Friday, July 15, 2005

While We're on the Subject of Defining Ourselves Through Cultural Preferences...

About a year ago, a blogger called Terry Teachout published something called The Teachout Cultural Concurrence Index, which spread through blogdom like wildfire, inspiring dozens of imitations. In theory, the purpose of the TCCI was to let readers of Teachout's blog see how compatible they were with his cultural preferences. In reality, I suspect most people couldn't care less about their score and simply enjoyed the fun game. But, since a Cultural Concurrence Index is a) fun and b) a good way to introduce yourself, I thought I'd have one of my own. Some of the questions are mine, and others come from various other CCIs I found on the net.

The rules are simply: for each of the following questions, select a preference, column A or column B.

1. Gaugin or Van Gogh?
2. Daffy Duck or Bugs Bunny?
3. Cats or dogs?
4. The Age of Innocence or The House of Mirth?
5. Robert A. Heinlein or Isaac Asimov?
6. The Martian Chronicles or Something Wicked This Way Comes?
7. Charles Dickens or Wilkie Collins?
8. The Moonstone or The Woman in White?
9. Hamburgers or hot dogs?
10. Any of the Bronte sisters or Jane Austen?
11. Jane Eyre or The Tenant of Wildfell Hall?
12. Wide Sargasso Sea or Jane Eyre?
13. Grosse Point Blank or High Fidelity?
14. PC or Mac?
15. Election or Ghost World?
16. Spider Man or Spider Man 2?
17. Batman Begins or Tim Burton's Batman?
18. Oklahoma or The Music Man?
19. Bus or subway?
20. Short novels or long ones?
21. Adaptation or Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?
22. In the Bedroom or Lost in Translation?
23. A Midsummer Night's Dream or Twelfth Night (the plays, in both cases)?
24. Coffee or tea?
25. "Friends" or "Scrubs"?
26. Rent or Angels in America?
27. Strictly Ballroom or Moulin Rouge?
28. Andrew Lloyd Webber or Stephen Sondheim?
29. Glory or The Mayor?
30. Summer or winter?
31. The Simpsons or Futurama?
32. The Sopranos or Deadwood?
33. "The Wasteland" or "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"?
34. East of Eden or The Grapes of Wrath?
35. Dune or The Lord of the Rings?
36. Rushmore or Groundhog Day?
37. Nonfiction or fiction?
38. Snow Crash or Cryptonomicon?
39. Neuromancer or Pattern Recognition?
40. Sleeping Beauty or Fantasia?
41. Kill Bill vol. 1 or 2?
42. Star Wars or The Matrix?
43. Kirk or Picard?
44. Hardcovers or paperbacks?
45. Doonesbury or Calvin and Hobbes?
46. The Little Friend or The Secret History?
47. The Mists of Avalon or The Once and Future King?
48. Babylon 5 or Deep Space Nine?
49. Alan Moore or Neil Gaiman?
50. Alien or Aliens?
51. The Hours or Mrs. Dalloway?
52. The Hours: book or movie?
53. A Christmas Carol or "Gift of the Magi"?
54. Ursula K. Le Guin or Madeline L'Engle?
55. Monsters Inc. or Finding Nemo?
56. Aladin or Beauty and the Beast?
57. The Royal Tenenbaums or The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou?
58. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time or The Speed of Dark?
59. Doomsday Book or To Say Nothing of the Dog?
60. "Funeral Blues" (AKA That Poem from Four Weddings and a Funeral) or "Lullaby"?
61. Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett?
62. The X-Files or Buffy the Vampire Slayer?
63. Tintin or Asterix?
64. H.G. Wells or Jules Verne?
65. Jonathan Carroll or Stephen King?
66. Jonathan Lethem or Michael Chabon?
67. Emily Dickinson or Dorothy Parker?
68. "After Apple Picking" or "Fire and Ice"?
69. Philip Pullman or J.K. Rowling?
70. Philip Pullman or multiple compound fractures?

In each of these questions, I prefer the B option. So, in order to discover how culturally concurrent we are, count the number of B answers you gave, divide them by 70, the number of questions, and multiply by 100 to get your percentage of Abigail Nussbaum. Which should tell you if you want to keep reading anything I have to say or if you want to run screaming for the hills.

Just to be clear, I'm not kidding about that last one.


Greg said...

Hmmm. This left me feeling culturally clueless. On exactly half of the pairs, I either had no preference, or didn't know one or other of the things being referred to, so couldn't give an opinion. Of the ones where I did have opinions, we concur on 20 and don't agree on 15, so I'm 57% Abigail-compatible. The strongest concurrences are Wilkie Collins and The Woman in White (which is one of my half-dozen favourite novels); Asimov; LOTR; Groundhog Day; and Dorothy Parker. The truly catastrophic incompatibilities are Macs; The Music Man; winter; Cryptonomicon; Calvin and Hobbes. In each of those cases you prefer something I dislike intensely. And a preference for Terry Pratchett over Douglas Adams just plain puzzles me. But they are such totally different styles of humour that I guess I can sort-of imagine someone finding Pratchett almost as funny and clever as Adams.



Abigail Nussbaum said...

Well, it's really just the Pullman that's a deal-breaker, I think.

One of the reasons that people started writing their own CCIs was that in most cases they, like you, didn't recognize one or both of the items in question. I don't think I was able to answer even half of Terry Teachout's original questions.

The Adams/Pratchett question was supposed to be a stumper, although recently it seems to me that Pratchett fares better on repeat readings than Adams. I guess I see a similarity in their intentions (using genre - SF/fantasy/mystery - to lampoon everyday facts of English existence) that outweighs the differences in their literary styles.

Greg said...

I've never read Pullman, and looking at the descriptions of his books on Amazon I don't see any I'd be remotely tempted to try. Why the strength of the emnity?

I've tried 6 or so Pratchett books, and haven't made it very far into any of them. I just plain don't find them funny or interesting. One of them was totally centred on opera. I enjoy opera less than I have enjoyed either of the root canals I've endured. They all seem to consist of in-jokes and allusions to things I either don't know or don't care about. Adams doesn't use allusion nearly as heavily.

Pratchett has a newish book called Going Postal or something like that. It is supposed to be full of jokes only stamp collectors (like me) will get. I may give that a try, but I'm not very optimistic.

Adams I simply find hilarious.

Abigail Nussbaum said...

The stamp collecting jokes in Going Postal are quite hilarious, but like a lot of Pratchett's later offerings, the book itself is a bit slack. The opera book you read is called Maskerade and also not one of his best. I generally point interested Pratchett readers towards some of his earlier stuff. Wyrd Sisters is my personal favorite - a parody of Macbeth that introduces the witch characters from Maskerade. Other highlights include Mort, about a young man who becomes Death's assistant; Guards! Guards!, about hardworking and under-appreciated city guards who are faced with a fire-breathing dragon; and Small Gods, about a novice priest whose God appears to him - in the form of a powerless, one-eyed turtle.

Why do I hate Philip Pullman? Let me count the ways... Honestly, I suppose there's something a bit unhealthy about the amount of venom I expend on his books. It's just that I found them badly written, boring, didactic, bigoted and insulting to my intelligence. The fact that so many apparently intelligent reviewers call him subtle or interesting, or compare him favorablywith C.S. Lewis, makes my teeth stand on end.

Robin said...

I can't say I scored very high on the Abigail-compatible list, but anyone who asks "Glory or the Mayor," expecting people to know who they're talking about is worth reading.

Anonymous said...

I just stumbled on your blog and I have to echo Robin:
"Glory or the Mayor?" -- Priceless.

Anonymous said...

Is there anyone who would actually prefer Glory to the Mayor?

Anyway, I had twenty compatibilities, 9 incompatibilities, and a lot of one's where I was only familiar with one or neither of the options. I've been reading your blog for a bit, and that's a higher ratio of agreement then I would have expected. Nicely argued opinions in any case, keep up the enjoyable analysis.

ibmiller said...

I would prefer Glory to the Mayor. I found the Mayor unfunny, unscary, and uninteresting, while the idea of a god was interesting to me, Glory's deliberate subversion of that idea in mannerisms was funny for me, and her unpredictability was much scarier than poorly done CGI snakes (though she had one of those too).

I think (for the ones that I have enough experience to have a legitimate opinion on) I am about 10-20% differeing in tastes based on this list - but probably 50-100% different in ideology and ways of preference - for instance, I much prefer late Pratchett to early.

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