Paste it in the head!


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Mensa probably wouldn't want me

Every now and again I have to ask myself, how smart am I really? I mean, I can navigate the shallow waters of North American culture with ease--I'm already 10 points ahead cause I don't watch reality TV, America's Next Top Model excepted, and I read books more complex than The Da Vinci Code; Lorien and I receive The Globe and Mail daily, and I try to keep up with major current events. However, there are certain things that have been known to stump even this smartie:

1. Umberto Eco's books. I read The Name of the Rose in Turkey and I'm currently "reading" Foucault's Pendulum. I can honestly say that I understand about a quarter of what I'm reading (hence the quotation marks)--I figure that since my religious education consisted of a few years at a Lutheran church (probably cause it was the closest church to our house) and attendance at a Baptist preschool (thanks, Mom and Dad, for leaving me ignorant of all but the major Christian players), I'm naturally not cut out for Eco. Or any books that focus heavily on religion. I can't keep the characters (historical figures?) straight--I don't know my Cain from my Abel, my David from my Goliath.

2. The inner workings of politics. I can name the leaders of all of the North American countries (thank God there are only 3) and try to follow major political events, but I honestly do not care about the day-to-day quibblings of Congress or Parliament or whatever. In section A of the Globe and Mail, the first 10 pages are devoted to Canadian politics and I can honestly say that I have never once read a story on any of those pages. I skip to A12 where the Toronto and world news starts.

3. Foreign languages. While I've managed to master English, I still cannot speak more than Traveller's Spanish (Donde esta el bano? Mas cerveza, por favor). After 14 years of studying it. I started in 2nd grade. Continued through elementary school. Picked it back up in 9th grade, even took Spanish 3 Honors in 11th grade. 3 semesters in college. I've been to Spain. I lived in Miami, for the love of god. But no, ask me something more complicated than De donde eres? and I crumble.


  • It's interesting that you brought up "reading" Foucault's Pendulum. This is by no means an easy book and to large extent a showoff by Eco. It sits somewhere on the top of my list of favourite books for so many reasons, including Jacopo's quotes: cynicism and self-sarcasm at its most brutal. It is impossible to not experience a feeling of accomplishment once done with it, and as Belbo says "how can life be so bountiful, providing such sublime rewards for mediocrity?"). Eco is playing with puns throughout the story, although (obviously) I must have missed most of those.

    Now if only there were more women like Lia around...

    By Anonymous An-onymous, at 12:44 AM  

  • Dude, You've got me beat on two out of the three point and I only out smuge you on the Spanish thing 'cause I speak "horse" spanish as well as "travelers" spanish. I can ask a guy to "Limpiando me freno, por favo." or "Nesecito me cabillo en dos horas." But I get all my "news" from the daily show... or E! all depending.

    By Blogger Aundra, at 7:50 PM  

  • i tried to read "island of the day before." i couldn't do it. kinda like i couldn't read Lord of the Rings. and dr. norell and mr. strange. all books that people have raved about. and i couldn't get through 100 pages.

    also, we had to learn french. i even had to take an intermediate course in university. i dropped it in first year, i dropped it in second year...and when i finally had to take it, it was the worst july of my life. i didn't even tell anyone in my class it was my birthday because i was afraid the teacher would start asking me questions and the blank expression on my face would demonstrate that...i don't speak french.

    By Blogger al, at 12:44 AM  

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