10*By Caleb Stegall for FRONT PORCH REPUBLIC
Now that the admission of blogger taint is clearly in the open, one may as well go the full bathos and in mock-heroic register harmonized with a hint of too-earnest self-congratulatory tone, produce one’s own list (all while calling oneself “one”). FPR contributors and commenters are free to offer their own judgments and/or lists. Maybe it will ease the ecumenical tension!
The obligatory, “in no order” applies (Bramwell clearly missed a prime target for mockery here, as the act of ranking is clearly too gauche for one compiling a top ten list– Who do you think I am, David Letterman!?):
1. Eliot, 4Q
2. Voegelin, Order and History
3. Rabelais, Gargantua & Pantagruel
4. Milton, Paradise Lost
5. God, The Bible
6. Augustine, Confessions
7. Thoreau, Walden / Whitman, Leaves
8. Shuger, Habits of Thought in the English Renaissance
9. Saint Exupery, The Little Prince
10. Adams, Watership Down
Bramwell’s categories are good, but he fails to identify the overall strategic goal of such lists is to make the reader think, “This blogger is so interesting that I am going to waste many of my precious few hours of life reading his blog!” The rest is just tactics. In this, blogging may be the equivalent of a first date for ugly people.
To the categories:
1. “I admit that I was pretty silly at age 18.” Here I keep the reader guessing. Is The Bible intended to fulfill this requirement, or not? Mystery generates interest, hence, high score. Thoreau and Whitman rate well here too, especially because the list is silent on whether I read them before or after watching Dead Poet’s Society. More mystery.
2. “My interests are more diverse than you know.” Here the list fails. Diversity is overrated though, and readers know this in their heart of hearts, so won’t hold failure here against the strategic goal of generating blog hits.
3. “I have read deeply enough in the Western Canon to consider the Great Books my friends.” Rabelais scores well here–obscure canonical presence and farting together in one place. Milton and Augustine, only so-so. Eliot doesn’t count.
4. “I am not afraid to defend a book that you may hate.” The Bible is a brilliant choice here. Religious intellectuals are a dime a dozen and are boring. Listing the Bible suggests boldness combined with unexplored depths.
5. “I may have my biases, but I have still read and learned from the other side.” Flunk. This list suggests very little capacity for learning anything. On the other hand, it does have the virtue of treating reading like a diversionary activity, which it surely is. Gutsy move when one’s goal is suckering in readers. Will it work? Let the hit-counter be the judge.
6. “I have a well-formed coherent worldview.” Again, this list keeps the reader guessing, which is the surest means to drawing him or her further in.
7. “Gosh, I sure was precocious as a kid!” The Little Prince is the perfect pick here. The Little Prince is irresistibly cute, yet written by a Frenchman. Precocious indeed!
8. “I’ve got some serious candlepower in here.” Voegelin seems at first like a winner here, however, it fails miserably because no one really believes anyone can understand EV.
9. “There’s no way the rest of you guys have read anything as obscure as this.” Shuger is my entrant in this category, and I’m guessing it’s a good one, but doesn’t score top marks because the title hints to the reader that the book deserves to be obscure.
10. “I may be highly literate but I’m not an intellectual snob.” My score is off the charts in this category. I can’t imagine any book scoring so high in both the snob and anti-snob category as Watership Down. What is more snobbish than a children’s story about bunnies that purports to be an allegory about the evils of communism and national socialism? On the other hand, what could be more anti-snob than openly identifying one’s reading tastes with those of James Ford, a/k/a, Sawyer from “ABC’s Lost”?
* I admit, the title to this post is a trick designed to get Peters to click through in hopes of seeing Dudley Moore frolicking on a beach.