Plugging the holes in a spotty education.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Ground Rules, Double

Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe. – H. G. Wells

Education, n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding. – Ambrose Bierce

Good quotations, huh? Pithy, that’s what they are. I got them out of a book of quotations. I didn’t know them from their source material. But as Churchill said, “It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations.”

I wonder if that quote helps move copies.

‘Classic.’ A book which people praise and don’t read. – Mark Twain

I don’t necessarily think of myself as an uneducated man. I know, for instance, that Moby Dick is by Herman Melville, it’s about a whale, and that Homer Simpson is incorrect when he says that the moral of the book is “Be yourself.”

But I haven’t read Moby Dick. Nor have I attempted a great many other of the classics. I am not proud of this fact. It is one I would very much like to change.

Thus, Shame-Faced was born.

The proper study of mankind is books. – Aldous Huxley

It’s a bit of received wisdom that the first step toward solving a problem is admitting that you have one. All right. In this blog, I will admit which of the world’s great books I haven’t read by actually reading them. So will the lovely and talented Rosemarie, devoted pseudo-intellectual and former Jeopardy! contestant. We’ll suggest titles to each other, maybe tackle the same ones together, have a few laughs along the way.

If we don’t like a book, we’ll be honest about it. In the words of E. M. Forster, “Long books, when read, are usually overpraised, because the reader wishes to convince others and himself that he has not wasted his time.”

I haven’t read any Forster, either. Damn. Should probably add him to the list.

Speaking of the list, it won’t be all broccoli; popular authors that we’ve somehow missed will be on it as well. And it won’t be all books, either.

There is only one thing that can kill the Movies, and that is education. – Will Rogers

There are plenty of well-known movies, high and low, that one or both of us have managed to get this far without seeing. (Here’s a Shame-Faced Admission™ for you: I just watched Gone With The Wind for the first time last year. What can I say? I thought it was a chick flick.)

Not to mention certain legendary TV series. Any work of art or culture that we’ve been faking familiarity with for years is fair game. Maybe by the time we’re done, Rosemarie and I will have become the learned, well-rounded individuals we have always pretended to be.

But I kind of doubt it.


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