I'm still musing over the responses to my last CiF piece. It's not so much the accusations of plagiarism; they can be rebutted quite easily, although very little is truly original any more, so it hardly seems worth it (but thanks, Annie Rhiannon, for coming to my defence).
No, it's more the assumption that I must have read Freakonomics, as if it forms the core of some sort of 21st-century factual-cum-polemical canon along with, presumably, Blink and The Tipping Point and The Wisdom of Crowds and Everything Bad Is Good For You and The Long Tail (although the last one seems to argue, in a consumer universe of unlimited choice, against the existence of such a concentrated canon, which just adds to the paradoxical fun of a best-seller arguing against the significance of best-sellers - rather akin to Douglas Adams's inversion of the intelligent design concept to disprove the existence of God).
Tom McCarthy recently suggested that, in the publishing world at least, the old canon has definitely given up the ghost, as part of a depressing epidemic of d*mb*ng d*wn that affects writers and commissioning editors alike. People have been yowling about this for years, blaming trendy lefty education theorists in the 60s and 70s, and/or their successors, utilitarian Thatcherites who know the cost of Chaucer and the value of an MBA, but little else. I mean, who among you spotted the defiantly old-fashioned poetic reference in the blog header? (Although, I just did a quick Google, and it turns out that somebody made the same joke in 1991, so it looks as if I'm a plagiarist again; a perception reinforced by the above image of a relaxed Dr Levitt, taken before the recent spate of photos of reclining bloggers reading a certain pop-related tome. Ho hum.)
What's replaced the Dead White Males of poetry, drama and fiction is a selection of literate but non-literary social science tomes, more accessible than standard academic texts, less fluffy and inane than Paulo Coelho's Little Book of Chicken Soup or whatever it's called. And I feel as if it's completely passed me by. What do you think? Should I have read these, in the way that McCarthy expects his fellow authors to have read Sterne and Cervantes?
(And talking of things passing me by, this may show me up as a real Johnny-Ramone-come-lately but is Bono Must Die not the best name for a beat combo, like, ever, or what?)