Thursday, August 21, 2008

People only buy newspapers for the puzzles

Wherein a link to what may be my favorite Rosenbaum column: Shoplift Lit: You Are What You Steal even though the Charles Portis novels I read didn't impress me I'm still highly interested in reading some other books on his list especially "Sot-Weed Factor" and "The Dick Gibson Show"
 

What Ron Rosenbaum hates is for people sitting alone playing with themselves:
 
What always gets to me is the self-congratulatory assumption on the part of puzzle people that their addiction to the useless habit somehow proves they are smarter or more literate than the rest of us. Need I suggest that those who spend time doing crossword puzzles (or sudoku)—uselessly filling empty boxes (a metaphor for some emptiness in their lives?)—could be doing something else that involves words and letters? It's called reading.
 
But somehow crossword types think that their addiction to this sad form of mental self-abuse somehow makes them "literary." Sorry: Doing puzzles reflects not an elevated literary sensibility but a degraded letter-ary sensibility, one that demonstrates an inability to find pleasure in reading. Otherwise, why choose the wan, sterile satisfactions of crosswords over the far more robust full-blooded pleasures of books?
 
But, again, let's try to take seriously the self-image of puzzle people as brainiacs. (Come on, try!) Isn't it a tragedy, then, a criminal shame, that all their amazing brainpower gets wasted on word games? If they're as smart as they think they are and there were some way to channel their alleged brainpower to something other than word games, we could cure cancer in a month!

4 Comments:

Blogger reader_iam said...

Hmm. Apart from the fact reading is not writing is not researching is not debating is not analyzing is not solving-problems is not ... (well, you get the drift) ... there is a bit o' real research relating to, for example, the efficacy and benefits of puzzle-doing with regard to, again for example, later-in-life issues.

All of that, of course, is quite aside from the stick-up-the-ass point so obviously begging to be deployed.

8/22/2008 02:47:00 AM  
Blogger bill said...

Use of quotes does not necessarily mean agreement with the quoted material.

8/22/2008 05:32:00 AM  
Blogger reader_iam said...

Of course it doesn't!

8/22/2008 12:50:00 PM  
Blogger XWL said...

Ken Jennings felt sort of sorry for Rosenbaum (sounds like from his post), given the firestorm of angry emails he'd likely receive for such a poorly reason and needlessly confrontational column.

(plus Ken points out that if any blog's audience was full of the type of folks that Rosenbaum is denigrating, it'd be Slate's)

My guess, Rosenbaum was trying to pick up some young cutie at the local coffee house, and he or she wouldn't give Ron the time of day while they were intently focused on some sort of puzzle in front of them. In Ron's world, revenge is best served in the form of supposedly humorous column on the subject.

(Ron, it wasn't the puzzle, it was you, if they were interested in you, they'd have quit, or coyly asked for your help)

8/23/2008 01:58:00 PM  

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