Saturday, December 16, 2006

Another one of those "woe is me!" cultural "decline" posts

Bronteana informed me of this link: It's the thoughts that count. After staring in horror and disbelief, I began to wonder how bad this really is. On the one hand, yes, it's utterly disgusting; on the other hand, it's probably good for business. The article emphasizes the sciences, but I wouldn't be surprised if good dead Classical languages are up there too. If people are buying "smart"-looking books, that means there's a market for them. If there's a market for them, that means they'll be made available.

Then again, if too many people are stealing up the books I want and making them unavailable instead, I'd be pretty pissed.

It used to be if you wanted to "look" educated, you'd actually--gasp!--get an education and, y'know, read so that you could rattle off useless information in conversations. I guess now you can just buy the books and not be expected to be able to discuss them.

But it seems pretty transparent to me. If I walk in to somebody's house and see certain books prominantly displayed, I ask them about them. If the person can't answer, then s/he's revealed as the shallow being s/he is.

It reminds me of those Latin tattoos people (who don't known Latin) get, though. Why get it if you have no real interest in it? Why pretend to be a snobbish intellectual if you're not? Frankly, I have a lot more respect for people who actively despise and fight against academics because we're (supposedly) all snobby and elitist. They may be wrong about (some of) us, but at least they're honest.

Then again, this isn't exactly a new phenomenon among humans, now is it?


Anonymous Marcus said...

Strange, I always found that one of the reasons for my, sometimes, lazy or rather unfocused studying efforts was a lack of competition from my peers.

As I see it the only way to maintain and improve standards is to insert a little competition back in and make it stick for getting good jobs and all. If the emphasis is on conformity and being a team player you will only get this kind of stuff.

5:51 AM  
Anonymous Will Robey said...

I did once meet a woman who had "mens sana in corpore sana" tatooed on her arm. I informed her of the gender mix-up and she seemed only mildly annoyed.

12:36 AM  
Blogger wackyvorlon said...

The books by the foot idea is intriguing. If you bought fifty feet of classics books, wouldn't you love to unpack those boxes? You'd never what treasures where waiting.

7:09 AM  
Anonymous Bistroist said...

Then again, this isn't exactly a new phenomenon among humans, now is it?

Not at all. It's been a well known phenomenon at least around these parts of Northern Europe for decades. (Primarily) American hotel chains, eg., buying up anything that's leatherbound 'by the foot' from book sales and antiquarians, regardless of language or content, to give their lounges a touch of class.

6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh get over yourselves. So what if someone wants to decorate with books. You all know that anyone buying a "Three Quarter Morocan Leather Edition in Fine Condition with Gold Gilt Spine and Pages with Marbled Boards and BLAH BLAH BLAH" is buying that book at least as much for its looks as its contents. Not mention that if you even touch a certain rare edition without cotton gloves you are looked as insane by many collectors, imagine if you tried to read the darn thing, you'd likely be beaten by a book worm. The books we buy to read are paper backs. That way if it ends up floating in the tub because you fell asleep you are not out a whole weeks pay. There is nothing wrong with decorating with books, if there was, they wouldn't make them so darn decorative! The age of fine book binding is for the most part passed. But don't kid youselves into to thinking those bindings were anything less than decoration and status symbols. If there was never a market for books as decor, they never would have been made that way to begin with and this conversation would not come up. Anyone who says they aren't pleased with the look of their antiquarian book collection is flat out lying and I'd bet that most of those books are never read again once purchased.

On an unrelated note, most of you would disagree with me probably drink bottled water and are upset about global warming. Just keep in mind that each year 20,000 metric tons of those bottles end up in land fill. Also 40% of all bottled water is tap water. 70% of all bottled water has more lead, arcenic and chlorine than tap water. For the cost of one up scale litre of bottled water you can get 1500 gallons of municipal water, and no fosil fuels were burned getting it here from Franc, Fiji or Norway. People who think too much and still end up stupid are just plain fun to have around.

3:14 AM  
Blogger Glaukôpis said...

The point is, if you're going to have them for the Shiny aspect, you might as well know their inner contents as well. Most collectors of old books would. And while they hopefully wouldn't be reading them in the bathtub, early and rare editions can often be informative of manuscript changes (and thus useful to some).

What baffles me is not that people want books to look nice; it's that it seems to me it would be far more embarassing to decorate like a snobby intellectual and then have someone call you out on it when they start actually discussing your decorative books. What's the point in pretending to be something your not?

Of course, I guess we can always go back to "don't judge a book by its cover." :-P

You also make very odd assumptions about books and bottled water. Were you just searching for something to rant about?

7:13 AM  

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