Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Games People Play

This seems to be this week's craze, on the blogs I read - Terry Teachout's Cultural Cuncurrence Index. This is a list of 100 either/or choices, drawn mostly from the arts and culture, but with some miscellaneous questions ("Sushi: yes or no?") mixed in. The point of it all is to create a kind of map to Teachout's taste. You, the reader, can find out how closely your taste matches his by comparing your answers to his, calculating the percentages. That's great fun - though its almost as much fun - and almost as revealing - to look at the kinds of questions he asks, and what that tells you about him. He asks many music and lit type questions - what you would expect from a drama and music critic - with strong samples of art and movie questions, a few dance questions, and a chunk of general cultural stuff. What he asks within those categories is revealing as well - no punk or rap (to name 2 genres) in the music questions, no foreign films in the movie questions, no sports questions, nothing about sculpture or politics, etc.

I don't know enough about Terry Teachout himself to get too excited about what his taste is and how mine matches up (about 60%, actually) - but big pointless parlor games are fun, especially when they kind of do have a point, even if the point is revealing the tastes of a critic I've never actually read. (I suspect, though, that will change - partly because 60% is pretty good, and somehow the matches seem stronger than the misses - matching on Astaire and Keaton and Grace Kelly and To Have and Have Not is much stronger than missing on, say, Picasso vs. Matisse, or the subway vs. the bus. And, I must say - Teachout's blog seems quite enjoyable.) And for all that this quiz is designed to map Teachout's taste, a good many of the questions are (seem to me) to be excellent general questions, applicable to the culture at large - that is, they should be on almost anyone's Cultural Concurrence Index. Astaire vs. Kelly? Grace Kelly vs. Marilyn Monroe? Keaton vs. Chaplin? Comedy vs. Tragedy? Sushi: yes or no? Subway or Bus? Picasso vs. Matisse? Cats or dogs? - all indespensible questions, I think.

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