Friday, 19 July 2013

Less of that stuff

A couple of days ago, I reviewed A History of the World in 100 Objects. English is wonderful because, having accumulated a monstrous vocabulary, it can express subtle differences with different words.  In that last post, I expressed annoyance at Nanny-Google for assuming that, by enquiring for "100 Objects", I would surely be most interested in 100 Objects from Ireland.  In the Land of Google "beware lest you get what you ask for", becomes "beware lest you get what We think you ask for".  And, because of the nuance of English "100 Objects" .ne. "100 possessions" .ne. "100 things" .ne. "100 thing". [1]

The last delivers you to a site 100thingchallenge set up by Dave Bruno an internet entrepreneur (whatever that is) in 2007.  Time Magazine wrote him up in 2008 making the arch comment "Apparently, Bruno is so averse to excess he can't refer to 100 things in the plural."  Myself, having listened to his superficial TEDx talk, I suspect it's merely because he is grammatically challenged.  Bruno had an "internet entrepreneur idea", set up his website, and a couple of years later wrote a book The 100 Thing Challenge: How I Got Rid of Almost Everything, Remade My Life, and Regained My Soul.  You give it a go, I won't bother.  It sounds like stunt journalism in the style of:
  • Mark Boyle's Moneyless man, a year of freeconomic living
  • Julie Powell's Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously
  • Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun
. . . let's think up a wizard wheeze that will top 100 million views on youtube and foster a book-deal with this pal of mine who works in publishing.  Then I'll be a minor celeb and get invited to a tropical island where we'll all eat maggots for a dare proposed by a pair of other minor celebs. Nirvana  . . . not!
Notwithstanding my gripe about formula-journalism. I've actually read the first two books on the bullet-list above and found them well-written, interesting and amusing.  Julie and Julia started as blog, so if either of my regular readers knows anyone in publishing, I've written 170 sample chapters since January.  As Gretchen Rubin's book is far higher up the pecking order of the Amazon best-seller list and mentions Aristotle, I'm hoping someone will lend me a copy.

I've written about simplicity before, so I'm clearly up for a project that will de-clutter my life down to 100 possessions, but I don't think I need the help of an internet entrepreneur. I note that Dave Bruno's website put up a final post a month ago, seven years after the first.  My skeptic eyebrows lifted a tad at several places in his valediction. "Never in all my life did I dream or could I have dreamed that a small personal simple living project would turn into a worldwide simple living movement." and "Through much thought, prayer, and consultation with family and friends, a clear next step has not developed. Increasingly I have been under the conviction it is time for me to move on. And so it is time to move on."  Good luck Dave!

[1] ".ne." is FORTRAN for "does not equal to", as opposed to ".eq." while ".gt." is greater than ".le." is less than or equal to. Why not learn some syntax for dead language?  Those Arts Block chaps do it all the time

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