Discussion over an article published Sunday night on the NY Times website dominated my email inbox today. Given the fact that so many SM readers are hyper-literate (or at least think they are) this simply had to be shared, discussed, and dissected to death here as well. Ready yourselves:
We’ve all been there. Or some of us have. Anyone who cares about books has at some point confronted the Pushkin problem: when a missed — or misguided — literary reference makes it chillingly clear that a romance is going nowhere fast. At least since Dante’s Paolo and Francesca fell in love over tales of Lancelot, literary taste has been a good shorthand for gauging compatibility. These days, thanks to social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace, listing your favorite books and authors is a crucial, if risky, part of self-branding. When it comes to online dating, even casual references can turn into deal breakers. Sussing out a date’s taste in books is “actually a pretty good way — as a sort of first pass — of getting a sense of someone,” said Anna Fels, a Manhattan psychiatrist and the author of “Necessary Dreams: Ambition in Women’s Changing Lives.” “It’s a bit of a Rorschach test.” To Fels (who happens to be married to the literary publisher and writer James Atlas), reading habits can be a rough indicator of other qualities. “It tells something about … their level of intellectual curiosity, what their style is,” Fels said. “It speaks to class, educational level.”
Pity the would-be Romeo who earnestly confesses middlebrow tastes: sometimes, it’s the Howard Roark problem as much as the Pushkin one. “I did have to break up with one guy because he was very keen on Ayn Rand,” said Laura Miller, a book critic for Salon. “He was sweet and incredibly decent despite all the grandiosely heartless ‘philosophy’ he espoused, but it wasn’t even the ideology that did it. I just thought Rand was a hilariously bad writer, and past a certain point I couldn’t hide my amusement.” (Members of theatlasphere.com, a dating and fan site for devotees of “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead,” might disagree.)… [Link]
I confess, I went to theatlassphere.com to see if Vinod had posted a dating ad there. The article goes on to conclude that you must be incredibly shallow if you dump someone based openly (or secretly) on the fact that their taste in literature sucks compared to yours. In fact, it wasn’t until I read this article that I wondered, for the first time in my life, if I was shallow. Am I destined to be “Baioed“? Not only would the pre-32 year old Abhi break up with a girl if she had ever in her life waited in a line for a Harry Potter book, he may also have dumped her if she didn’t like
Mos Def The Cure (yes, I am a music snob as well). However, the new Abhi is reflective about the depth of his shallowness, mostly because he had been completely unaware of it until recently. The new Abhi wants to change. There have always been hints. Let me tell you all about one recent break-up. Well, it still feels recent but I guess it has actually been a while.