Friday, October 16, 2009

Books: my anti-YouTube

This has been a bad week for YouTube videos. As most of you know, YouTube is my procrastination Mecca of choice. Although there’s a lot of drivel, it’s worth sifting through to find the clever, creative gems that come courtesy of the people who have even less of a life than me. However, the videos I’ve been getting forwarded from friends this week are utterly sickening…a Japanese candid camera show that fakes a sniper attack, then laughs at the utter terror on the face of the poor shmuck getting punk’d… a mother who stuffed clothes in an xbox 360 box, gave it to her son as a Christmas present, then just laughed, mocking and taping his tears (“what did you think it was? You know we can’t afford no xbox 360)…a kid absolutely freaking out after his mom canceled his Warcraft account (the unquantifiable social impact of gaming culture scares the hell out of me, although admittedly, the fact that it's a prankster big brother taping makes it 1% funny)…and then last but not least, the whole “balloon boy” scandal that had me (and everyone) inexplicably upset and glued to the news, only to find out via the CNN interview that it was likely a publicity stunt his parents forced on the clueless 6-yr old. (I should have seen that coming, what more can you expect from parents who named their kid “Falcon”).

What is wrong with you people? And worse yet, why do I feel so compelled to rubberneck and play spectator to your sickness? I’m officially cutting myself off from YouTube for a week or so, to give it some time to think about what it’s done. And to give me some time for an Internet detox.

All-in-all, this has left me feeling a bit like Alceste in Moliere’s “Misanthrope,” which was one of the five books we covered this week. Good thing I have literature to help me out of my misanthropy. There’s nothing like art to make my heart swell with pride for the goodness and value of humanity, be it art in a museum, music, or literature. Last night I spent an hour in the used book section of Gibert Jeune (a multi-store, multi-floor book heaven, much like Oxford’s Blackwells…does the US have some equivalent I don’t know about?) browsing for items on my reading list. Although I felt my wallet draining (I’ve finally given in and realized that I have no choice but to buy the majority of the books I need to read…there are just too many and I need to be able to mark them) I felt my spirit being replenished by the familiar and unfamiliar masterpieces all around me and the reverence of those beside me, browsing them.

I also had a great “oh yeah, I’m a grad student!” moment in a discussion class earlier this week, for which all four of us bookworms prepared a 20 minute “exposé” about the book we’ve been reading (“La Femme de Job”). I was proud of my own analysis and blown away by the depth and scope of the commentary from my peers, and it sparked some brilliant discussion. I need to start stockpiling these “oh wait—I DO love literature after all” moments. It’s going to be a long, book-filled year.


  1. Soooooooo disappointed in Balloon Boy. Dammit America!

  2. Yay books!! I am, sadly still suffering from my reading disorder... What do you mean I have washing/homework/dishes to do? I have a new book! Who needs Youtube ;)
    I don't know how you find it, but while I loved the books we read for school, I hated how they got discussed to death. Took all the magic out of them. Then again, if you're doing five in a week I guess you don't have time to do them to death for three weeks as we did in high school.
    Enjoy, and recommend the good ones I might find in English. I doubt my french is up to the originals.