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Friday, May 30, 2003  
Top Ten Books I Have Started But Never Finished

The Satanic Versus
The Islamic world took offence to this because Salman had the temerity to appear within his own novel as God, for like one scene. Literary theory (author as God of own creation) versus radical religion (Allah as God and anyone claiming otherwise, even in their own made-up book, can fuck right off). Who would win? Why, the publishers, of course. Truth be told Salman’s a great writer; his prose if poetic and colourful and rich with imagery, but The Satanic Versus is such a prosaic and meandering work that I had difficulty paying attention. Normally I love things that wander off down odd little allies and get caught up in tangential eddies of chance and diversion, but I couldn’t quite manage it with this. One day I’ll finish it.

The Society Of The Spectacle
Guy Debord’s riot-inciting masterpiece of 60s social philosophy, this is deeply obtuse and intelligent stuff; take any one line from it, ruminate it till you get it, quote it in your thesis as if you understand the whole thing that way and everyone will think you’re a genius. But try and read a whole page straight off and be left a gibbering, mind-fucked fool. I’ve read many passages, several of them numerous times, I’ve got a half-decent brain on me, and still I get knotted confusingly. One day I’ll finish it.

Robinson Crusoe
Was meant to read this for a module of English at university. Managed about 20 pages. Man gets stranded; man finds ‘ethnic’ companion. Man has very little to do. Man does very little in very boring way. No wonder I gave up. One day I’ll- nah, I wont.

Bill Drummond is a complete hero of mine and every few weeks I’ll pick this fantastic autobiographical book up and race through 20 pages, proclaim it the greatest thing ever, and then put it down somewhere and forget I’ve yet to finish it. I’ve been doing this for well over a year now and I’m only 2/3s in. Emma read it in a week. Fantastic anecdotes, insights and storytelling and a pleasingly odd shape to boot. One day I’ll finish it.

Escape From Freedom
Eric Fromm is some old German chap and this is a weighty tome from about the 30s (or maybe the 60s) about how we as a species crave security and so on and so on and I got his point within the introduction; Argh! We reckon we wanna be free but really we’re pussies and are shit scared of ‘true’ freedom so we run away from it and posit ourselves in nice little pigeonholes where other people can tell us what to do and isn’t capitalism bad cos it encourages this by enslaving us to money-as-freedom-giver when really it’s just another enslavement machine only more insidious because it makes us think we’re not its slave blah blah blah and so now I don’t feel like I need to finish it because the rest of the book appears to be just him repeating the same chapter about different types of society and how they each run away from freedom, starting with feudal and moving onwards through history. One day I’ll finish it.

I occasionally buy popular science books because it makes me feel cleverer than what I really amn’t. This is particularly cool because it’s about chaos theory which is my favourite because whenever someone talks some shit at you and asks you to explain you can just go “aha! chaos theory I am right butterfly in Istanbul I’m winning the lottery without a ticket now dummy” and they’re minds get melted and they go “what?” and you say back “the infinite regression of causality and minute chance, buddy” and that means you are cleverer and they havest to given you £5. One day I’ll finish it.

Ways Of Hearing
Amazon recommended it to me, and the blurb made it sound dead interesting, like it was a popular musical equivalent of that dead famous art book called ‘Ways Of Seeing’ only really it’s just a load of old interviews the author did when he was a music journalist stitched together with a bit of guff which might actually be very interesting only I got so disillusioned with the fact that the bulk of it is interviews with Wilco and The Pet Shop Boys and whoever that I couldn’t be bothered to give it any more time. One day I’ll finish it.

Psychotic Reactions & Carburettor Dung
Well you Yanks are always gibbering about him so I thought I outta see what the fuss is about and I bought this on sale in Waterstones and read a bit and it’s all about old records, man, who the fuck cares, why isn’t he talking about Tricky and Orbital and S Express and stuff, eh? Plus Hunter S Thompson does that whole gonzo-fuck-head-paranoid-profound thing much better, and with stories too. I’m better than this Bangs guy anyway; he never talks about angels. One day I’ll finish it.

No Logo
I’m really sorry you’re middle-class and the McDonalds logo isn’t carved from wood. One day I’ll… Oh, fuck off already.

Mille Plateaux
Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guittari single-handedly (or double-handedly, I guess, as there’s two of ‘em) recalibrate 20th century philosophy by writing impenetrable hokum about ‘wolf-man’ and Freud and schizophrenia and metastratum and fibulas and common quantitative hyperion and axiomatic transcendent paradigms and ambulant smiths and telling us that “God is a lobster, or double-pincer, a double bind”. The back cover sez it’s “the single most brilliant work of philosophy of the last 30 years” and it’s now about 20 years old and, let’s face it, no one else is ever gonna come close so it might as well be the last book ever. Equal parts genius, madness, and ludicrous waffle-istic bullshit. One day I’ll finish it.

5/30/2003 02:01:00 pm


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Nick Southall is Contributing Editor at Stylus Magazine and occasionally writes for various other places on and offline. You can contact him by emailing auspiciousfishNO@SPAMgmail.com

All material © Nick Southall, 2003/2004/2005