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Gems from Michael

I am still trying to recover from yesterday’s post (actually just a link) to Michael Blowhard’s list of links. I had read several of these essays before (although not with the utmost attention) and I had the chance to read new essays and revisit old ones. I’ve been wonderfully entertained and feel compelled to share some favorite quotes:

Some writers, I’ve found, get some of their energy from their naivete. And is learning the simple truth guaranteed to do anyone any good anyway? The other day, for instance, I heard about a published novelist who attended her first Book Expo and was so traumatized by the experience that she wasn’t able to write again for another year. Then again, was the world any worse off?

How long can you go on pretending that hypertext is going to revolutionize the world? Like you, I always found it amazing that some people seemed to think that we needed to be set free from authorial authority, as though authorial authority was responsible for disease in Africa or poverty in Asia. What were they thinking? More practically, presented with one of these “put it together yourself” works — I don’t mind that the genre exists, this is just my usual reaction to it — I tend to feel like someone who’s gone to a restaurant, has ordered dinner, and is given a tray full of ingrediants, and is told to put it together for himself. I go to a restaurant to be served a meal, darn it.

Aaron Haspel on intelligent people sounding stupid (the article and the comments are great too!). :

There’s a similar anecdote about Hegel. Some countess was sitting next to Felix Mendelssohn at a dinner party and says, behind her napkin, “Who is that remarkably stupid man sitting to my left?” “That remarkably stupid man,” Mendelssohn replies, “is the philosopher Hegel.”

Yahmdallah writes on the same thread about high culture and low culture:

Siskel (the late, great) openly reviewed films as someone who had seen hundreds of films and was a sophisticate in the area. His tastes and preferences, therefore, ran to the new and the unique things he’d never seen before, regardless sometimes of the quality of the film as stand-alone event unto itself. And sometimes he gave perfectly good films a middling or bad review simply because he had seen something like it before. Ebert, on the other hand, reviews each film (usually) on its own merit, and typically outside of the context of ever having seen another film. In other words, Ebert reviews for the newbie (the innocent) as well as the sophisticate, and Siskel reviewed for the old crowd who had seen everything else already. Both served a useful purpose, but I think that Ebert would have a better chance of determining what would eventually become a classic and what wouldn’t, simply due to his approach.

Rushie and Morrison write for the Siskels of the world, and King and Rowling write for the Eberts. Thus, Rushdie and Morrison only belong in the canon for the literary snobs who want to feel superior for all their accumulated knowledge, while King and Rowling belong in the canon for the true reader and lover of stories.

Update: Just realized that there’s a Best of Michael page that links to things like why women fixate on baked goods:

Heres my theory: Women identify with baked goods. (Before laughing too hard, consider the fact that women obviously identify with flowers. Why not with food?) How so? Well, baked goods… Theres often a sponginess there. Theres often sweetness, juiciness and chewiness: nurturance. Theres the skin or crust, and lets not forget the yeast. Brooding, gestating, fluffing up and settling down, keeping the flesh and the mood plump, fresh and appealing: Baked goods as metaphor and mirror for womens flesh and their emotional nature — which, lets face it, are very different than male flesh and male moods.

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