My Meme Initiation


Memes are a bit of a trend right now. While I find them a little silly and akin to chain letters, I am writing one now. Partly my motivation comes from being invited by Sylvia to give it a try; and partly because I realize I take myself too seriously anyhow. This meme was apparently started by Kimbooktu.

Normally one is supposed to answer the ten questions on their own blog and link back to the site that invited them to participate. Also, one should invite five more people to give it a try.

Here’s Sylvia’s meme and Kimbooktu’s meme. I invite Kevenker, Sunkissd1, Gary Niemi, and AnthonyF. (I know that’s only four, but I don’t know so many bloggers.)

Well, after much ado, here it is:

1. Hardcover or paperback, and why?

Hardcover for propping up the couch and paperback for when the wood stove needs tinder. OK, OK, just kidding. Hardcover for serious and timeless reference. Paperback for fun reads, reference material that expires, books I might want to carry around, … I guess mostly paperback.

2. If I were to open a bookshop, I would call it…

“So Say Key” or “Not Sue May”. Yes, I am often obscure or esoteric.

3. My favorite quote from a book (mention title) is…

I will follow the example of something Biblical and something from fiction.

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8 (NKJV)

The one from fiction is Natsume Soseki’s Seventh Night in his book of ten dreams. A man is traveling by ship, but can’t figure out where the ship is going or whether it is making progress. Nobody provides any useful information to him. Eventually, finding himself trapped in an unbearable hell, he throws himself over the side of the boat:

ところが ー 自分の足が甲板を離れて、船と縁が切れたその刹那に、急に命が惜しくなった。心の底からよせばよかったと思った。

However… as my feet left the deck – at the very moment I severed my connection to the ship – suddenly, at that instant, life became so precious; from the bottom of my heart I wished I could stop this action.

The character had suffered at great length, until he could bear it no more, but he had been too hasty. (Oh, how we love to give in early; and in our panic, choose something worse and regrettable.) The text continues with a lovely narration of his striving to avoid his now inevitable fate. This, too, clearly reflects the human condition. His dream state is also clearly conveyed.

4. The author (alive or diseased deceased) I would love to have lunch with would be…

I’ll avoid my controversial answer and just go with Jane Austen. After all, a luncheon should be fun. I am fascinated by the sophisticated ideas that go into her characters and the timelessness of the stories (as screen adaptations have shown.)

If she’s busy, maybe C. S. Lewis (Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength). I would love to discuss allegory, politics and faith with him, and – who knows – he might happen to bring his friend, Tolkien, along.

5. If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except from the SAS survival guide, it would be…

Well, even though I haven’t been reading it enough lately, I want my Bible. But, a second choice, on the off chance I could negotiate a restriction waiver: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Fun and touching and deep enough to be entertaining for several reads. Also, it doesn’t hurt that mom read it to us as kids: nostalgia goes a long way when you are stranded on a deserted island.

6. I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that…

Made A4 trade paperbacks stay open on the table without breaking the spines. Most of my study books seem to be in this format and when I lay them down to take notes, the pages go flipping around – very Mary Poppins-ish – ultimately resulting in a closed book. One teacher mutilated the spines of her copies so they flopped flat on the desk, but I shudder at the thought of broken spines.

7. The smell of an old book reminds me of…

Certainly not research and study, since studying chemistry, engineering, math, and computers, typically uses very new smelling books. I’ll have to go with 50s and 60s pulp science fiction. I read a lot of that in the 70s and 80s and remember the fragrance of the paper with fondness.

8. If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be…

Nicholas Nickleby (titled after the lead character). He knew sadness and hunger and saw great evil, yet he persevered, kept his standards, and found true love. He helped many along the way, and had opportunity to see great good, and received charity. A very positive encouragement in this world where we can find both good and evil.

9. The most overestimated book of all time…

I can’t answer this one honestly without offending a large number of people.

10. I hate it when a book…

…binding breaks. There is no excuse for cheap spines on hardcovers or expensive paperbacks. My two leather-bound Bibles actually have sections in the back that have pulled out of the woven binding. I had a paperback of Origin of Species whose entire contents popped right out of the cover. I’ve had some paperbacks split into three or four parts. Usually this seems to be a case of cheap glues that are too hard or too weak. I can forgive the problem in cheap paperbacks because they have to cut corners to keep the price down, but for nicer books I don’t want them being penny wise and pound foolish.

Memes are not legally binding. They don’t bring you great wealth. Don’t feel forced to participate. If it seems fun, dive in.

10 Responses to “My Meme Initiation”

  1. Sylvia Says:

    Hey, you’re a natural! Well done. Or course I want to know what your controversial answer to #4 is. And #9. Love the quote from Micah. The Soseki quote reminds me of an interview with a guy who jumped off the Golden Gate bridge (and survived, obviously). He said the same thing–the instant his feet left the bridge he knew he had made a terrible mistake and set about doing everything he could to survive.

  2. Dorothy W. Says:

    I enjoyed reading your answers! I find memes silly too, but I’ve also found that the internet is a place where I can act differently than I would in real life, and so a bit of silliness is okay.

  3. びっくり Says:

    Thanks for the compliments. It was fun to do.

    I might share my controversial, offensive views for #4 and #9, but I’m not sure where is the right forum for that. I do sometimes share opinions on my political blog, but I haven’t done that as much lately.

    I’m happy for the jumper, that he had a second chance. Suicide rates are much higher in Japan. The most common method is to throw oneself off a train platform. A woman tried to kill herself that way and failed. She was badly maimed (lost three limbs I think) and during her long hospital stay a local church group kept coming to visit her and care for her. She has a dramatic desire to live now, wrote a book about her experiences, and married one of the men who kept coming to the hospital. Second chances are precious.

  4. Stefanie Says:

    This is your first meme? You are a pro already! Though I am curious as to what your controversial answer to the author lunch is and the underrated book. I like you answer to the character you would like to be.

  5. びっくり Says:

    Oh, more compliments… stop, stop… (or continue)

    OK, for number 4 I was thinking of Mohammad. I have a long list of clarifying questions I’d like to ask him, that nobody else could answer. But mostly, I’d just like to see what kind of person he was. It wouldn’t make a good luncheon because some of my questions would be a little intense.

    Wanting to talk to someone who is not living now brought another question to mind. Would I be going back in time to talk, or would they be reanimated for the conversation today? You can see how the conversations might vary depending on when they take place.

    My potentially offensive answer to number 9 is a very popular collection of his writings.

  6. Sylvia Says:

    That’s controversial all right! I can’t say that the same answer to #9 didn’t cross my mind as well.

    That’s an amazing story about the woman who tried to kill herself. Is her book published in English?

  7. びっくり Says:

    I’ll have to ask around about the book. If it’s not in English, maybe I could translate it… although, that would take about ten years. 🙂

  8. Sylvia Says:

    No worries. It’s not like I really need another book to read!

  9. Stefanie Says:

    Yeah, I’ll agree with controversial on that one.

  10. 2007 First Words Meme « Neo-新びっくりブログ Says:

    […] First Words Meme Back in October I got my initiation into the meme process. Several folks have posted “First Words” or “First […]

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