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Past Valve Book Events

cover of the book Theory's Empire

Event Archive

cover of the book The Literary Wittgenstein

Event Archive

cover of the book Graphs, Maps, Trees

Event Archive

cover of the book How Novels Think

Event Archive

cover of the book The Trouble With Diversity

Event Archive

cover of the book What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?

Event Archive

cover of the book The Novel of Purpose

Event Archive

The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Happy Trails to You

What’s an Encyclopedia These Days?

Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Intimate Enemies: What’s Opera, Doc?

Alphonso Lingis talks of various things, cameras and photos among them

Feynmann, John von Neumann, and Mental Models

Support Michael Sporn’s Film about Edgar Allen Poe

Philosophy, Ontics or Toothpaste for the Mind

Nazi Rules for Regulating Funk ‘n Freedom

The Early History of Modern Computing: A Brief Chronology

Computing Encounters Being, an Addendum

On the Origin of Objects (towards a philosophy of computation)

Symposium on Graeber’s Debt

The Nightmare of Digital Film Preservation

Richard Petti on Occupy Wall Street: America HAS a Ruling Class

Bill Benzon on Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat?

Nick J. on The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Bill Benzon on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Norma on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Bill Benzon on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

john balwit on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on That Shakespeare Thing

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

JoseAngel on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on Objects and Graeber's Debt

Bill Benzon on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on Objects and Graeber's Debt

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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Worst Books of the 19th and 20th Centuries

Posted by Jonathan Goodwin on 05/31/05 at 09:40 PM

As my mind has turned to apple sauce, I was reading Wonkette, who pointed me to this amusing featurette by something called Human Events. I scanned the list quickly and saw that Radical SonJB wasn’t there. Hopes were diminished. But there are treasures, if you look for them.

Unsafe at any Speed only got six fewer points on the hate-scale than Origin of Species, for instance. The dry sociological treatise Authoritarian Personality got nineteen--the rage of Caliban at seeing himself in the mirror, I suppose. And how could you turn your back on French royalism? Traitorous Comte. Is there anything less loved than positivism? I saw a graduate student fall down and die after a professor described himself as a “positivist” one day. And the Nazis loved Nietzsche. (Hell, they loved Werner von Braun too. But let’s not pick this thing to death.)

Keynes is blamed, stupendously, for the national debt; but they forget to call him a queer.

JBA 1: The worst book of the current century is clearly the Anti-Chomsky Reader.

A. The Valve’s unit of footnotes is the “John Bruce,” with nested notes following alphanumerically.


Oh my God! Democracy and Education more harmful than Das Kapital.  This is too funny:

John Dewey, who lived from 1859 until 1952, was a “progressive” philosopher and leading advocate for secular humanism in American life, who taught at the University of Chicago and at Columbia. He signed the Humanist Manifesto and rejected traditional religion and moral absolutes. In Democracy and Education, in pompous and opaque prose, he disparaged schooling that focused on traditional character development and endowing children with hard knowledge, and encouraged the teaching of thinking “skills” instead. His views had great influence on the direction of American education--particularly in public schools--and helped nurture the Clinton generation.

All evil leads to Clinton.

By on 06/01/05 at 02:04 AM | Permanent link to this comment

Interesting as a kind of Horowitzian Network smear-by-association; stick Hitler at the top (actually, second from the top) and work down from there.  A sample: “The author documents that “Friedan was from her college days, and until her mid-30s, a Stalinist Marxist, the political intimate of the leaders of America’s Cold War fifth column and for a time even the lover of a young Communist physicist working on atomic bomb projects in Berkeley’s radiation lab with J. Robert Oppenheimer.”” Look at the parallel phrasing between “political intimate” and “lover”; clearly she must have been sleeping with everybody in between passing atom bomb secrets to the USSR.

The left should be doing more of this kind of thing.  It’s effective.  Let’s see our own list with Hitler, Friedman, Murray, and ...—actually, have conservatives ever written that much that is memorable enough to still be worth denigrating?

By on 06/01/05 at 11:11 AM | Permanent link to this comment

Maybe the Fountainhead.  I remember way back when I was in High School the Ayn Rand Foundation ran a well-publicized (by the principal and most of the English teachers) essay contest each year, awarding a cash prize for the best adulatory student essay on the book.  Now that’s corruption of youth.

By on 06/01/05 at 12:56 PM | Permanent link to this comment

"Is there anything less loved than positivism? I saw a graduate student fall down and die after a professor described himself as a “positivist” one day.”

That’s very amusing. My co-author in a radio interview a couple of weeks ago told Australia that he is now a scientistic positivist - knowing full well of course that he might as well have said he is now a Satanist baby-slicer. I wonder how many graduate students fell down and died - probably quite a few.

By Ophelia Benson on 06/01/05 at 02:52 PM | Permanent link to this comment

This list is ridiculous. It reads like a graduate seminar in Intro to Lit. Theory! Freud, Marx, Nietzsche, Foucault...how did they forget Derrida?
Seeing the Darwin books up there instantly brands this list as nothing but kookery.

By on 06/02/05 at 01:26 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Kookery? Why, this is important stuff! If the work of that radical Darwin fellow where to catch on, there’s no telling how much more the Beast would pick up his pace. Instead of slouching towards Gamorroh, we’d practically be sprinting.

By Keith on 06/02/05 at 08:32 PM | Permanent link to this comment

Me, I liked the bit on Keynes ... bastard educated (ETON! and CAMBRIDGE!) Elitist!  Would it have been worse if he’d gone to Oxford?

By Another Damned Medievalist on 06/03/05 at 12:05 AM | Permanent link to this comment

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