious gifts make him the family’s most precious–and dangerous–asset.
As the Binewskis take their act across the backwaters of the U.S., inspiring fanatical devotion and murderous revulsion; as its members conduct their own Machiavellian version of sibling rivalry, Geek Love throws its sulfurous light on our notions of the freakish and the normal, the beautiful and the ugly, the holy and the obscene. Family values will never be the same. -goodreads
“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was.”
So this is my favourite thing that ever happened. Martin Starr (of Freaks And Geeks, among other things) doing a dramatic recitation of one of James Joyce’s filthy letters to his wife Nora. I was guffawing at a couple of points.
Have you ever read Joyce’s collection of remarkably scatalogical letters? Well, as you may remember, I read them much younger than anyone would hope for their children, and it has always really informed my view of the man.
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
-Fire And Ice, Robert Frost
So cheerful, youse guys! Happy Obligation Day 2014.
It’s been a while, huh? I feel like I do this (“this”= no posts for 2-3 weeks at a time) sporadically and then treat it as though it’s unusual. Since I got my job back in October, it’s been really easy to get pulled away from Algonquin Side Table, and that breaks my heart a little. Because I love it here. The last couple of weeks have been intense, because on top of work stuff, I moved. Some of you have already heard The Story Of The Move; for the rest of you, just know that it was an emotionally exhausting weekend filled with magical surprises (shitty, magical surprises) and was very short notice, so I only had a couple of weeks to get my act together.
Living with Jeff is beyond fantastic, though, and we’re in the middle of trying to merge our book collections. Between us we had probably between 25-30 boxes of books, and we are incredibly particular about shelving processes… so although you can expect an extensive tour of my library, don’t expect it too soon. Here’s a sneak peek: we shelve according to perceived subgenre and what “feels right” next to each volume. Intuition is a slow way of putting things in a bookcase.
We also have the bedroom set up very simply– no shelving, no desks– and have instituted a No Computers In Bed policy. I can already feel better reading habits creeping back in (just finished The Rebel Bookseller, just started Raising Steam), and I fall asleep so much more easily that I feel like an idiot for falling asleep to the glow of a computer screen for so long.
I care a lot about blogging here, and enjoy it immensely. I have every intention of gettin’ back to it on the regular… life just gets in the way sometimes. The rest of this week will be spotty, but check back in on me next week to see if I have my shit together yet, okay?
“The reason that the rich were so rich, Vimes reasoned, was because they managed to spend less money.
Take boots, for example. He earned thirty-eight dollars a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost fifty dollars. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of OK for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about ten dollars. Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford fifty dollars had a pair of boots that’d still be keeping his feet dry in ten years’ time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet.
This was the Captain Samuel Vimes ‘Boots’ theory of socioeconomic unfairness.”
“It isn’t the big troubles in life that require character. Anybody can rise to a crisis and face a crushing tragedy with courage, but to meet the petty hazards of the day with a laugh – I really think that requires spirit.
It’s the kind of character that I am going to develop. I am going to pretend that all life is just a game which I must play as skillfully and fairly as I can. If I lose, I am going to shrug my shoulders and laugh – also if I win.”
One of my fave books of all time.