Wednesday, April 06, 2005


Meme alert

Sorry for the dearth of new posts. The muse and I have been going through a real rough spot lately. I give you, therefore, a meme, passed to me by Rob.

You’re stuck inside Fahrenheit 451. Which book do you want to be? There's another meme going around about books you're embarrassed not to have read. Fahrenheit 451 is one of mine, so I'm unsure what this question is getting at. I take it that books don't fare well in Fahrenheit: should the question read, "Which sadomasichistic book do you want to be?" I guess I'll pick The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene. If I'm going to be a martyred book, I might as well be a book about a martyr who deeply feels his own unworthiness.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character? I'm drawing a blank here (told you the muse had left me), but since it's just a yes or no question, I'm going to guess "yes."

The last book you bought is? Sean Wilentz, Chants Democratic. Now don't rush to judgment about Hopkins' history program. I did read this a couple of years ago for my qualifying exams. But it was time to own my own copy and, er, give it a closer reading.

What are you currently reading? Among other things, E. M. Forster's A Passage to India.

Five books you would take to a deserted island? I was really sweating this one until I realized that the question doesn't say I'll be stranded on the deserted island. So I'm going to interpret this loosely as, "Which five books would you take on a vacation to a deserted tropical paradise?" I'll pick, in no particular order: a Horace Rumpole omnibus by John Mortimer, Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (the very worthy winner of the Pulitzer and the National Book Award this year), and three books I currently would like to read: Collected Works of Flannery O'Connor (received as Christmas present but still unopened), the rest of W. H. Auden's Forewords and Afterwords (a bedstand book right now that only gets a few pages at a time), and selections from Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics (to further my amateurish self-education in theology). All of this is premised, of course, on the assumption that I would be forced to take books with me to a tropical paradise: I can think of other things I'd rather do on such a vacation than sit on the beach and have passers-by kick copies of Barth at me (hat tip: Robin Williams in Dead Poet's Society, paraphrased).

Who are you going to pass this to (three persons) and why? Tony at Storyteller's World, so he'll have something to distract himself with after returning from his retreat, Kristen, because I think she might take Gilead to a deserted island too, and Rob MacDougall, because he posts even less often than I do.

Collective Improvisation:
At the end of Fahrenheit 451 , the main character discovers a community of people who save books by each memorizing a few and passing them on to others. In other words, they save books by becoming them. So the question, I take it, is asking: If all (physical) books were destroyed, and you were part of the community trying to preserve the (content of the) books, which book would you want to be entrusted with memorizing and passing on?

On the other hand, it's obviously an ambiguous question, since I've seen people who've read the book interpret it as you do; and under that interpretation, you have a good answer. 

Posted by Brandon Watson

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous on 4/07/2005 02:43:00 AM : Permalink  

Thanks for the clarification, Brandon. I guess either way, I would still choose The Power and the Glory , since it also could be read as a book about resistance to authoritarian mind control. 

Posted by Caleb

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous on 4/08/2005 08:47:00 AM : Permalink  

Heh. Who's gonna kick Barth at you on a deserted  island, you idiot? 

Posted by Bizarro Caleb

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous on 4/08/2005 08:48:00 AM : Permalink  

Didn't actually need distracting, as plenty of stuff had backed up here to keep me well occupied since re-entry. But thanks for the opportunity! 

Posted by Tony

Posted by Anonymous Anonymous on 4/12/2005 05:03:00 AM : Permalink  

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