March 16th, 2005



ANHEDONIA. Is this a word that everybody knows except me?

For that matter, am I just incredibly ignorant, or do authors of novels, even trashy "beach books," purposely fill their stories with obscure literature and music references that most normal people won't understand?

And do real people talk like the characters in these novels, making references to quotes from Cicero and Plato and "Mission: Impossible" and Queen Victoria... and Emmylou Harris? Well, pardon me, then, for not being a font of wisdom able to quote Keates, Kipling and Kelly (Walt) off the cuff.

In the same crappy novel, a character is leading her horse up the "bridal path." Is this a hint at bestiality, a reference to Equus, or am I in error thinking the author means "bridle path."

This is why I rarely read fiction novels anymore. I'm just too dumb to understand them.

non fiction and my own crushing ignorance

I prefer reading non-fiction over fiction. Non-fiction authors generally assume you don't know much about the subject, and that's why you're reading a book about it. Thus, they present their material in a way that is approachable, understandable, and not belittling.

Fiction authors, on the other hand, like to demonstrate how smart they are, and proceed to fill their works with arcane references to all kinds of weird crap that people who have to, like, work for a living have neither the time nor the opportunity to learn anything about.

Perhaps, however, I have it all wrong. Maybe all the people in New York who read books from the New York Times Best Seller List actually are sufficiently well educated and well rounded that they understand the little references, jokes, and allusions the authors make. Maybe, growing up in a small mill town in Oregon, and now living in a small former sugar cane town on Oahu, I just haven't had the opportunity to learn about or be exposed to the things I really should know about in order to be a functional member of society. Collapse )

One thing I did get

At least I caught the Monty Python reference in Jon Scieszka's Knights of the Kitchen Table. This series of books, however, is written for a third- through fifth-grade audience. Am I to assume, then, that contemporary fifth graders will catch such references?

An episode of "Duck Dodgers" on the Cartoon Network recently included an "homage" to Fleischer's "Popeye The Sailor" cartoons from the 1930's. Did anybody catch that? Did everybody catch that? To me it seemed rather obscure, but apparently it's just that I am rather obtuse, and therefore am greatly amused on those rare occasions when I do understand something. This would indicate that "anhedonia"* is not something with which I am afflicted. Is there a term, however, for an affliction in which, when one is pleased by something, said pleasure is almost immediately overwhelmed by a devastating frustration and unhappiness caused by an awareness of how much one must be missing out on through lack of understanding and knowledge?

* See earlier entry. Wait, never mind, you know what it means. I'm the stupid one.


Ah, whatever. It probably doesn't matter what you know or don't know, as long as you remember one thing:


'Nuff said.*

* (Marvel Comics reference**)

** (When I get around to writing a crappy pop fiction novel, I think I'll include an appendix listing any obscure***, or for that matter, obvious, literary or other references I might make)

*** To be properly pretentious, I should have said this was a "Smilin' Stan" reference, rather than the more overt "Marvel Comics."