The Conscious Mind

15 Sep
Quality Literature available everywhere.

Quality Literature available everywhere.

Life is difficult.  In olden times people would lament the onset of winter, the lack of sunlight and icy winds would force villagers inside to slowly go mad from isolation and chill blaines. Their only source of comfort was storytelling, and it was in the darkest of storms that the old and  infirm became truly revered as tellers of tales, spinners of webs and architects of the wildest magic.

Now, we have Dan Brown.  Isn’t technology grand? I love being told what I love.

The thing I adore most about contemporary society is that nothing really means anything anymore. It’s all just signs and signifiers, and your truth is just as important as anybody elses. I know people say that reading is for everyone, and that reading promotes a rich inner life and yadda. Yadda. Yadda.  It’s a crock, and you know it. As long as Farmer Wants a Wife keeps getting made people will continue to keep a space next to their porcelain clowns for a biography of Max Walker/Elizabeth Taylor (substitute where appropriate) , something about girl in some foreign country they never got around to finishing and Bryce Courtney’s The Potato Factory. I once tried to use a copy to break open a walnut and by accident it whipped open and the paragraph that caught the corner of my vision fired lasers directly into my heart- which is why I now have arrhythmia and a propensity towards catholic sloth.

What makes it worse is the filthy apologists. Twilight has a lot of those too, but that’s a topic for another time. I have several friends who (and they are otherwise intelligent and reasonable people) when asked about Dan Brown will simply say something like “It’s just entertainment, what’s your fucking problem?”

My problem is that a lot of things qualify as entertainment. Tiddlywinks is entertainment.  Stuffing a balloon with Aspirin and confetti and feeding it to a seagull is entertainment. One of the few benefits of devoting your life to being a gigantic nerd is the pleasures of elitism, that warm fuzzy feeling you get in your shoulders when some naive fool you meet at a party wants to tell you about how well crafted Robert Langdon is as a character and all you have to do let out a brief sigh, chortle,  and turn away. A popular movement is gaining weight and speed, one that says that this sort of thing isn’t on anymore, and frankly, I don’t want to live in that world. If I can’t arbitrarily judge strangers based on the media they consume, what have I got left to live for?

I was going to write about the fact there are now two countdown shows on primetime television at exactly the same time but the sheer, overwhelming redundancy of the entire exercise made my teeth ache so now I’m drinking from a bottle of mescal with ‘worms are for lovers’ printed on the front. This is what you did television, I hope you are happy.

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6 Responses to “The Conscious Mind”

  1. ross71521 September 15, 2009 at 7:43 pm #

    I agree.

    That is all.

  2. Yak Boy September 16, 2009 at 5:03 am #

    I read both of the previous Robert Langdon books, and chortled the whole way through at the massive number of factual errors and internal logic inconsistencies.

    I fully intend to do the same with the third.

    Quelle horreur!

    Am I a strange hybrid in that I can recognise Dan Brown’s work for the enormous pile of horseshit that it is *and* enjoy it as a cracking read?

    Or am I just as bad as the mouth-breathers who lined up to buy the “Da Vinci Code Companion” to find out the *real* truth?

    More to the point, do I really care about the opinion of someone who laments the state of TV in the age of bittorrent and HBO?

    • liamjordan September 16, 2009 at 7:10 am #

      The last I checked HBO was a tv station (and as an Australian one I don’t have access to) and until the glorious future where everyone has cheap broadband that will allow you to download everything you want television still matters.

      I understand the appeal of trashy books but by your own admission you land squarely in the arms of the apologists. My question to you is- why bother?

      • Yak Boy September 16, 2009 at 8:30 am #

        I’m an Australian too, and broadband is, IMO, cheap enough and available enough that you can watch plenty of good stuff, without having to rely on the nonsense served up by the crappy free-to-air cartel… provided you don’t mind risking (hypothetical) prison and/or outrageous fines. No Aussie consumer has suffered any such penalties, as far as I know.

        Sorry for not having a better answer to that question than that it’s entertaining. Not all entertainment needs to be high-brow. I love Leo Tolstoy, I love Dan Brown. I love The Wire, I love Survivor. I love caviar and vintage champagne, I love Quarter Pounders and Coca-Cola.

        I honestly think it would be a sadder world with all of the former and none of the latter.

    • liamjordan September 16, 2009 at 9:14 am #

      I by no means want to get rid of everything that’s easy or low brow. I’m a big fan of Jasper Fforde who writes clever and entertaining novels with a lot of wit and careful plotting- which is a lot more than I can say for Dan Brown.

      Perhaps you have access to ADSL2 or a good cable provider (which, as I am currently on the wrong side of the road, do not) but my capacity to sit on my arse and watch television far outweighs the meagre bandwith capacity I am allowed.Although this is really more my fault than any system.

  3. richard September 16, 2009 at 8:34 am #

    Harry Potter has a lot of those apologists and I’ve never understood it.

    “All the plot twists are predictable and corny, the setting is cliched and stupid, and the characters are bland and uninteresting.”
    “Yes, but it’s a children’s book.”

    I have never understood how people can act as if belonging to some particular class of fiction somehow excuses things from being -bad- fiction. The only legitimate excuse for crap writing is parody.

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