Time’s Top Ten

I don’t know if this is copyrighted or not (i’ll just assume not) but I found this list on Time Magazine that tries to identify the top 10 books of all time! “Top 10?”… please! Truth be told, such a statement is so trite and overused, that if our ears had spam filters, they would be lodged in there right after the words “Top 10”. But after reading the essay that precedes Time’s little pronouncement, and being charmfully beguiled by their clever writing, I’m actually quite impressed with the list. If you swap ‘1’ with ‘3’, and ‘2’ with ‘6’, I think it’s spot-on–at least the first 7. I’ve never read 8,9,10 — but who can argue with Time?

  1. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  2. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  3. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  4. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  6. Hamlet by William Shakespeare
  7. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
  8. In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
  9. The Stories of Anton Chekhov by Anton Chekhov
  10. Middlemarch by George Eliot


Do(n’t) read The Kite Runner

My cousin had suggested I read the Kite Runner, ensuring that I particularly would like it. I’m not sure what she meant by me particularly, but I really did enjoy it, and I think anyone that reads it would. Granted, I’m somewhat of a sap, as in, I don’t deal with sad stories very well (don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil any of this book), but this book, at the risk of sounding clique — which at times can’t be helped — this book is really great.

I know what you’re thinking. “Great. Great. Great. Great. Every book seems to be ‘Great'”, and of course, if you sat down and wanted to read every book that the New York Times, or some idiot in a blog (like me), claimed was “great”, you’d have to forfeit your job, or any other interests you might pretend to have, and spend the rest of your life reading. The problem, I think, is with tastes.

You realize, the ancients, the people of old, the people with bad teeth, long beards, wearing white robes while surreptitiously passing gas; these same people loved to arugue and put on airs of profound pontification. I’m talking about the ones responsible for phrases like “I think therefore I am”, which I’m certain I could have come up with had I the time and the gross unemployment. However, even these people recognized the futility of arguing against tastes: des gustibus non disputandam est. There’s no disputing taste.

So, if we’re to logically break this down, logic being the Skelton of philosophy, we end up with this conclusion:

Starting with an objective premise:

P1: You can’t Dispute Taste
P2: Which Implies: someone’s feelings on taste can never be wrong
P3: And equally, someone’s feelings on taste can never be right
P4: Since it is true, that taste can never be right, you shouldn’t listen to someone’s tastes

C: Therefore, don’t read anything anyone tells you is “great”. And, Reading Rainbow is a complete crock: “But don’t take my word for it”, what a bunch of balony.

So, don’t read The Kite Runner. Although, I’ll tell ya, it is a great book.

Melting Pot … so Ol’School

A high school History teacher once told me that he found the metaphor “Melting Pot”, which is commonly used to describe the ethnic diversity in the United States, as dated and imprecise. Of course he was right to say it is “dated”, in truth, seriously, where can you buy a Melting Pot? And as such, to new-fledged history students, is it really a good metaphor when you have to explain at it at both ends: starting from “what is a Melting Pot?”, and from then to “so, what is this supposed to represent?”. Instead, and in keeping with the gustatory theme, this same teacher came up with his own metaphor (he ‘claims’ authorship), “the salad” . A salad, unlike a Melting Pot, is a single entity composed of various vegetables that maintain their own individual identity. As a whole, there is unity, yet still the essence of each vegetable and their unique taste, as well as their respective identities are not homogenized into one completely new substance.

But as we are all well aware, metaphors of salads, or pots that are melting, look great in theory, but in practice things are not always so “peachy”. In fact, with a salad, nothing is ever “peachy” (and purists will adamantly avouch that fruits have really no place in salads). A salad doesn’t accurately portray the tense and complex soci-economic class contentions taking place in reality. Alright then, no Melting Pot, no Salad. What then is a better metaphor, or is there one? … Taco Salad?

Je m’ennuie

I need a new hobby. I don’t think I’ve ever been so bored in my life.

In the last few months I’ve been trying to pinpoint the source sucking all my cheer. It’s not my job. I love my job (they pay me to say that). Class is okay; it keeps me somewhat busy and it’s nice to have around. And truly ‘class‘ is by far the best excuse to get out of anything. In fact when coupled with the right body-language, it’s almost effortless to use:

“What’s that? Elizabeth’s getting baptized next Friday? ow, um… ‘class’.” (feign regret)

“Stay late today? Sure! Oh wait, I can’t … ‘class’” (feign bad memory)

Potent little word—it’s like casting a spell.

Anyway, back to my topic, my nice, depressing topic.

I’ve tried exercise, particularly running. Which, I’ll have you know, I’m still doing. However, it’s now become something I do out of habit rather than something I actually want to do. Like today, it was unseasonably warm out, so when someone mentioned the weather, I involuntarily add, “this would be a great day to go jogging”.

I tried video games for a while, but that’s ultimately a lavish waste of time. Some role-playing games actually keep a running clock of your playing time. When I beat Paper Mario a few months ago, the game told me I’ve been playing for 40 hours. And I really have nothing to show for it—aside from some perfected finger movements. And when you beat a game, although you think you’ve accomplished something, you really haven’t—like it’s something you can brag to your friends about. But uh, yeah, no one cares.

Well, I’m going to keep thinking. I’ll come up with something. No need to plan the intervention just yet!