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October 4, 2006

"Useless is Interesting"

“Useless Is Interesting”
A Failed Attempt at an Entertaining Article
By the ghost of Matthew Conrad Good

The printed word is NOT funny. Not, if I may further explain myself, my printed words, anyway. Of course, you’ve got guys like Douglas Adams and Dave Barry who make it really hard to stay quiet in a library… Heck, even John Donne will make you to stifle inappropriate laughs, assuming you understand certain references involving compasses and fleas (or if you have that particular type of misguided mind, as I do)… But somehow when I try tricks like that it just comes off bawdy.

And that, my friends, is why the “Entertainment” sections of ALL newspapers, major and minor, are not particularly entertaining. In fact, this article is probably not causing its readers to riot. Printed words are good at ideas (which is why humans have felt it necessary to burn many of them over the course of history), but they aren’t very good inciting the youth (which is why Rock ‘n Roll is more commonly cited as the impetus behind much of the social change that the 50’s and 60’s saw than the beat poetry of Alan Ginsberg. The kids just wanna dance).

So newspapers have no other choice than to do what I am doing right now – which is to talk about fun until it is no fun anymore. There are a number of reasons for this.

Firstly, the purported “serious” arts have a long-standing tradition that requires layers and layers of critical review in order for us to be able to understand (or even take seriously) the thing itself. Like the rock strata covering dead things in the earth, an art is only important if it is so buried in carbon and time that it has become a fossil. Pop culture, seeing how this works, immediately and necessarily splits into two factions: those that desire that time-honored, museum-like credibility, and those that want absolutely nothing to do with it, until the end of time. They usually end up in museums, too.

The other reason is that the kinds of people that read articles about music and movies are the kinds of people who actually want to read articles about music and movies.

And that brings us to snobbery - which is an odd mix of humor and pride and cynicism and patriotism. But snobbery is also a complete side-effect of thinking too much about fun things. The irony in this is that this article is also a direct result of that very same thing. Snobs, feel free to laugh in your proud, cynical, patriotic way.

One of the prevailing theories of our universe (as I understand it, having had no solid cosmological training whatsoever) likens it to a 3-dimensional game of Pac-Man. In this universe, you are a yellow dot, capable of going left on and on into eternity, but somehow you can never leave your very small world. You and your yellow-dotted self wonder aloud about this… “Odd,” you say. “If I keep going long enough in one direction, I eventually come back to where I started.”

Which is where all the logical arguments I seem to make end up – exactly where I was trying to get away from. That’s not funny.

Posted by pedalboy at October 4, 2006 7:21 PM | TrackBack


Posted by: allison at October 5, 2006 1:58 PM

Well, that certainly covered a lot of ground in a pretty short amount of time. But I, for one, was entertained.

Posted by: Dan at October 6, 2006 10:37 AM
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