Friday 31 January 2014

Elitist teasers

I started reading Arts & Letters Daily when I was in grad school. When I moved to Christchurch, I got to meet Denis Dutton, the man behind the pithy one-line teasers that drew me into the web of literate conversation.

When his health was fading, I helped him out a bit with material and wrote a couple of teasers. 

Dutton was BuzzFeed before there was Buzzfeed. But a version that piques intellectual interest rather than the mawkish awfulness that now populates the bottom-trawling footers of news sites.

The difference between BuzzFeed and ALD is why I'm an elitist. Pity the fool who wouldn't be tempted by this kind of clickbait:
ACT ONE: A street in Cambridgeham. Most Exalted Professor, freshly returned from the Land of the Asian Khan, rattles the door of his keep. Enter a WENCH: “Alarum! A Thief!”... more»
General knowledge, from capital cities to key dates, has long been a marker of an educated mind. Now every dope can Google facts... more»
Junk anti-consumerism. Even the most fashion-conscious teenager is less obsessed with consumption than today’s critics of the open market... more»
Would for a world in which ALD teasers could generate as much traffic as Buzzfeed does. Don't hate Buzzfeed for what it is. The problem is much worse than that. Buzzfeed wouldn't exist if a substantial portion of the population weren't wired to hit those buttons. Despair of that instead.

When you're sick of Buzzfeed, head back to ALD. Much there yet abides under Evan Goldstein's careful editorship. In today's edition:
Polarized by political and cultural sensibilities, Americans are a fractious bunch. But one thing they can agree on: the apocalypse... more» 
Other fun ones:
Got civilization? Europe's longtime cultural dominance is due in no small part to a genetic mutation that mitigated lactose intolerance... more»
Dickens as dad. He bestowed on his children grand baptismal names and great expectations. He experienced only disappointment... more»
When intellectuals attack. F.R. Leavis’s assault on C.P. Snow was either an ad hominem travesty or a masterwork of cultural criticism... more»
First came the spiritualists, then the Oneidists, suffragists, abolitionists, Mormons. What was it about upstate New York in the mid-19th century?... more»
Every aspect of higher education has been corrupted by monopolies, cartels, and other predators. A scandal, sure, but so predictable... more»
The epics of Homer, the poems of Sappho, the tragedies of Sophocles were all, originally, set to music. What did they sound like?... more»
Go on. You know you want to.  

1 comment:

  1. You are so right about ALD, one of the Web's great treasures