Jeff Smith 2 p.m., July 30
- Community Blog
- Normal Heights Through the Blue and White
First thing's first, BARNACLE ALERT:
The insulin ad has been up for months. Frankly, I'm amazed that it hasn't been snatched up an uninsured diabetic or by a doping athlete, either party having good reason to jump on such an ad. Maybe the AllCaps keeps them away...
I've fallen a little behind the times sorting through the ads, so I'll take a minute to throw a few Also-Rans out there for your viewing pleasure: firstly, the finest commercial oven your money could ever hope to buy. Secondly, there's this slightly creepy horse pimping service going on. I mention this only because I am reading Even Cowgirls Get the Blues and I can't deny a little synchronicity in the spirit of Tom Robbins. At least it's not a cold-blooded horse.
The actual Runner-Up Award for the day goes to:
I have this hilarious vision that her son is, like, thirty years old and just giving up the bottle of formula for the sippy-cup of normal milk. Dunno why.
The Numero Uno Big Winner Award Recipient:
Queries to Google and Wikipedia indicate that $300 is too high a price for this particular item, though not by as much as one would think. It's apparently highly desirable, being many years out-of-print and having been a fairly limited run to begin with. Apparently, this is one of the more popular (maybe even "most" popular) coffee table books to be burped up by popular culture since such a genre came into being.
When you get right down to it, the coffee table book is a strange phenomenon. In form, they are fairly unassuming; heavy-duty books filled with pictures and trivial knowledge. Basically, they're like small, specific, shallow encyclopedias. But in function, coffee table books are very weird. Let's take our Madonna Sex Book as an example. Ostensibly, poster likes Madonna, ergo, poster buys Madonna sex book. But the function of the coffee table book is not to entertain the purchaser so much as to entertain the purchaser's friends. Nobody sits around and reads their own coffee table books, there's no point in doing so when there are probably plenty of real books elsewhere in the house. It's more accurate to suppose that the poster bought the book because he thought other people like Madonna and want to see her naked when visiting his house.
It gets more complicated because, while the coffee table book is not intended to entertain the purchaser, it does reflect the tastes of the purchaser. However, just because the poster has the Madonna Sex Book on his coffee table, that does not necessarily indicate his personal tastes in literature. Say, for example, the poster is a big Anne Rice fan1. If the book on the coffee table (as distinct from the "coffee table book" as such) was meant to reflect his personal tastes, then it should be a copy of Interview With the Vampire. But the coffee table book ultimately reflects the tastes that he wishes to present to his guests as his personal tastes, rather than his personal tastes in their plain, "honest" form. This is what I mean when I say that the function of the coffee table book is interesting, whereas its form is underwhelming.
Assuming that houseguests are going to make judgments about a person's character based on his tastes (hardly a ridiculous assumption) then it stands to reason that the coffee table book ultimately functions as a medium for conveying a message of "who I am" to people who might not already have their minds made up on that fact. If the coffee table book speaks, then what does the Madonna Sex Book have to say?
"I [the poster, the possessor of this book, the presenter of these tastes] am hip. I am sexually uninhibited--as any good, twenty-first-century person should be--and comfortable enough with the topic that I freely display celebrity soft-core pornography in my home, to all who might enter there. Do not think, however, that I have this book as a source of sexual pleasure. It is actually a careful statement about sexual inhibition in modern America. Moreover, be aware that I am the kind of person who likes Madonna not for the catchy pop tunes, but for her function as late-twentieth-century iconoclast. If you were to peruse my bookshelves, you would doubtless find other art books, possibly a copy of Maus as well. I keep my Anne Rice collection upstairs, where you will not find it."
- This is the sort of examples that come to mind when I go to Lestat's to write...