Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Down the Memory Hole

Maureen Dowd has a column in today's NY Times about Joshua Foer, a 20-something who is getting big bucks for memorizing useless things. It's a typical Dowd book report of a piece, puffing up the latest pop culture/pseudo-intellectual phenom, who memorizes stuff, in part, by imagining his relatives having sex. My "comment" in response was rejected, so for what it's worth, here it is:

And the cynics said you couldn’t be a millionaire, and that the American dream was dead! This must be what President Obama means when he talks about entrepreneurship being the job-replacing wave of the future. If you’re a millennial and out of work, there’s no reason to retire to your parents’ basement. Just memorize decks of cards and other useless stuff while you wallow in porn, then enter a contest and voila! you are the lucky winner of a million dollar book and movie deal.

Of course, it helps if your mother is in public relations and your other relatives are in publishing -- which brings me to a bone to pick. Dowd writes in the column (which I have not yet managed to forget) that Foer’s mother is “president of a public relations firm whose parents were Holocaust survivors.” So... public relations firms not only have parents, but parents who were Holocaust survivors! Instead of shelling out some hard earned money for this wunderkind’s classic, somebody needs to go online and bone up on Strunck. It's free.
Curioser and Curioser.....My Parents Actually Having Sex!
I think we should remind ourselves to skip this book with the too-cute-by-half title "Moonwalking with Einstein." While I was waiting for the comments box to open, I checked out the reviews on Amazon. The first thing I noticed is that this newly-published tome has only seven reviews (all five-star raves -- highly suspect) and it's already half price, which should tell you something right there. Only I can’t remember what. Oh, it’s coming back to me. On his Amazon page, Foer says his book will not help you remember where you put your car keys. So forget about it!
I think I will stick with Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past” and not worry about grocery lists and phone numbers. I am too old to care about this stuff. And anyway, I prefer my memories to be misty and water- colored and evoked by the sweet aroma of a madeleine.


Draft Spitzer said...

The "best" part was Dowd's line comparing the "so accomplished so soon" Foer sons to the Emmanuel Brothers.
Clearly, there's some back-scratching going on. If you too all six of those "so accomplished" bro's, let's face it, they wouldn't add up to one single Bill Kunstler (with all his faults!) or even one Michael Schwerner (may he rest in peace not accorded him on earth.)

Anonymous said...

I agree. It was pretty disappointing. Those memory books have been around for years. For the Times to waste a day on that kind of fluff piece makes me realize how much I'm going to miss Frank Rich.