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Le Grand Content O-Rama

If you haven’t had a chance to watch “Le Grand Content” yet, I highly recommend the experience. Never mind that the voice-over sounds like a German Stephen Hawking. Never mind that the improper use of Venn Diagrams will send Mr. Hippity into paroxysms of erudition.

The short (just under the new YouTube-mandated attention span of 4 minutes) film is by Clemens Kogler together with Karo Szmit. (Voice by the android-like Andre Tschinder.) According to their write up:

“Le Grand Content examines the omnipresent Powerpoint-culture in search for its philosophical potential. Intersections and diagrams are assembled to form a grand ‘association-chain-massacre’. which challenges itself to answer all questions of the universe and some more. Of course, it totally fails this assignment, but in its failure it still manages to produce some magical nuance and shades between the great topics death, cable tv, emotions and hamsters.”

Yes, you read that correctly. It manages to combine cable TV, emotions and hamsters. But don’t let that put you off. It also has lots of quips on careers, regret and hickeys. And the final take on “the perception of how much alcohol is left” is worth your time.

The film is at YouTube for those of you who can’t see the embedded clip. (Via Edward Champion’s Reluctant Habits):


What there’s more to this post? What kind of pretentious wanker are you?

Well, it is titled, “Le Grand Content O-Rama”. I am a pretentious wanker who likes to make a tawdry display of his reading, so this list of the top 106 books most often marked as “unread” by LibraryThing’s users appealed to me. Normally I’m too lazy to copy these lists and then bold, underline and italicize as necessary. (See.) I guess the premise of this list is that lots of people have books on their shelves to make themselves look smart or well-rounded, though you can argue the point. According to the Wall Street Journal, these “memory rooms” are about creating an ambiance, not reading. One interior designer admitted to “scouring flea markets and bookstores for books with fancy bindings for her clients’ bookshelves. She selects books to match color schemes rather than for their content.” (via Gawker)

I actually don’t own most of the books on this list, though I do have some on my shelf.

Bold the ones you’ve read, underline the ones you read for school, italicize the ones you own and haven’t read or started but didn’t finish. (I’ve also put an asterisk * after the books I have no intention of ever reading/finishing and a † for the ones I have on my shelf.)

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (though the narrative doesn’t live up the quality of its footnotes) †
Anna Karenina
Crime and Punishment
Catch-22 (a must read if you love satire) †
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Wuthering Heights*
The Silmarillion (also not recommended unless you’re a 15-year-old virgin with time to kill)
Life of Pi: a novel (It’s a story about a tiger and a small boy in a lifeboat. And it’s more than two pages long. Impressive.)
The Name of the Rose (major pretentious wanker points for finishing this one.) †
Don Quixote (ditto)
Moby Dick (more information about whale biology than you’ll ever need)
Ulysses (I can’t get past chapter four)
Madame Bovary (she was hot)
The Odyssey (kick-ass adventure story with a mass murdery finish) †
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
A Tale of Two Cities (“It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times.”)
The Brothers Karamazov (Dostoevsky rocks. Apparently Freud was fascinated by this book too.)
Guns, Germs, and Steel: the fates of human societies (must reading for anyone who creates worlds) †
War and Peace
Vanity Fair
The Time Traveler’s Wife * (this is starred, even though I don’t know anything about this book. It’s the principle. Anything titled “The Something Something’s Wife” would get the dreaded star.)
The Iliad (once you get over the author’s obvious foot fetish, the book is pretty good) †
The Blind Assassin
The Kite Runner *
Mrs. Dalloway
Great Expectations
American Gods
A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius
Atlas Shrugged (Yeah, I know. Plus, I’ve also read the Fountainhead.)
Reading Lolita in Tehran: a memoir in books *
Memoirs of a Geisha
Wicked: the life and times of the wicked witch of the West
The Canterbury Tales
The Historian : a novel
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Love in the Time of Cholera
Brave New World (This is probably in my top ten.) †
The Fountainhead (See.)
Foucault’s Pendulum (Baffling until I read Holy Blood, Holy Grail, at which point I got a bit freaked out. Luckily Dan Brown then dumbed it all down enough in the Da Vinci Code that I realized I was being silly.)
The Count of Monte Cristo (Ultimate revenge tale.)
A Clockwork Orange (Highly recommended my droogs.)
Anansi Boys
The Once and Future King
The Grapes of Wrath
The Poisonwood Bible: a novel *
Angels & Demons (the shame!)
The Inferno
The Satanic Verses *
Sense and Sensibility
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Mansfield Park
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
To the Lighthouse
Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Oliver Twist
Gulliver’s Travels (he gets big, he gets small, plus, there’s talking horses.)
Les Misérables
The Corrections
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Dune (can you imagine what Freud would have made of an entire culture of giant worm-worshipers? Jack-pot.)
The Prince (must reading for anyone going into business, politics or fratricide)
The Sound and the Fury
Angela’s Ashes : a memoir (this is actually quite a funny book, once you get used to reading about crushing poverty, relentless alcoholism and incipient TB.)
The God of Small Things
A People’s History of the United States : 1492-present
A Confederacy of Dunces (I have a feeling this one won’t be much read in a generation or so.)
A Short History of Nearly Everything
The Unbearable Lightness of Being (This is the only pretentious Czech book on the list, but believe me, I’ve read dozens.) †
Slaughterhouse-five (Also in the top ten.) †
The Scarlet Letter
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
The Mists of Avalon (viking chick-lit!)
Oryx and Crake : a novel
Collapse: how societies choose to fail or succeed (Skip the first chapter and you’ll be fine.) †
Cloud Atlas
The Confusion
Northanger Abbey
The Catcher in the Rye (I read this one every time I start feeling a little alienated from society. It’s almost like I was programmed …) †
On the Road (I agree with whoever said, “that’s not writing, that’s typing.” Tennessee Williams?) †
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Freakonomics: a rogue economist explores the hidden side of everything *
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance : an inquiry into values (You know, I really didn’t see the ending coming, so I have to recommend it. However, it took me the better part of a year to read.)
The Aeneid (Roman propaganda crap.)
Watership Down (An adventure story about rabbits. How cool is that?)
Gravity’s Rainbow
The Hobbit (I’m not sure what I love more, the book or the 1977 made-for-TV animation.) †
In Cold Blood: a true account of a multiple murder and its consequences *
White Teeth
Treasure Island (Arrr!) †
David Copperfield
The Three Musketeers (Hilarious.) †

Now, is it me or is there a lot of SF on this list? What the hell?

This was all started by someone else, but I stumbled across it at Ahistoricality. If you play, I’d love to know about it. My score: Bold (read, unbidden, because I am a pretentious wanker): 51, Italics (read but not finished): 3, Underlined (read in school, which doesn’t necessarily mean I didn’t enjoy them): 5.

More classics at humor-blogs.com and alltop.


  1. Daniel Daniel

    Speaking as one pretentious wanker to another, the video, while droll, was a bit amusing in that “wasting a bit more of my life on drivel” kind of way.


  2. Read some of the Illiad and the odyssey for school… should have read all of them but… apart from those nothing else on that list I’ve read or attempted to.

    Favorite book though is Puckoon.

  3. Oh, there are a few that really are worth the time:

    Brave New World

  4. Catch-22 is my all-time fave. It’s the only book I’ve read more than once, and I’ve read it 3 times (my fave chapter is Chapter 18: “The Soldier Who Saw Everything Twice”). I’ve named the Predator Press base of operations “Pianosa” in tribute.

    The only one I haven’t read on this list is 1984, but I love the record by Van Halen.

    Does that count?


  5. Can’t be bothered with following the meme in its entirety and, besides, it would look like I really was pretentious since there’d be quite a lot there that are technically on my shelves yet haven’t been read and of which I’ve no intention of ever reading either. The reason for this, however, is that my other half is a voracious reader and we have a room dedicated to books (we hardly ever throw any away) which we would call a library were it not for all the other crap in there (we hardly ever throw anything away).

    That said, there is some awesomeness in that list: 1984, Brave New World, A Clockwork Orange, Watership Down. And then there’s also Moby Dick and The Hunchback of Notre Dame which rate among the most dreadfully boring books of all time.

  6. Yeah, I love Clockwork Orange and Watership Down too!

    LOBO — Anything by Van Halen counts!

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