Tuesday, April 19, 2011


This essay on NPR.org is interesting and worth a read, if you've got a moment. It's about the idea that you should accept the fact that you're never going to read, see, hear or experience everything of value. You're going to go to your grave having missed out on hundreds, thousands, of cultural experiences (books, movies, plays, albums, TV shows, etc., etc.) that others—including people whose opinions you trust—swear are awesome, life-changing, sublime, etc., etc. And that's fine.

I know I've made the conscious choice to skip whole swaths of things, mostly by rejecting the opinions of critics. I make almost no effort to keep up with hip-hop, I only encounter mainstream pop by watching videos on MTV or VH1, and while I visit Pitchfork every morning, I generally only read the one-sentence teasers for their reviews—I don't read more than one or two whole reviews per week, and I almost never actually listen to the albums in question, even when a friend of mine has written the review, so indie music is almost completely closed off to me. I don't read any fiction reviewed in the New York Times Book Review, unless it's in the Crime column or one of their rare science fiction roundups. I don't watch movies that win Oscars or festival prizes. I don't go to the theater, though I wouldn't mind checking out an opera at some point, not because I want to become knowledgeable about opera, but because the format itself seems like it would be interesting to experience, one time. Actually, two times; I'd like to see one European-style opera, and one Chinese opera.

What do you not bother with? What do you read, watch or listen to because you're afraid of missing out, or being left out of some perceived culture-wide conversation?


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