In case you were wondering whether your copy of Freakonomics is a threat to civilization, the conservative journal Human Events recently published a list of the most damaging books of the last 200 years. While pansies everywhere will be happy to know that at least one thing we pretended to read in college is on it (Beyond Good and Evil, #8), what we really learn is that Hitler is an even bigger loser than we thought: Mein Kampf is actually #2, after The Communist Manifesto, proving that you can outline the extermination of an entire race of people, but if your average limousine liberal can’t read your magnum opus in one trip to the john, you’re not as evil as you thought. You know what else is evil? Letting those right-wingers have all the list-making ruckus; therefore I, too, shall make a list, but instead of shackling myself to the insipid number “ten,” I’ll unearth my linguistic might on the much more unique “four.” And instead of trying to out-lame Human Events (which I could do by purchasing ad space on Extreme Makeover and filling it with shots of my left nostril), I shall list the world events that were most damaging to books.
#1: 9/11. Most of us regained our senses of humor eventually, but not soon enough to stop the delayed production of crappy fiction that just keeps coming. Whether it’s Safran Foer’s misguided sophomore effort (released, conveniently, just as he reached the age of a sophomore) or the Great Resume Erasinator known officially as 110 Stories, the vapid earnestness of “9/11 fiction” should make you want to uninvent modern language.
DEUX: The Internet. What is the sound of Quantum Leap fanfiction with no easy and free means of mass dissemination? While an unlimited supply of pornography is obviously worth any metaphysical price, it’s still sobering to realize that half the jerkoffs getting book deals right now are doing so as a result of their “blogs,” which allow them to share their theories on prostituting/racial purity with the WHOLE WORLD, HOORAY.
PI minus approximately .14159: Acid. Ken Kesey before acid: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Sometimes a Great Notion. After acid: Little Tricker the Squirrel Meets Big Double the Bear, which unfortunately was published and did not take place entirely inside the author’s right eyelid as I’m sure he believed. Kafka said it best when I pretended he once said: “If all we wanted were books to recapture the feeling of masterminding the war between the species of imaginary bugs under our skin, we could do a bunch of acid and write them ourselves.”
IV: Women Being Allowed To Write Stuff. Mein Kampf to 9/11’s Communist Manifesto, the “chick lit” phenomenon is quite possibly the scourge of literature, and will accordingly duke it out with this list’s #1 after you’ve closed the magazine and turned out the lights and the words come to life and have a party like they usually do. Autobiographical sobfests about suburban girls getting their hearts broken in the big city whilst enduring the terrors of Anna Wintour must be stopped, and if we must exterminate all the women in the world to accomplish this, I’ll jump onto the subway tracks as an example (of course, they will be the L train tracks, and since the L never seems to run, I will be committing a symbolic act of hipster-puke wading and not actual suicide).
Sure, none of these world events quite compare in damaging scope to that terrorist Michel Foucault (a Human Events honorable mention), but 9/11 damaged my ironical list-making abilities, I’m still busy fighting my acid demons, I stayed up all night blogging about The Golden Girls, and I’m a chick besides. Luckily, nobody reads books anymore so all of this is even more irrelevant than usual — so if you’ll excuse me, it’s back to The Feminine Mystique (#7).