It looks like I have been infected by one of those chain-post blog thingies, courtesy of the Hon. J. Skelly Wright. What the heck, I'll play, looks like fun:
You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?
I read that book a long time ago (for the convenience of this blog's European readers, that would be Celsius 232,7), but if I recall this means that I get burned, right? So is this supposed to be a book that I dislike? Or am I supposed to stretch my imagination and consider that I would want to be burned?
Maybe it is better to consider the question as asking what book I respect enough to take the effort of saving it from burning. In that case it would have to be Mumbo Jumbo by Ishmael Reed, because it does the most to explain what makes contemporary cultures hostile to culture in general, and how that relates to pleasure. I think.
Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
Way back in my undergraduate days everyone in the seminar had a crush on Molly Bloom! But that may be unavoidable. Also the professor was of the "erotics of the text" school, heavy going for a bunch of recent postadolescents trying to look smart. But even with the benefit of hindsight, Molly Bloom remains Molly Bloom.
The last book you bought is?
I'm a little ashamed here, but my excuse is that I was looking for something current and popular to use in "Sociology of Culture," for which I often mine the cheesy NY Times bestsellers lists, figuring that it is better to pander than to be frustrated. It was Jihad vs McWorld by Benjamin Barber. The guy's heart is probably in the right place, but I didn't like it. First of all, these "explain the whole world" books always run into the problem of having so wide a scope that they do not get the facts right. Second, even though Barber goes around trying to minimise the effect, I remain offended by the way he uses the term jihad, which is close to the popular journalism usage and has nothing to do with the way that most Muslims understand the meaning of the word.
What are you currently reading?
Atentat na Zorana by Milos Vasic. This is the book that everyone was talking about during our visit to Belgrade last week, and we brought back multiple copies because it is what everyone gave us as gifts for their relatives. It is an effort to recount the murder of Zoran Djindjic, its causes and the responses to it, by tracing the ways in which an alliance between security services and organised crime came to occupy the state then tried to make this occupation permanent. Good stuff. I'm also carrying with me a copy of Snow by Orhan Pamuk, which a student was kind enough to give me as a gift, but much to my regret I haven't got to it yet.
Five books you would take to a deserted island:
I haven't got any novels here, even though I like them, but then I rarely read them twice.
1. How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. What can I say, it is the family bible. Mark Bittman's general idea is to develop recipes that look impressive but do not involve inordinate amounts of work, and this is an idea that translates well to all spheres of life.
2. A Grammar of Motives and A Rhetoric of Motives by Kenneth Burke, because they have been sitting in my "must read soon" pile for well over a decade.
3. A good Indian cookbook, because there comes many a day when I wish I had a good Indian cookbook. But I never buy them because here where I live there are lots of good Indian restaurants.
4. Economy and Society by Max Weber, because you never know when you will need to find a good Weber quote. He has also rarely been surpassed in terms of theory, especially if you consider theory a set of propositions that leads to the development of new ideas, whether these propositions turn out to be true or not.
5. A phone book. Definitely a phone book.
Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?
Quod, because I really want to see what she will say.
The Prairie sociologists, because the heartland must be heard.
Bora Coturnix, because he always seems to find fascinating things I have never heard of.