Bad Book

So, I says to my daughter, 'Where's that bad book I was reading? I have to find it.'

She replied, 'If it's so bad, why do you want to find it?'

'If I find it and finish it, I've just read a bad book. But if I don't find it, I'll be in the middle of a bad book for the rest of my life!'


  1. 'If I find it and finish it, I've just read a bad book. But if I don't find it, I'll be in the middle of a bad book for the rest of my life!'

    What if reading bad books is liable to make you bad though? E.g., say an impressionable young analytic anarchist starts to read Plato's Republic, only to put it down a third of the way through with the grim thought that this 'continental theory' lark has been going on longer than he thought. Inspired by your post though, he comes to pick it up again. Working his way through the central similes as a result, he becomes mesmorised by the theory of the forms. This then leads him to become convinced of Plato's authoritatian statism, upon which he sets about converting others to the cause - with success. Disaster!

  2. The reverse is also possible. The best example that comes to mind is a movie: The Bad Seed. In the play, the little girl monster gets away with it (mass murder). So if you see part of the movie, you'll end up thinking that that is the way of things. However, if you watch the movie to the end, you'll see her gratuitously struck by lightning, leaving only a smoldering corpse; you'll probably thereafter find yourself less inclined to mass murders of your own.

  3. Gene, I`ve struggled with that demon too. But since our days are numbered, we are forced to learn to live with ourselves when we leave a bad book unfinished.

    Perhaps there`s a market in this area for confessors, support groups or other conscience-assuaging institutions or devices (like a convenient forgetfulness)?

  4. If you ingest, say, 2mg of scopolamine before reading a new book (new to you, that is), you will not remember anything about it whether or not you finish it. I think this solves the problem without messy support groups, etc.

  5. Dearest Wabulon, if I had taken 2mg of scopolamine before I had met you, would that have solved all of my subsequent psychological difficulties I've encountered since without messy support groups, etc.

  6. Dearest Gene,

    No, only the minute fraction tangentially involving moi. The residual vast majority would have remained unhandled, even as they do today.

    Hey--obiter--thanks to a dyslexic mistyping, I just learned that "today" and "toady" are acronyms.

  7. But why do you have to finish it at all? Think of the opportunity costs!


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