Friday, May 04, 2012

On the pleasure of hating

I once worked at a University, where they totally reorganized the coffee breaks, so I would stop complaining about various people during group coffee. i seem to spend a lot of time complaining about citations, reviews, and the latest publicity by some physics group.

When I look at what people do in literature when they get a bad review or don't agree with something, I feel like a light weight. For example you can read the comments about the short list for this years Arthur C Clarkes award, by Christopher Priest.

For example this is what Priest says about Charles Stross
 Stross writes like an internet puppy: energetically, egotistically, sometimes amusingly, sometimes affectingly, but always irritatingly, and goes on being energetic and egotistical and amusing for far too long. You wait nervously for the unattractive exhaustion which will lead to a piss-soaked carpet. 
Why can't I write physics reviews like the above quote. Actually I have read "Rule 34" that Priest slags off. I enjoyed it, but I am not sure I would submit it for awards. I certainly enjoyed other books more.

I have read in the past the book "On the Pleasure of Hating" by William Hazlitt. Hazlitt was a famous critic and essayist in the 19th century. But I remember nothing about and I certainly didn't learn any new sarcasm.

Of course although I have vague fantasies about writing some venom in a physics review,
but what if other people were rude about me in print. I wouldn't like it. Although it is tempting.
to write:

After Professor's X suggestions I look forward to his new ideas, such as the importance of breathing.

Even the criticisms of Gordy Kane  is mild relative to this book review. That starts with this great sentence:

It's hard to think why a publishing house that once had a respected history list agreed to produce this travesty of a biography.
There is article about the history of the bad review that has a great story how once person got revenge on a reviewer of a biography of John Betjeman.