Books and bad habits
I read alot but my habits have slipped downhill a lot in the past few years. I am reminded of this when I read Roxanne's resolution to read one book a week. I thought, arrogantly as I lit my pipe, "By god, I read a lot more than that."
Then I checked out her list. And I was humbled. And forced to make a joke about Dave Barry to compensate.
On one hand, I could be honest and point out that I have read things like Dante and whatnot. But as a general rule, I don't crack open the ol' Dante for pleasurable reading now that I'm out of college. Not that I think my brainpower has slipped or anything, but I tend to get interrupted more than I used to so high level concentration just isn't my thing. Or that's my excuse anyway.
See, the last book I read took me a day to read, but it was the latest David Sedaris book and it was hysterical and a real page-turner. On my list of books to read are a book of interviews with punk rockers, a book about girl groups, a pulp art heavy history of teenagers and probably George Lakoff's new book when it comes to the library. Nothing heavy.
It's like that with me and movies. Once in awhile, I fall back into my old habit of watching deep and important films. Some I'll still watch in a minute. But mostly I still go for brainless fluff or TV shows that manage to tax my mind a little without making me anxious. (See lists below.)
I'm not a thoughtless turd. I still think I'm bright and with it. I had a conversation a few months ago with a friend who drunkenly told me that I am sort of amusing because I apparently make like I'm some punk rock chick but deep down inside I'm really bright and educated and I just told him that I didn't really think the two were opposites or anything. He was mildly humbled and corrected himself, but I knew what he meant.
I told him I disapprove of the division between high and low art. But obviously, the distinction still stings or I wouldn't have a post like this. But I did quote the Ramones to make my point, and it was pretty funny. So it's very confusing.
I'm stung by snobbiness. By no means do I think Rox is a snob, because true rejection of snobbiness would mean embracing high and low art without double-checking it or anything. I am acutely aware that many aspiring and educated people I know have sneered at me for having my rock music habits. And many of my good friends who didn't study what I did in college or didn't go at all sometimes worry that I think I'm better or something lame like that. The worst is people who come from the snotty, educated background but like to hang out with a sort of wide-eyed wonder at how cool they are being by being near the rock and roll, what they perceive as thuggish types that are many of my friends. Or, to put it more succiently, they're slumming.
Over dinner some friends and I had a discussion, started by a friend who teaches elementary school, about the nature of intelligence. The group at the table had varying degrees of education and varying relationships to reading books and whatnot. But it was generally agreed that intelligence is a combination of natural ability and education and that it's hard to measure because one person's stupid is another's bright. My boyfriend and I don't read the same stuff at all, and his magazines on motorcycles and bass playing sound like pure goobledy-gook to me. He can read my academic tomes just fine, but they bore the shit out of him. Who's smarter?
The teacher brought up a perfect example. She has a truly bilingual student, raised by a parent who speaks nothing but French and another who speaks nothing but English. His spelling sucks, but he's her best reader in the class. Is he smart? I say yes.
Long, rambling post and by no means am I picking on Roxanne. In fact, my point is why do we feel so damn threatened by the taste of others that even without being snobbed at, we get all defensive? Why is this so damn important?