Thursday, April 03, 2008

English Major Bugaloo

The Professor has been on the road this week and is suffering from that bleary-eyed jet lag that is a special bonus to international travel. So, Book Crazy might have been a bit too much for me to take on this week. But, that's why they pay me the big bucks.

Early on in my schooling I thought that I should be an English major. All the most interesting (hot) girls were studying English and it seemed that all you really needed to do was smoke too many cigarettes, read some books and occasionally wax poetic about the metaphors in Joyce's "Ulysses". I would be willing to wager a month's wages, particularly now that I'm unemployed, that the author of Book Crazy has spent far too much time in the English Department of some liberal arts school. Most of the posts read like a college junior's term paper on existentialism.

Now, after a couple of years as an English major, the Professor came to the realization that there was a limited market in the workplace for people that could compare and contrast (at great length) Jean Rhys' and Virginia Woolf's views on feminism and moved on to a different discipline. So, I'm not really qualified to critique the writing here. As far as I can tell, it's fairly competent pseudo-academic deconstruction of some existential philosophers and novelists. Not my field, not my thang. What I can say, as a reader, is that with titles like "A Useless Passion, Condemned to be Free - Sartre’s Definition of Man" and "Albert Camus - The Absurd Hero" you've left most potential readers scratching their heads at the door. It's a standard academic mistake - the sin of exclusion. If you want to get something across, if you have something to say, you have to say it in a way that people will understand. Pitch it too high and nobody is going to pay attention.

And then there's the poetry. God, I hate blog poetry. Most of it is naff and self-indulgent tosh in a self-indulgent medium. One of the advantages I found in giving up my English major is that I no longer had to try to suck every possible interpretation out of a William Carlos Williams' poem. But since you've thrust it upon me, generally your poetry seems like a lot of the other writing on your site, pedantic and lacking in personality.

But every now and then something personal comes through - your Harry Potter post is a wonderful example. It's wry, self-deprecating and accessible. You recognize the absurdity of your pseudo-intellectualism. That's what I want to read when I'm reading a blog. I want some personality. That's the biggest problem with Book Crazy, a complete lack of personality. There's not much on the "About" page to tell us about you, even whether or not you are qualified to be writing all the existentialism and absurdism bugaloo. Who the hell are you? Why should I care about what you have to say?

Beyond the content, the appearance is standard Wordpress blah, nothing special, nothing annoying. You don't need three columns and you don't need all the tat. You give the impression of wanting people to take you seriously so get rid of some of the junkity-junk on the sidebars and that is more likely to happen. I do like your use of images in your posts - very effective. But, you need to sort out some of your tabs. Auroville Diary, for example, what the hell is that? You jump into the middle of some travelogue without preface or explanation. I read the first couple of paragraphs, felt like I had joined a story in the middle, and promptly clicked on to your Book List - where there is nothing. Dead links piss me off. Fix it or get rid of it or else you're just a lazy bastard.

Now you may think, Book Crazy author, that I'm about to lay the H-bomb on your Gauloises smoking ass. That would be a fair assumption, as I've spent a lot of time slagging you off and for good reason. But despite all that, I like you. I like you for the same reason that I liked my ratty-bearded English professors who used to hold their classes under an oak tree on the quad. I like you because as a recent academic escapee I understand the struggle to get people to listen to your drivel. And, hell, it's probably pretty good. What I could understand seemed fairly interesting. BUT, and this is a big ass bold italic but, I would be unlikely to ever come back to your site as it is now. You've either got to do something to make your site more compelling or be satisfied with the few sophomore English majors that are reading you now. Most people submit their blogs here because they want to increase traffic a little bit and pick up some tips. Oh, and there are the crazy fucking masochists like George. So, my advice? Let some of the human behind Book Crazy out and release some of that passion that you purport to have for books. For now, be grateful for this lone star:

25 comments:

  1. Shame on you. You fire up your critique with a personal anecdote, claiming you too have personally walked the path of the pretentious post-secondary academic student, and then shit all over Bookcrazy for it?

    It's senseless. Even in the language of your critique you're dropping smarmy, poorly concealed, self-aggrandizing comments about your own academic pedigree.

    Bookcrazy is a guy trying to make sense of the crap that he's reading. He's typing it out online for himself, and nobody else. He's rephrasing what he reads to help his own comprehension - if he gets comments, bonus for him, it just facilitates his growth.

    How did you miss that, if you're so experienced with reading between the lines? You say yourself, the language he uses, the layout he picked, it's non-flattering, it's not trying to sell you on anything. You project this idea of 'wanting people to take you seriously' onto him, when I don't even think Book takes himself seriously yet.

    Bringing down the hammer of judgment is beyond inappropriate for a target like this.

    Some people perform for a crowd, and want to share their art. Judge them all you like. But for those who are trying to make sense of their world, in a personal way, through the medium of a blog, you're out of fucking line.

    ~ Driz

    ReplyDelete
  2. Going to guess that you are one of Book Crazy's sophomore English major readers, Driz.

    First and foremost, if you read to the end of the review, I said that I liked Book Crazy's ramblings. I just want a bit more personality.

    Secon, I don't claim any experience of reading between the lines, I don't even know what you're talking about.

    Third, Book Crazy submitted his or her site for review, so clearly he or she is looking for a crowd or some kind of criticism. I've given him an opportunity for both. Read the name of the site - Ask And Ye Shall Receive. He asked and received. So toddle on back to your Women in Lit lecture, K?

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Bookcrazy is a guy trying to make sense of the crap that he's reading. He's typing it out online for himself, and nobody else. He's rephrasing what he reads to help his own comprehension - if he gets comments, bonus for him, it just facilitates his growth."

    He is? If he's typing it for himself and nobody else, why the heck would he ask for a review of his site?

    I thought it was an extremely fair review.

    See Professor Booty? We have Driz now... we don't need George after all. hehe

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh fuck, I didn't realize he asked for a review. My bad with that one.

    I thought it was random and unsolicited, which changes the perspective significantly.

    Like, to the point where I look *ridiculously* stupid.

    *slaps head*

    ~ Driz

    ReplyDelete
  5. Um, Driz, this is really a lot more fun if you fight back. Even better if you hurl invective and slightly racist epithets.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Yeah, Driz. Don't let us down. We are really missing George around here. We don't mind anyone looking a little stupid, just to help fill the gap. hehe

    ReplyDelete
  7. First, apologies to Driz. I know that any reader of my blog would not expect me to have submitted for a review. Your presumption was justified.
    Second, the reason. I stumbled upon this site and thought why not. Let's see what a regular blogger says about the site.
    Third, I do not agree with the self-righteous view very commonly expressed in all reviews here that a blog needs to think about its readers first. If that was my aim, I could write a book. Which, I guess, stands true of any blogger not aiming at pocket-money through google ads.
    Fourth, I am a lawyer and not an English or Philosophy graduate, though the Professor's review here apparently does not mean that seriusly, I guess.
    Fifth, I have to sound pseudo-academic for the aim of my blog is not even remotely academic. I cannot help it of people presume that philosophy and literature are academic interests. I had never been introduced to them academically as I was a Science student before opting for Law.
    Sixth, I have a choice to write what I feel or think or to fuel my blog through whatever gets me traffic. I choose the former, for I am interested in blogs precisely for that reason.
    I would love to see people reading my blog, but not for the wrong reasons. If I write an entry about how I perceive an existential theory, I would rather not dupe people into it by naming them otherwise. I guess, professor, you will agree that a duped reader will have lesser chances of coming back.
    On poetry, again, it is not even poetry. It is just some thoughts which i have made rhyme. I am no Eliot or Blake neither have I made any pretensions about it on my blog. Blog is a medium of expression of what I am thinking. Sometimes, I think through rhymes.
    Your point on personality taken. Will look into that aspect.
    My sidebar is loaded I know, but I like it that way. I guess that's the reason I chose one with three columns. I am no expert in coding and wordpress works great for me with great easy choices.
    Another mistake you made is that I want readers to take my blog seriously. No. I am not present in my blog. I happen to think about what I read and I share that. I have fun doing this. What you are not interested in, sometimes, sound profound.
    Auroville Diary is a personal account. It is on my blog basically for my record and also so that some people interested may read.

    BookList point taken. Though, with a full time jo 6 days a week, 13 hours a day, I have only two choices - to blog or not to blog because of 'booklist' type slacks. I again, choose the former. Blogging is too much fun to let it go for that.
    For some reason, you guys think the f word is sacred and abusing is cool and you started this blog with that principle in mind. Despite that I signed up here to know how a regular, professional blogger views my blog. I wanted criticism and I have got it. Out of all the junk, 'the lacking personality' part is definitely some constructive criticism I can use. Thanks.

    Lastly, Driz, thanks for speaking for me.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I personally fucking love the F-word. Abuse or not.

    And what I also love are wordy fucks who whine and explain things away.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I liked this thread better when it started with "shame on you"...

    Anyone else see Bookcrazy writing his response through gritted-teeth? Actually, I think that's the only way one could possibly write "the f word" instead of "fuck": while seething.

    Kudos, also, for the tags, Boots - it's a crime that those three words aren't used in conjunction more.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Yeah, I thought it was gonna be a good day when it started with "Shame On You" as well. Oh, well.

    A six point argument is just too much for me to deal with today. Wordy, wordy, whining. I will say that I actually am reasonably fucking reserved with my use of the word "fuck". Fuck!

    And, I know more about you from your comment than I learned from reading about two dozen posts on your blog.

    Fuckity fuck fuck, I'm itchin' for someone to wrassle with today, but not a lawyer.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!

    Ahhhh, I feel better now. Thank god we have a blog founded expressly for the purposes of being vulgar and abusing people.

    Booty, excellent review. Crazy's stuff is interesting but dry.

    And today I realize that I am not nearly as smart as I previously thought because all I can think of while reading Book Crazy is the philosopher's drinking song from Monty Python.

    "Immanuel Kant was a real piss-ant who was very rarely stable.

    Heideggar, Heideggar was a boozy beggar who could think you under the table.

    David Hume could out-consume Wilhelm Freidrich Hegel.

    And Whittgenstein was a beery swine who was just as sloshed as Schlegel.

    There's nothing Nieizsche couldn't teach 'ya 'bout the raising of the wrist.

    Socrates, himself, was permanently pissed.

    John Stewart Mill, of his own free will, after half a pint of shanty was particularly ill.

    Plato, they say, could stick it away, half a crate of whiskey every day!

    Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle,

    And Hobbes was fond of his Dram.

    And Rene Descartes was a drunken fart:"I drink, therefore I am."

    Yes, Socrates himself is particularly missed;
    A lovely little thinker, but a bugger when he's pissed."

    I knew there was a reason I barely craped by in philosophy in college.

    Aside from needing more personality, Book Crazy could also use a sense of humor.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Craped? Look, new word!

    Yeah. That should be "scraped." But I kinda like craped more.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Dude, a six-point argument followed by three MORE paragraphs?

    Fuckity-fuck-fuck, indeed.

    I love nothing more than when a pseudo-intellectual dipshit takes to heart that rusty ol' "profanity is the crutch of the small-mind" adage, however the fuck I've mangled it...

    Fack yoo.

    ReplyDelete
  14. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m_WRFJwGsbY

    Just for you, Calamity.Or should I say, Calm Titty?

    ReplyDelete
  15. I am no longer calm. Nor are my titties. Rather, I'm pissing my pants laughing at Eric Idle.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Ah, y'all are having all the fun, and I'm stuck in the Oklahoma City airport with ton of pedantic pompous businessmen...in suits. Most of whom are probably lawyers.

    *Sigh*

    Also, I am waiting with bated breath for the one day when we review a blog and the author says, "You know what? You're right! My blog IS a pool of pretensious twaddle! Thank you, Ask, for cauing me to change my paradigms about blogging."

    It will never happen. Especially, when the authors are attorneys.

    ReplyDelete
  17. [love bites] I think one of your readers made this comment. I believe she said 'I wish someone would say, you know what, you're right. My blog is a smelly pile of shit. I think I'll stop writing and take up masonry.' or something.

    [Calamity] The song is brilliant. I loved John Cleese in this one:-
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP0sqRMzkwo

    Especially when he uses the bell.

    [book crazy] Someone wordier than I am. That's boring.

    ReplyDelete
  18. To Book Crazy's credit, at least he didn't pull out the "I didn't submit" defense. That's some non-lawyerly ethics right there.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Oh my god. I didn't even make it past the first sentence. Therein lies the main reason I am happy to have grad school behind me--no more mind-numbing discussions by pompous twits trying to out theorize each other.

    As for Professor Booty "dropping smarmy, poorly concealed, self-aggrandizing comments about your own academic pedigree" I say drop away, baby. The fact that you have an academic pedigree only makes you all the fucking hotter.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I read Driz's comment with the biggest smile. I love it when people attempt to use big words nonchalantly to make themselves seem more intelligent than they really are. It's always so very obvious.

    ReplyDelete
  21. lawl @ immoral matriarch

    I'd think my incapability to think before I type would belie my stupidity to a greater extent than simply using some 'big' words you have trouble spelling correctly.

    Don't hate the playa, hate the dictionary.

    ~ Driz

    ReplyDelete
  22. @ Love Bites: Oi! Be nice to us lawyers....we could be your lawyers someday

    ReplyDelete
  23. Professor,
    Actually, on a re-read of the review, it sounds better. For then, I can see beyond the cover of ridicule. Except for the fact that you have in the first paragraph itself rejected philosophy, contemplation, random thoughts, and literature as pedantic - most of your review is actually 'constructive criticism'.

    Taking that opinion and after evaluation, have accepted some - 'all that tat' from the sidebar is gone. Two column theme selected. Working towards adding personality, though want to conciously keep my actual identity seperate from that blog. Want my posts to be my identity there. Within that boundary, working towards it.
    BookList removed until updated, Auroville Diary supplied with an introduction.
    Well, I guess thanks is due for I got from your review what I wanted.
    Regards
    BookCrazy

    ReplyDelete
  24. I have to say: "don't hate the playa, hate the dictionary" is pretty fucking funny.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Looking good, Bookcrazy, looking good.

    Yes, I am a Phillistine I'm afraid.

    ReplyDelete

Grow a pair.