Tuesday, 7 November 2006
Know a book by its title

"'Finnegan's Wake' - more unreadable than the Koran? Discuss." -- from a reader

Finnegans Wake (no apostrophe) is much more interesting than the Qur'an. It's a good book to take to the gym. Dive in to Anna Livia Plurabelle, swim a few laps, and then emerge dripping but well-satisfied.

Your question --what book is even more boring than the Qur'an -- is a good one. I don't have a specific book in mind (save perhaps the collected works of our last 4-5 presidents, secretaries of state, defense, and so on) but a good guide is to find books that contain, in their titles, some dead-giveaway words and phrases.

Here are fifteen:

1. Organizational Development

2. International Community

3. Palestinian (id est, "Palestinian")

4. Diversity (except if the author is E. O. Wilson, or any other biologist writing on bio-diversity)

5. Youth (save in "Childhood, Boyhood, and Youth" by Leo Tolstoy)

6. Gender

7. Hegemony

8. Dynamics (as in "Dynamics of Political Opposition" but not as in engineering and physics textbooks)

9. Challenge (the "challenge" of anything)

10.Change (as in "To Change the World")

11.Society (save in R. H. Tawney's "The Acquisitive Society" and Galbraith's "The Affluent Society")

12. Constructing (and Re-Constructing) unless, again, it is a book written for engineers or boys with Lego sets

13. Identity (except, possibly, in Angus Wilson's "Cards of Identity")

14. Management (unless used outside the world of business-school-speak-and-write-and-think, as in "The Management of Dreams")

15. YOUR ENTRY HERE

Postscript: Addendum or prolegomenon to any future or past or present metaphysics:

"Agenbite of inwit" is one of the recurring phrases in Ulysses, not in Finnegans Wake.

Posted on 11/07/2006 5:02 PM by Hugh Fitzgerald
Comments
7 Nov 2006
Mary Jackson
Fifteen - that's a new one. These things don't usually come in fifteens.

15 is the name of Jamie Oliver's restaurant in Old Street, EC 1. Tasting menu to die for with wines to match. If I had the money I'd eat there every night.

What on earth is a prolegomenon?

7 Nov 2006
Send an emailHugh Fitzgerald
"What on earth is a prolegomenon?" It's all kinds of things.

It's a little boy in New Delhi asking his father (who just happens to be a Fabian Foreign Minister) in 1957 if he can please have a new Danish toy,a kind of erector set, for his birthday, knowing that Daddyji can never say no.

It's a Danish churchyard attendant who with the thoughts he's been thinkin' decides to order a dozen of these before he gets down to writing out any future metaphysics.

It's the ambitious student who is the first person to attend college in her entire family of heedless hapax legomena.

When I use a word, Humpty Dumpty said, it means whatever I want it to mean.

That's Lewis Carroll.

Wipe your glosses with what you know.

That's Mr. James Joyce.

8 Nov 2006
mark b
What's more boring than the Koran? Try the Book of Mormon sometime. There are also a passle of New Age scriptures that would knock you unconscious within a minute of perusal.