After ten weeks of intensive treatment, a team of Viennese therapists with sloping brows declare their experimental treatment a failure . . . Straggler is led behind a wall. A single shot is heard.
A zombified Straggler with hole in head through which you can clearly see emerges and lurches back into EvC participation......
Straggler, I think it might have helped if you attempted to personalize this list more. For example, "what personally inspires YOU, and what BOOK would that represent?"
What? And miss out on the exasperation and delights of attempting to communicate my ill thought out drunken little thread concept? Never! That would have been just too easy.
For me, in no particular order:
Firstly I did include a hugggge coffee table type art book called The Art Book. So nah nah nah.
Secondly I was this "-" close to including The Prince by Machiavelli.
Thirdly - Once DA had mentioned architecture I too thought of a book of blueprints of architectural masterpieces. But a quick look on Amazon didn't suggest any such thing exists. If you know of such a thing let us know.
Ultimately - If you had to narrow down to 10......?
Erotica: (I'm the ONLY person to consider erotica on this forum? There be geeks!!!) How about either, the Kamasutra, or one heavily-laminated copy of "Big 'Uns"?
I assumed that the first thing into the suitcases of those colonisers depraved enough to need such things would be their own private porn stash.
What subject did you study ("major in" as I understand the US use of this term) at college?
I went to St John's College in Santa Fe, NM and Annapolis, MD, which was an uncharacteristically intelligent thing for my 18 year-old self to decide to do. The curriculum at St John's is essentially four years of Great Books: the books themselves, from Homer to Freud, covering history, philosophy, government, literature, etc. There are no textbooks or lectures. Instead, we discussed the books in small classes or seminars. And small means really small. I think my graduating class was 47 people. Everyone takes the same courses all the way through. And there are no majors. There are no reported grades either, at least not when I went, though if you really want to you can go to the dean's office and ask to see them. If you add up the hours, it works out to a philosophy major with a math minor.
It's not the usual way of doing things in a country where education is mostly about studying for a career, but it certainly does the job if you want to develop a strong foundation for understanding Western culture, and a broadly based education like that also gives you an edge for learning most anything else you want to.
I thought it was wonderful, and it was. It was, however, mostly wasted on my non-studious self. If only I knew then, etc.
Edited by ZenMonkey, : No reason given.
I have no time for lies and fantasy, and neither should you. Enjoy or die. -John Lydon
What's the difference between a conspiracy theorist and a new puppy? The puppy eventually grows up and quits whining. -Steven Dutch
Your college education sounds fucking fantastic!! It also explains your approach to this thread and ultimately the quality of your selections. It sounds like your educational background was almost designed to answer this question.
If we do have to do any colonising naytime soon I vote for you to be chief librarian!!
It was, however, mostly wasted on my non-studious self. If only I knew then, etc.
Tell me about it. I studied theoretical physics with some philosophy of science thrown in. If I had been as interested then as I am now I would have made full use of that fantastic opportunity. As things were I was a crap student.
Instead I got drunk a lot and became very good at playing pool. Both of which I must admit however have had their benefits in later life.
It is your responsibility to retain and impart the sum totality of human knowledge understanding and achievement for future generations of humanity.
Future generations of humanity are fucked...
Love All the People - Bill Hicks Conversations on Consciousness - Blackmore Zen and the Art of Stand Up Comedy - Jay Sankey The Universe in a Single Atom - Dalai Lama Stuff White People Like - Christian Lander The Art of War - Sun Tzu I'll Mature When I'm Dead - Dave Berry Candide - Voltaire The Pimp Game (Instructional Guide) - Mickey Royal Origin of Species - Darwin
Honorable Mentions: The Cannabis Cook Book - Tim Pilcher / Communist Manifesto - Karl Marx / On Art and Literature: Critical Writings - José Martí
As an avid advocate of the importance of fiction (I was on the verge of saying "Don't waste the books on science! They can figure that out for themselves... it's written into the universe,"), I freely admit that it's difficult to come up with ten non-fiction books spanning all knowledge.
1. Godel, Escher, Bach (and if I had to pick only one, this would be it) 2. A Brief History of Time 3. On The Origin of Species 4. Relativity Visualized 5. Guns, Germs, and Steel 6. Mader's Biology (yes, the textbook) 7. Longitude (Just to inspire them)
Well all of the important parts of modern physics are contained in:
Weinberg: Quantum Theory of Fields (Three Volumes). Shankar: Principles of Quantum Mechanics, 2nd edition. Wald: General Relativity. Goldstein: Classical Mechanics, 3rd Edition.
Those four books would be enough to reconstruct everything we know about the physical world. However since we are just choosing books for their intellectual worth as creative works, I'd go with Weinberg, Volume 1. It would allow people to recover the art of thinking like a physicist, which I think is closer to what Straggler was aiming for.
I wouldn't include Newton's Principia, as I don't know what it would demonstrate to them. Newton didn't use Calculus throughout the whole Principia since there was cultural pressure at the time against its foundational ideas. For that reason the whole thing is written using ugly geometric arguments that take pages to prove what Newton himself could prove in four lines using calculus. I would rather include Euclid since it shows, once again, the art of how to be a mathematician, the way a mathematician thinks. It would be between Euclid and a book called "Munkres: Topology", I don't know which I'd choose.
That ends the part where I somewhat know what I'm talking about.
One thing I'm not sure of is what language some of these books should be in. I read Euclid in Thomas Heath's translation, the best English translation in my opinion, especially for the footnotes. I've also read it in Gaelic, in a translation of about the same age as Heath. It's funny how the different translations brought different aspects across. After talking to somebody who actually knew Greek, I think it was because sometimes English brought the Greek across better, sometimes Gaelic did. However they were obviously shadows of the "real thing" in some way. For that reason I'd include Euclid in the original Greek perhaps.
For Eastern literature I'd have: Murasaki Shikibu: The tale of Genji Cao Xueqin: The story of the stone/Dream of the Red Chamber (It's hard to drop the other Chinese classics, but I think this is the best of them) Mencius, this is basically a book about the Chinese philosopher Mencius. I honestly think he develops Confucian philosophy better than Confucius, who was sometimes a bit vague.
I think it's important to include Chinese philosophy since it has a different focus to Western Philosophy, it's typically more focused on the ethics of everyday actions, which contrasts with the general abstraction of Western Philosophy. (I'm painting both with broad brush stokes here).
I think that Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire should be included. Someone earlier suggested a work of World History, which would definitely be a good idea, but my only problem is that I can't think of one that's actually good enough to earn it's place. Don't know if anyone else has suggestions I'm not aware of.
But Gibbon's book is worth including for several reasons. It's beautifully written and highly engaging to read, and it covers a broad swathe of the history of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East stretching over a period of about 1300 years, which isn't bad going for a history focused on a specific topic.
It also tells us about much more than the Roman Empire. It discusses a lot of ecclesiastical history, for example, and he quotes and summarise large swathes of ancient literature which, obviously, the colonists will not longer have access to - it would give them a glimpse into the world they've lost.
His discussions of controversies current in the 18th century would also give us insights into the intellectual and religious development of Europe long after the period covered in the book.
Now I've written this it all seems very Eurocentric, though. And maybe your only book of history shouldn't be one that describes black people as being intellectually inferior to the rest of mankind. Ten books is hard.
Gibbon, that's a good one. He is fantastic writer. I'm having a really hard time knowing what Western literature to select.
I've read and been told by a few people that Dafydd ap Gwilym, a Welsh poet, was one of the best Medieval poets, but none of his poems work in translation (based on the strict Welsh bardic meter). However Dafydd happened to write in a language that never became globally important and so didn't have much influence. Where as Chaucer who, although interesting, I don't think is one of the best writers of all time, wrote in a language that would later span the globe and so influenced many writers. So there's a difficult issue of influence versus actual quality, when trying to choose these books.
First, a note on methodology. I Googled "100 greatest books of all time" and Google, in its infinite wisdom (who am I to argue with Google?) assumed that I meant the 10 greatest novels of all time and led me to this page: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2003/oct/12/features.fiction. From that list, I selected the ones that I had actually read (and could actually recommend). Coincidentally there were ten, conveniently eliminating the need for any complex mathematical manipulation.
Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe
Gulliver's Travels - Jonathan Swift
Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
Alice's Adventures In Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
Three Men in a Boat - Jerome K. Jerome
The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
The Thirty-Nine Steps - John Buchan
Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell
Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
The Lord Of The Rings - J. R. R. Tolkien
I read all of those books in high school. That shouldn't lead anybody to the conclusion that I haven't read anything since. (It might mean, for example, that nothing good has been written since I was in high school.)
If I was limited to one Buchan, I would probably make it Greenmantle instead.
For reasons which remain obscure, the list doesn't include my favourite book of all time, Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.