Archive for the ‘elitist snobbery’ Category
1. Icelandic Sagas, especially the Grettis Saga. I admit I was pretty silly at age 18, but the tales are engaging and show how people can live and prosper in essentially stateless societies.
2. Proust, Recherche des Temps Perdu. For the account of interior life. Vastly superior in the original French.
3. Spinoza, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus. It was after reading this that I realized the great books were becoming my friends.
4. Herbert Spencer, Social Statics. Ideas don’t always imply what you may think. Spencer’s premises are so close to those of Darwin and Marx yet his reasoning leads to very different conclusions.
5. Michel Foucault, The Order of Things. Everyone reads Discipline and Punish but Foucault’s best insights are found here.
6.Douglas Hofstader, Gödel, Escher, Bach. I would have got more out of this had I finished high school math first.
7. Roger Penrose, The Emperor’s New Mind. Thought-provoking but in the end I was not convinced.
8. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The British Campaign in France and Flanders: 1914. All his war journalism is excellent, however in this book above all one gets the sense that Conan Doyle wants to tell the story of a few heroic characters but is unable to do so as they keep dying too quickly. Just as the Great War challenged ideas of what military conflict meant, so too did it challenge conventional ideas of heroism and narrative.
9. Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash. For the internet, for the microstates, for the Babylonian-Pentecostal mind control, but most of all for reshaping my idea of what protagonists could be named.
I’ve only even read the last two. Some of the others are on the to-read list, especially GEB.
Do check out the link though, the idea is hilarious.
I’ve always heard that people all over the world love our culture, and hate us for our foreign policy; the implication when people say this is usually something like ‘the rest of the world is right; our foreign policy is terrible and our culture is great’.
I’ve always thought that American foreign policy, in spite of its very numerous shortcomings, rarely deserves the sort of rich, deep hate people manage so often to conjure up about it.
But I had also believed that American culture was as great as the rest of the world is supposed to think it is.
In a way this is true; there are many wonderful facets of our culture, truly great music and literature and film.
Unfortunately, these aren’t the things that other people love about our culture. They like films that speak the universal languages of sex and big explosions. They love celebrities.
Most of all, they like club music.
I’ve heard more American hip-hop and rap in a month and a half around French teenagers than I did in two years in college in the US.
It’s as if the rest of the world can only reach the golden streets of American culture by crawling though or gutters.