Friday, September 7, 2012


Crime and Punishment is great literature, containing beauty, truth, emotion, and a perspective on some aspect of the world. Pop Goes the Weasel is something James Patterson cranked out to keep the money train rollin', it might be fun for a few hours, but you're not really missing anything if you skip it.

I agree with both of these (very simplified) assessments, but I also know that someone told me that Crime and Punishment was great prior to me reading it. Would I have agreed that it was a great book if I didn't sit down to read it with the understanding that it was a great book? If Crime and Punishment were published today and did not have an established reputation, would I regard it as highly as I do now?

Or, suppose that Wittgenstein was never heralded as the greatest 20th century philosopher (which is certainly not a universal claim). Would I be able to see his greatness just from reading his work? Certainly not. He is too high above me, when I read him I read him to try to climb up and become better through his influence. If it weren't for the fact that I was told he was great, I might have supposed that he just had a knotty mind and a knotty way of expressing himself. I wouldn't have given him the time needed to see what was great in his work - and even now I only see dimly.

We all want to see ourselves as brave and independent thinkers, but being a brave and independent thinker is like being a father. You need to be brought up yourself before you can bring anyone else up. Independence is an excellent thing, but it must be earned by a period where you allow the established to bring you up. Of course then you run the risk of living your whole life as a disciple.


  1. Not gonna lie...I would totally read the Pop Goes the Weasel book. Not that I'm against Crime and Punishment, mind you. I just really like smutty fiction. :D

  2. Pop Goes the Weasel was probably my favorite James Patterson book. I didn't read very many, but I read a few.

    For being named "the Weasel," the villain in the story actually manages to be a bit of a badass.