Important blogging milestone: getting an NPR wedgie from Scott Simon

This weekend, reached an important bloggy milestone: getting mentioned on NPR!

Alejandro and I were mentioned on Weekend Edition Saturday, albeit in a story entitled “Inane Blogs.” Host Scott Simon had this to say:

“…An interesting man named Alejandro, who works on a station in Antarctica, just posted an entry about his love of toast. He goes on for more than a thousand words. `I could live off the stuff,’ he says. `We’re talking about some kind of fatty, salty flavor with a golden color.’ Sounds like a man who could use a fresh banana.

A Brooklyn blogger named John Young posts pictures of the sleeve he has made for his laptop computer. I can’t wait to see pictures of his laptop sleeve on vacation in Oaxaca.

One of the great pen-and-ink diarists, John Kenneth Galbraith, once explained that he had no time to write in his diary on busy days and too much on quiet days, which tended to fill his pages with overly lavishly described annoyances.

I know that blogs are a way of saying, `I am,’ but if you post a blog in the forest and no one reads it, who are you? Plato’s pronouncement tells us that `the unexamined life is not worth living.’ Blogs remind us that the overexamined life is not worth reading.”

(You can listen to the piece here.)

Scott writes with tongue in cheek, and I certainly don’t mind. Brag about your craft project as if you had successfully invaded Normandy, and you can expect some teasing.

I do believe, however, that Scott is unfairly slighting what is just the latest incarnation of a venerable and worthy genre: writing about small matters in an epic mode. At the turn of this century, Booth Tarkington clothed eleven-year-old troublemaker Penrod Schofield with the same narrative glory that Homer employed on Odysseus. And why not? Surely it’s not the scale of our triumphs that define our worth as people. Is it?

In Cockneys and Their Jokes, British philosopher G.K. Chesterton firmly upholds the value of trivial writing. A joke about bad cheese, or a description of an embarassing moment in which the Prime Minister sits on his hat, is important because it is a symbol, a window into our shared human condition:

“If you really ask yourself why we laugh at a man sitting down suddenly in the street you will discover that the reason is not only recondite, but ultimately religious. All the jokes about men sitting down on their hats are really theological jokes; they are concerned with the Dual Nature of Man. They refer to the primary paradox that man is superior to all the things around him and yet is at their mercy.”

The mighty brought low! The stench of elderly gorgonzola raised high! The small victory over inconvenience, and the struggle to triumph over the mundane! These small victories unite us as people. I, for one, am willing to defend the worth, the value, the utmost necessity of long articles about institutional toast.

PS. I’d never take my laptop sleeve to Oaxaca, Scott: the canvas and neoprene can’t protect against sand and water. That’s why I’m developing the mighty rePod, and you’d better believe I’ll post the Oaxacan beach pictures here!

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