Either you are sorting it out, or you are full of it.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Greatest Coffee Table Book You’ll Never Read

I’ve been prompted to engage in yet another Quixotic, wasteful project – to produce the greatest book that no one will ever read. (Some of you cynics out there may already be thinking the Bible or some other religious text. Think of this as a new Bible if you like, but I wouldn’t consider anything about this project divine.) Everyone would buy it, but nobody would read it — the most popular coffee table book known to man. (For those of you who are partial to coffee books, perversely taking pleasure in attempting to read books that weigh as much as a small child, feel free to get your hooting, huffing and puffing out at your computer screen out here.) For this project to succeed, it would require two things: first, a uncannily striking, yet utterly innocuous cover, capable of blending into the background in a distinctive way (My vote is for an impressionist painting. As to which one, I will return to shortly.); second, a plethora of prose that proves too daunting, informative, or otherwise uninteresting to warrant being published in a book that people will actually intend to read.

Readers of scruta, I am asking you for your submissions for this coffee table book. I am also asking you for ideas, or posts as to what would me a good cover. To get things rolling, I have submitted my own vote for the cover, and have provided a provisional introduction to the book. Feel free to comment on this also.


This still life of sunflowers by Van Gogh (I don’t know the actual title) blends into any room with an air of familiar, completely innocuous sophistication. The cover immediately puts most people off from the book because either

1) They are an art snob, and think that Van Gogh is now just kitsch.


2) They think that it’s an art book that only art snobs would like.

At this point, only several groups come to mind who would still wish to check out the book. I’ll list them below and describe how I would put them off the book if they actually picked it up.

These are the people who utterly adore Van Gogh. Their bathrooms are filled with his works. They have adorned the ceilings of their bedrooms with his posters, finding them stimulating their dreams, overcoming their moments of depression, heightening their orgasms. They have an extensive collection of Van Gogh books and movies both serious and frivolous. (They not only own, but were the ones that funded the Van Gogh themed adult movie.) They have named their children Vincent, regardless of their sex. And yes, they have considered mutilating their ears on more than one occasion…writing extensive journals about it, in the style of Vincent Van Gogh.


On the inside cover, I think that another picture by Monet should be placed to ruin the purity of Van Gogh’s vision. One of Monet’s waterlillies would work splendidly. This has the secondary effect of keeping more persistant art snobs (and those who despise them) out, perpetuating the idea that his is one more impressionist coffee table book. Here’s what I mean:

These are the people dealing with the boredom of waiting for something to happen (someone to say something interesting) or stop happening (someone to stop saying something uninteresting).


I recommend after the Monet picture to put in an essay by Heidegger in the original German. If the fact that the language is foreign doesn’t put the reader off, then the fact that it’s philosophy written in abstruse prose will. Now assuming that our reader is well versed in both German and Continental philosophy, and finds themselves riveted by the essay, never fear because my Prologue, in shining English will come to the rescue. The inexplicable disorderliness of the entire book at this point would also be enough to put anybody out.


This book is not intended to be read by anybody. If that fact excites you, then I should like to mention that it was also intended to be read by corporate lawyers and accountants. If your panties are still in a bunch, I have a question for you:

If you have two trains heading towards each other, 35 miles apart, one is traveling 85 mph, the other is traveling 75 mph. It is now 5:15 pm. At what time will these two trains meet each other?

(NOTE: The answer to this question is of vital importance to understanding anything further in this book. If you hate these types of problems, or find that deciphering them proves too difficult a task for you, then I would suggest that you put the book down now.)

The answer to this question reveals several things. I would like to start with a more oblique approach, in the style of the sophists of old.

In answering something, one generally intends to imply the truth. However, the truth is often generally intended in questioning somebody. So if we are assuming truth before we know the truth, do we ever know the truth?

If a woodchuck really does chuck wood, does it matter how much wood the woodchuck would chuck? I suppose that this all really depends on context. That in some cases, yes, it would matter that the trains would meet at 5:28 (and 7.5 seconds) PM because the woodchuck would not finish chucking wood until at least 5:30, and therefore could not be responsible for the flipping of the switch which would cause these trains to collide, derail, and cause innumerable family tragedies.

The point is that there is no point, unless of course there is a point. This concept is very difficult to grasp since it is rather pointed. This book will address such points.

(Here my prologue ends. If this hasn’t gotten you to stop reading by now, please submit something that would. Biblical begatting for several pages, perhaps?)

posted by ferret at 10:52 pm  

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