Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Why Rozanne Can’t Read

For my vaguely feminist book club I’m supposed to be reading a book called The Alphabet Versus the Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image. However, this is what happened when I opened it up to the first page and tried to read: My eyes rolled back in my head; my my chin clunked forward into my sternum; and faint wisps of blue-gray smoke issued from my ears. At least that’s what would have happened if I were a cartoon character and the cartoonist wanted to indicate that the book caused my brain to shut down.

This is how far I got before I smelled smoke:

“Writing of any kind, but especially its alphabetic form, diminishes feminine values and with them women’s power in the culture. The reasons for this shift will be elaborated in the coming [432] pages.”

OK. Shouldn’t the premise intrigue me? I feel it should, but the author just sounds so dustily academic, and, truth be told, I’m not at all intrigued. I know I won’t be able to force myself even to get to the bottom of that first page.

That is truly shameful. What has happened to me? Once upon a time, when I was a bluestocking college girl, I read histories of the labor movement and 18th-century novels that were twice as long and probably 100 times as desiccated.

I’d like to think that it is just this author’s stultifying writing style that is making my brain go on the fritz, but I’m afraid I’m developing an allergy to anything that might require analysis or interpretation. Some sort of new manifestation or escalation of my innate laziness?

I do feel that I have to say in my defense that there are still a few functioning brain cells in my skull. After retreating in defeat from The ABCs vs. the Goddess, I finished David Sedaris’ Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim in a couple of hours. I liked it very much. I don’t know if that restores me to the status of esteemed member of the reading public or brands me as a true sloth who would rather laugh than do any serious thinking.


Blogger Pupa said...

i think it really is the author's fault...no worries!!!

11:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's nothing wrong with preferring entertainment to scholarly reading, unless you're in the middle of studying for an advanced degree or something.

Which reminds me - I need to finish "Dress Your Family In Corduroy and Denim." I wish I had it in printed form, but instead I have hours of CDs and it's taking forever for me to get through them.

- Jane

5:20 AM  
Blogger Eyes said...

Ugh... I think I would have stopped after the first sentence.


Nothing intriguing there, if you ask me.

It sounds mysteriously like a thesis or doctorate publication. Only in these publications do you find such odd studies: alphatetic form and women's power.

Hmmmm...who came up with this? Dr. (Ms.) Freaky?

8:40 AM  
Blogger Rozanne said...

Thanks for the validation! It will be interesting to see if the other women in the book club were able to get through it.

I do question the author's credentials for writing such a book. He is the chief of laparoscopic surgery at a hospital in San Francisco. (Laparoscopic surgeons perform gastric by-passes ["stomach stapling"] among other things.) So what is this guy doing writing about linguistics? I'd better not go any futher in my defamation of his character without reading the book, but as David Sedaris might say, "Who does he think he is?"

9:29 AM  

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