30 July 2004

Mumpsimus Cultural Concurrence Index

It all started with Terry Teachout, who created a kind of quiz for cultural elitists called "The Teachout Cultural Concurrence Index". He claimed later, once it had spread like syphilis through the blogosphere, that it was a joke, but a meaningful one. Indeed, it was. I liked it, but I'm a sucker. I scored somewhere around 50%, meaning I can expect to agree with Teachout about 50% of the time, which seems right.

Amardeep Singh created a version that made me feel like an idiot, because there were many items on it I didn't recognize. However, I liked his perspective, and am now seeking out some of the items I didn't recognize on the list.

I haven't seen a cultural concurrence index that quite encompasses my own tastes, though, so I thought I'd create one here to cause consternation and boredom. Here's a refresher on how it works: Choose an item either from the left or from the right. At the end, count up the left column (my choices) and subtract the sum of the right column from it, thus creating your MCCI. (Which is like MCI, but with a stutter.) The more items from the left you choose, the closer you will be to my own taste, and therefore the higher your score. If you skip some, just fudge it. This isn't an exact science, and I'm not a statistician.

Some of the choices will be easy for you, some will seem impossible, perplexing, unjust, horrifying, or humorous. They were designed to be so.

Note that you should choose things purely based on your own taste, not on what is considered most respectable or some other criterion outside of yourself. It's all about you. (Well, no it's all about me, and you disagreeing with me.) Many of the choices are ridiculous, but that's part of the fun. Here we go...
1. Isaac Asimov or Robert A. Heinlein
2. Stanley Kubrick or Steven Spielberg
3. Bach or Mozart
4. Ubik or Valis
5. Mieville or Tolkien
6. van Gogh or Monet
7. John Clute or Paul di Filippo
8. Edward Albee or Arthur Miller
9. Ani DiFranco or Alanis Morissette
10. "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" or "Friends"
11. The Nation or The New Republic
12. Truffaut or Godard
13. Peter Straub or Stephen King
14. Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman
15. Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet or Asimov's
16. Bartok or Schoenberg
17. Brazil or Blade Runner
18. Aristotle or Plato
19. E.E. Cummings or Ezra Pound
20. "Mork & Mindy" or Mrs. Doubtfire
21. Talking Heads or The Police
22. John Gielgud or Laurence Olivier
23. Anton Chekhov or Ivan Turgenev
24. cats or dogs
25. Thomas Pynchon or Arthur C. Clarke
26. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or Adaptation
27. vegetarian or carnivore
28. Max Ernst or Jackson Pollock
29. The October Country or Dandelion Wine
30. Philip Glass or Yanni
31. Texas Chainsaw Massacre original or remake
32. Samuel Beckett or Neil Simon
33. Faulkner or Hemingway
34. Bakunin or Marx
35. Adrienne Rich or Robert Bly
36. Duck Soup or A Night at the Opera
37. R.A. Lafferty or Connie Willis
38. Hawthorne or Melville
39. Tom Lehrer or The Capitol Steps
40. Susan Sontag or Harold Bloom
41. NPR or CBS
42. Gomez or Wilco
43. Samuel R. Delany or David Foster Wallace
44. Mac or PC
45. Frida Kahlo or Diego Rivera
46. In the Bedroom or A Beautiful Mind
47. David Sedaris or Garrison Keillor
48. Ursula LeGuin or Charles DeLint
49. Pauline Kael or Roger Ebert
50. Paul Celan or Pablo Neruda
51. The 1960s or The 1940s
52. Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen
53. Philip Pullman or J.K. Rowling
54. Basho or Jack Kerouac
55. Stephen Sondheim or Andrew Lloyd Webber
56. Frank O'Hara or John Ashbery
57. Paul Bowles or Graham Greene
58. Schubert or Schumann
59. Dostoyevsky or Dickens
60. Orson Welles or John Ford
61. August Strindberg or Eugene O'Neil
62. Keaton or Chaplin
63. The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction or Galaxy
64. Short novels or long novels
65. Castle in the Sky or Princess Mononoke
66. Patricia Highsmith or Jim Thompson
67. David Lynch or Spike Jonze
68. William Gaddis or Saul Bellow
69. Bob Dylan or The Grateful Dead
70. Nebulas or Hugos
71. Fence or The Gettysburg Review
72. Jonathan Lethem or Dave Eggers
73. Toni Morrison or John Steinbeck
74. They Might Be Giants or Phish
75. Philip K. Dick or Frank Herbert
76. Sylvia Plath or Robert Lowell
77. coffee or tea
78. Rear Window or Vertigo
79. Rodgers & Hart or Rodgers & Hammerstein
80. Gore Vidal or Norman Mailer
81. tragedy or comedy
82. Angels in America or Rent
83. Swift or Pope
84. George Carlin or Howard Stern
85. Theodore Sturgeon or Hal Clement
86. Seven Samurai or Rashomon
87. Vladimir Nabokov or John Updike
88. Edward Whittemore or John LeCarre
89. Radiohead or The Cure
90. Goya or El Greco
91. Alice Munro or Raymond Carver
92. James Baldwin or Truman Capote
93. New York or Paris
94. J.M. Coetzee or Nadine Gordimer
95a. H.P. Lovecraft or Robert E. Howard
95b. Roald Dahl or Beverly Cleary
96. Annie Hall or Sleeper
97. Jello Biafra or Ralph Nader
98. Virginia Woolf or Arnold Bennett
99. "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" or "The Wasteland"
100. Weird Tales or Amazing Stories
Update: I don't think my instructions make mathematical sense. Don't subtract anything. Just add up your left column answers, and there's your percentage. (And give yourself a freebie because of the two 95s).

Early results are in: Brian is recalculating, since he actually followed my instructions, but I think he'll be in the low 70s. He says I'm cruel. Indeed.

Gwenda has a 76. She suggests few of these are decisions worth dying for. True.

My life is now complete: Nick has answered, including some amusing emendations. And better than that, he's created his own.

Alan does his thing.

Graham is 62% of me. I like his intemperate comments. (And I, too, prefer juried awards. When I created the choice, I was only thinking of the general results over the past, say, 25 years. But feel free to interpret it however you want. This thing is best when most subjective.)

Jeremy Tolbert sings the praises of false dichotomies, offers some very funny running comments, then declares himself uncultured. We call it "differently cultured" around here, Jeremy!

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