May 11, Sunday night -- Reading Gary Gutting

Reading Foucault: A Very Short Introduction, by Gary Gutting. He just loaned it to a friend and got it back—it’s lighter reading than he’s been doing, so he opened it up.

When is Foucault light reading? When you’re an Intellectual History major doing a senior thesis and reading primary and secondary sources on the counter-enlightenment philosopher, Johann Gottfried von Herder. Herder, he said, is known to be the founder of multi-culturalism, as well as historicism. He lived from 1744 to 1803.

What did he read before he got into the heavy stuff? When he was a child he liked The Berenstain Bears, by Stan and Jan Berenstain.

His favorite book of all time--The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde.

At this given moment, given the length of your day or intellectual curiosity that went unsated, would you be more apt to open philosophy or the Berenstain Bears?


Liza P. said...

Foucault as light reading? That made me gasp a bit. :-) But I guess at this point in time I would opt for Berenstein Bears as a pleasant escape from adulthood

Anonymous said...


I rather take something that's too heavy over something that's too light.

TootsNYC said...

Light reading / heavy reading.

My Dh is a big reader of nonfiction--history, esp. militar history, on the PhD level.

He was once reading two books, alternating between them.

He held them up to me, one at a time:
"Light reading!" The Campaigns of Napoleon, by David G. Chandler: hardcover, 1,170 pages, 4 pounds

"Heavy reading!" The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera: paperback, 320 pages, 8.8 ounces.

Liz said...

I might have to pick up _The Picture of Dorian Gray_, though the Berenstein bears conjures good memories.

Anonymous said...

While the Berenstein Bears would strike up wonderful memories of my childhood, I think I'd have to go with
Foucault. Although, for me Foucault is definitely not light reading!

Ms. B. said...

If philosophy is Eat, Pray and Love, then philosophy it is. Otherwise, The Picture of Dorian Grey is good.
Berenstein Bears running a third.

Katherine said...

I love this! Good for him.

I think I'd go for the philosophy, too, but there are some things you just can't take in a bag to the beach.

Navid said...

Hey look- it's me!

Quick correction:

While Herder is associated with the Counter-Enlightenment, my entire thesis is aimed at arguing that he's an Enlightenment figure! So take my word for it =)

If I can intervene in the light reading-heavy reading discussion, I would say my own experience has led me to get rid of the dichotomy. Even 'light-reading' contains some moral value, that is, tells us how to act (whether it's how to cook Tilapia or why to stage a revolution).

My own poles of reading are between fiction and non-fiction. The latter is what I take more seriously since I want to build a career out of it and because I think it's more directly related to concrete social situations. I still think and theorize about the former as much as I do about the former, but I just tend to experience more emotion and laugh more when reading Wilde than in reading Rousseau's treatise on language.

So glad I found this blog! and you were really nice!

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