In the “third sitting” of Tripe, Mr. Wolf seems to provide us with a self-deprecating back-handed apologetic of the sort that makes me tired but dresses this up as a rejection of quality standards a la the Taoist. In other words, our esteemed author apologizes for his bad writing with the excuse that “good” vs. “bad” as a distinction is just a trap anyway.
The thing that I am not hiding is that this is a bad book, thus violating pretty much any standard of goodness you could want. Fortunately, we don’t always want what fits our standards of goodness, we don’t usually even have these standards, and we mostly don’t have a clue what we really want, let alone what we could want. So the badness of this book could be kind of cool, in that, should it be sitting on your coffee table and some coffee-drenched guest open it at random, he/she may be dumbfounded and perhaps start a conversation with you, the profoundly-alone host, with a comment like “What the hell? This is such a bad book. Its, like, `style’ (Your guest will makes little quotation thingies with her/his voluptuous hands. This will overwhelm you.) is so needlessly opaque, and there’s no structure… I can’t believe someone actually published it… yet… I admire you for actually reading the whole voluminous thing… you don’t have, like, any diseases or anything do you?”
Here is the problem with good books; I mean very good books, the kind that make you stop and stare at nothing every few pages because your mind has been assaulted so intensely: you don’t understand them. I’m not saying people don’t understand them; this is a commonplace: every time someone thinks up something really neat, it gets simplified and consequently butchered for public consumption, so you get Nazis saying “Nietzsche’s our dude” and silly American businessmen thinking they’re acting in actualization of the ideas of Locke. I’m not stating my version of this myth, `cause I think it’s a crock, and I don’t need to state versions of other people’s crocks because I can think of my own. What I’m saying instead is that you don’t understand them, and if and when you mistakenly think that you do, you will go to a party and try to talk about Dostoevsky and people will laugh and give you a swirlie. And you will thank them for giving you that much attention and return to reading tripe. I know this because I have checked.
So you don’t really want a good book anyway. On the other hand, when you get a book like Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by “Little Stupid Freak” Bobby Fulgrum, which encourages you to be stupid, you understand every word, hurt you though they might, so there ya go.
However, this rejection of quality standards is duplicitous, in that this chapter, including some of the above, contains “jokes,” intended to be “funny,” in other words appreciable even by those not on drugs. It can at least console us that Mr. Wolf is not now, as he predicts “pale and starving in a pile of my own half-eaten excrement,” but is instead quite dead.