Books necessary to catch references

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Apparently Anonymous
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Books necessary to catch references

Postby Apparently Anonymous » Wed Dec 04, 2013 4:16 pm UTC

(I did a quick search and couldn't find any topic similar to this one, but in case there is one that I missed, please direct me to it!)

So in my daily life I encounter a lot of cultural references - some of which I get because I've read/seen/am familiar with the book/movie/whatever it might be, and some that I don't get. I've also noticed certain books are referenced a lot more than others.

My question would be: Which books do you think are the most important to have read in order to catch references that you might come across in conversations/articles/other books? I'd find it interesting to make a list of the books most referenced (with a few of the most common references for each book, maybe) - simply for the sake of it, but also because I feel like I'm missing references a bit too often and would like to correct that.

I'll start off:
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
Common references:
    - 42 being the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everything
    - The importance of carrying a towel
    - "So long and thanks for all the fish"

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LaserGuy
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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby LaserGuy » Wed Dec 04, 2013 9:10 pm UTC

There are so many expressions from Shakespeare in common vernacular that it's hard to pick them all out. I'm not sure that having read the Shakespeare would necessarily enhance your understanding of those expressions though, because they're so culturally ingrained at this point. "Blood on my hands", "much ado about nothing", "it's all Greek to me", "all the world's a stage", "good riddance", "in a pickle", "dead as a doornail", "kill with kindness", "wear my heart upon my sleeve", "what a piece of work". All Shakespeare. There's lots more.

Otherwise, I think 1984 comes to mind as a book that you are quite likely to come across references to. Terms like "Big Brother", "thought police", "Ministry of Truth", etc. are all from 1984. It's probably just as important to have read Brave New World, though, despite it not being as commonly referenced.

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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby Djehutynakht » Thu Dec 05, 2013 8:14 am UTC

Oh yes. Orwell (a lot of his other works are great, but 1984 and Animal Farm for quotability).

And, I have to bring this up, obviously one of the biggest reference sources in Western Society:

-The Bible

Whether or not you take stock in this particular tome as religious dogma or an accurate historical account (in some places), a huge ton of references, both religious and not, come from the Bible.

Of course, that's a pretty difficult read. And while large hunks of Genesis, Exodus, Samuel, etc... might read as good stories, as far as I can tell purely code-oriented sections (like Leviticus) are probably less of an enjoyable read.
________


Other than that... scouring over some classical texts.

-Machiavelli's "The Prince"
-Plato's Republic
-Classical greek plays (Antigone, Oedipus, etc.)
-The Odyssey

Hm... and although this is a book-oriented thread, I expect in modern society there's going to be a lot of pretty decent references from movies (and possibly exceptional TV) as well.

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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby Adam H » Thu Dec 05, 2013 3:44 pm UTC

How about Aesop's Fables and Grimm's Fairy Tales?
-Adam

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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby addams » Tue Dec 10, 2013 6:13 am UTC

yes. Those are good suggestions.
we don't Have To read every word.

The crib notes or a quick briefing on the way in works, too.
The Bible is such a strange book. Blowing through it, at least once, is a good idea.

LaserGuy! What a lovely post.
I am so glad you read Shakespeare.
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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby Djehutynakht » Wed Dec 11, 2013 8:24 am UTC

The Arabian Nights can't hurt.


Also, reading the real story of Aladdin (not technically part of the Arabian Nights but often included with it) is interesting because it highlights all the oh-so-many things about the movie that conflict (such as the fact that Aladdin is Chinese).

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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby addams » Wed Dec 11, 2013 4:33 pm UTC

Djehutynakht wrote:The Arabian Nights can't hurt.


Also, reading the real story of Aladdin (not technically part of the Arabian Nights but often included with it) is interesting because it highlights all the oh-so-many things about the movie that conflict (such as the fact that Aladdin is Chinese).

Aladdin is Chinese?
Is he the one with the Lamp?
Spoiler:
If so; It is fitting the data, nicely and so much fun.
Tell me, again! What happened? Is this it?

He had a Lamp. He rubbed it like he was polishing it.
He might have been a clean freak. You know how clean freaks are.

It was a Lamp, Cell Phone, 3D transmitter. It had a Genie that would grant Three Wishes.
Then the Battery went dead. It was a great two or three days.

He was a great big Winner. Right? Did he get a flying carpet out of the deal?
2, 4, or 6 wheel drive?
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby Envelope Generator » Sun Dec 29, 2013 10:49 am UTC

William Blake's works, the Divine Comedy and Ovid's Metamorphoses.
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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby Mambrino » Sun Dec 29, 2013 11:46 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:There are so many expressions from Shakespeare in common vernacular that it's hard to pick them all out. I'm not sure that having read the Shakespeare would necessarily enhance your understanding of those expressions though, because they're so culturally ingrained at this point. "Blood on my hands", "much ado about nothing", "it's all Greek to me", "all the world's a stage", "good riddance", "in a pickle", "dead as a doornail", "kill with kindness", "wear my heart upon my sleeve", "what a piece of work". All Shakespeare. There's lots more.


Sir, you forgot that someone is not biting my thumb at you, no, sir! :mrgreen:

On a more serious note, Shakespeare is quite important, just not in English but in Western culture as a whole. Not just idioms of language (?) like LaserGuy mentioned, but e.g. the whole idea that there's blood on my hands. That I must wash off. But it won't go off even if I wash and wash and wash...! I'm quite certain that's Shakespeare even if I've not read that particular play that notion references.

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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby addams » Sun Dec 29, 2013 5:56 pm UTC

It is nice to have LaserGuy note and explain the references from Shakespeare.
To be required to read the Original and understand it is a standard too high for me.

Shakespeare is difficult both in Cultural Commentary and Subject Matter.
What teenager has Murder of Family members and Incest as default setting for explaining stories?

One that has either read Shakespeare or had Shakespeare explained to them.
Please don't explain the whole thing, again.

The LazerGuy's Highlights may be enough for me, forever.
Of course, there will always be those Curious Folks that want to read The Original.

Cultural References? From Books?
(shrug) I don't know.

EDIT:
Orwell's 1984.
I think it is such a good book.

It is almost inspired.
It may have been inspired.
By Reality.

War. What is War like?
Maybe, I will read it, again.

The Author lived through a World War.
I am old enough to remember people looking at Radios.

It seemed like a logical progression from Radio and Movies to TV.

Another very boring and depressing book about War is, "The Quiet American."
That book is not in the common culture. The name Pyle came from that book.

The name Gommer Pyle was part of common pop culture.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8zwXu2SeCk
Last edited by addams on Thu Jan 16, 2014 6:01 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby thudworm » Sat Jan 04, 2014 12:55 pm UTC

Mambrino wrote:On a more serious note, Shakespeare is quite important, just not in English but in Western culture as a whole. Not just idioms of language (?) like LaserGuy mentioned, but e.g. the whole idea that there's blood on my hands. That I must wash off. But it won't go off even if I wash and wash and wash...! I'm quite certain that's Shakespeare even if I've not read that particular play that notion references.


I'm quite sure that Macbeth is the play you're referencing here, specifically Act 2 Scene 2, if I'm not mistaken.

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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby firechicago » Sat Jan 04, 2014 1:48 pm UTC

thudworm wrote:I'm quite sure that Macbeth is the play you're referencing here, specifically Act 2 Scene 2, if I'm not mistaken.

The idea shows up repeatedly throughout the play, in II.ii.64-67 yes, but most famously in V.i (the "Out damned spot" scene).

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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby addams » Sat Jan 04, 2014 4:00 pm UTC

Does that elevate Poe' sTell Tale Heart?
Psychosomatic Guilt. A repeating idea in western culture.

That is a weird way to scare a culture straight.
"Don't commit murder. Your own body and mind will turn on you."

Does Psychosomatic Guilt repeat in Eastern Cultures?
Karma? Is that what Karma is?
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby serutan » Wed Jan 15, 2014 3:24 am UTC

Catch-22 so you know why it's a synonym for 'vicious circle'.
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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby bigglesworth » Wed Jan 15, 2014 11:30 am UTC

Djehutynakht wrote:Of course, that's a pretty difficult read. And while large hunks of Genesis, Exodus, Samuel, etc... might read as good stories, as far as I can tell purely code-oriented sections (like Leviticus) are probably less of an enjoyable read.
How many references are made to Leviticus though? Honest question - there may well be some references that I won't recognize as such until they're pointed out.
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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby addams » Thu Jan 16, 2014 4:47 pm UTC

bigglesworth wrote:
Djehutynakht wrote:Of course, that's a pretty difficult read. And while large hunks of Genesis, Exodus, Samuel, etc... might read as good stories, as far as I can tell purely code-oriented sections (like Leviticus) are probably less of an enjoyable read.
How many references are made to Leviticus though? Honest question - there may well be some references that I won't recognize as such until they're pointed out.

Allow people to point things out.
Leviticus is one of Those Books.

Those Books. Like an InkBlot Test.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ink_blot_test

What that person tells you about Leviticus says more about that person than it does about The Book.
I read that book. I read all The Books in that Collection.

I read that Collection more than once.
I read that Collection in more than one edition.

I never, really, wondered, much, about Leviticus.
It was like a poorly written Sci-Fi/Fantasy (fuck? what? again? (ech))

I may be easily distracted.
The Begots sat in the back of my head as a Real Question for years.

Where are the Begots? Exodus?
Farmer's Records.

I spent years thinking about that Genealogy stuff.
What the heck was everybody doing?

God wanted Records? Why?
God does not want Records.

People want Records!
Such a bunch of Farmers!

We want to treat ourselves like our Animals.
Keep Records.

This Dame with That Sire.
check and noted Sire.

That is the Fun part of the Bible.
Do not get me started on the Perversions of Sacrifice!

Yes! I thought about it for Years!
I did other stuff, too.

It was in the back of my mind.
One of many unanswered questions.

When I found My Answer,
That Question moved to the Answered Section of my mind.

Leviticus is such a strange Book, I don't have a question about it;
And; I don't want one!

If you want to read that Book, go right ahead and read it.
If you think you understand it, I would listen. At least for a while.

Can you tell the story of the Lord of The Rings and Star Wars together to a person that has never heard of either without becoming Sooo, Boring?
Well....It might be like that.

Some parts of the rest of that Collection, we might argue about.
I think I know what some of it means. "That is not Luke, that's Frodo!"

I will not argue about the King James Bible.
I will not argue about King James, either.

Spoiler:
Why does ice Float?
Don't normal things sink?


Was King James the funny one?
Did you know Mathew was the funny one?

Everyone is funny sometimes.
Rumor has it, Mathew was funny.

His formal Indian name might be;
He Who is Most Likely, To Break the Tension with Laughter.

EDIT:
Books for cultural reference?
Has Stranger in a Strange Land been suggested?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stranger_in_a_Strange_Land
The crib notes may be enough on many books.
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Mar 25, 2014 12:35 pm UTC

bigglesworth wrote:
Djehutynakht wrote:Of course, that's a pretty difficult read. And while large hunks of Genesis, Exodus, Samuel, etc... might read as good stories, as far as I can tell purely code-oriented sections (like Leviticus) are probably fewer of an enjoyable read.
How many references are made to Leviticus though? Honest question - there may well be some references that I won't recognize as such until they're pointed out.


Probably not so many. I mean, maybe still useful as obscure "half the people following the religion don't even know this" trivia knowledge, but beyond that, not a lot of practicality. You likely want to run through the story bits. Psalms and proverbs as well. Lot of that stuff comes in culture a fair bit. You can skip the long-ass lists of names and such.

Disclaimer: I am an atheist, and my view of the bible may differ from some.

You should probably read Dune. The first one, anyway. LotR, obviously. Maybe Chronicles of Narnia. Art of War. The stuff listed above is also good, there were a number I thought of, but did not list because someone beat me to it. Wealth of Nations. The Communist Manifesto. Mein Kampf. Maaybe one Neitzche book. They're really repetitive though, so you can skim whichever one you choose.

*sigh* You should probably read Atlas Shrugged, too. I'm sorry. It's influential, and you should probably have a general clue of what it's about, but it's a terrible read.

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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby Adam H » Tue Mar 25, 2014 4:25 pm UTC

bigglesworth wrote:
Djehutynakht wrote:Of course, that's a pretty difficult read. And while large hunks of Genesis, Exodus, Samuel, etc... might read as good stories, as far as I can tell purely code-oriented sections (like Leviticus) are probably fewer of an enjoyable read.
How many references are made to Leviticus though? Honest question - there may well be some references that I won't recognize as such until they're pointed out.
Leviticus contains the original Hebrew laws pertaining to homosexuality, incest, slavery, etc. "[action] is a sin" is pretty much a direct reference to Leviticus.
-Adam

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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby addams » Wed Mar 26, 2014 5:17 am UTC

It may be best to leave some things alone.
Even if they are considered to be culturally revenant and you don't catch references.

It is ok to ask.
Some people get snarky.

It is not possible to read every book.
Some are dark and dystopian and, sort of, need to be read.
Like 1984. It's dark, but, somewhat important.

What we put into our heads has an effect on The World around us.
Not much. No. It is not much. It is something.

You are not much in the grand scheme of things.
If you disappeared today, the water would settle where you stood, quickly.

What you do with ever bit of your doing will most likely not leave a mark of any kind in one hundred years.
Yetl What you do, today and tomorrow may have a significant effect on people, animals and plants that share your journey.

I did not read Dune.
Everyone read Dune.
Dune seemed dark and pointless, too me.

A paragraph written by Richard Dawkins on meme sculpture of the Human Mind.
Spoiler:
The haven all memes depend on reaching is the human mind, but a human mind is itself an artifact created when memes restructure a human brain in order to make it a better habitat for memes. The avenues for entry and departure are modified to suit local conditions, and strengthened by various artificial devices that enhance fidelity and prolixity of replication: native Chinese minds differ dramatically from native French minds, and literate minds differ from illiterate minds. What memes provide in return to the organisms in which they reside is an incalculable store of advantages --- with some Trojan horses thrown in for good measure. . .

Some people seem to think what we read matters.

http://www.download1.ch/ebooks/educatio ... die-ebook/
Brodie seemed to think we have both a Right and a Responsibility to choose our Memes.

What Cultural References do you want to Catch?
Garbage In/Garbage Out. That is a Truth.

Computers may have come a long way, Baby.
Humans are the very same animal today they were 500 years ago.
edit:
To Catch References.
The Botany of Desire.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Botany_of_Desire

The fundamental science is pretty good in that book.
It was written by a Journalist. It is not hard to read.

How can we talk about plants with one another, if no one knows about Plants?
Fantasy Novels often carry a social message or social commentary.

Must we keep a dystopian nightmare at the forefront of our minds?
That is easy for some of us. We live in that world.

The truth about plants is Horrifing enough. Who need dystopia?

To Catch References and to Talk to other humans using shared Reference Points?
Freakonomics.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freakonomics

Is it a cultural reference when a person says, "Statistics show..."
Is it a cultural phenomena that those words are responded to with the words, "Statistics are used to lie."

Sometimes it is like a call and responds.
Thowing numbers around at a cocktail party is not showing statistics due respect.

Of course, Drawing a normal distribution on a table napkin, finding both the Range and the Mode of some attribute expressed within the group present and .....
Well...Easy statistics can be used to get thrown out of a CockTail Party.

It's not the number so much as the conclusion.
I thought Freakonomics was funny.

The authors might get themselves thrown out of a cocktail party, too.

I have had conversations bog down because the other person brought up one of those two subjects and then did not know anything about the subject.

Those two books are entertaining, easy to read and they introduce complex and opaque subject matter.
Nearly anyone can read those books. Each once holds a few cultural references.

If you don't know Haploid and Diploid, you can still know fungus and virus have interesting effects on plants and their human victims.
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Mon Apr 21, 2014 9:24 pm UTC

The bible, with what I'd recommend for a person not of an Abrahamic religion:
Spoiler:
Genisis - The hole thing, except the "Begats". The only thing from the begats was that there was a guy named "Methuselah" who lived along time and did nothing special.

Exodus- There's a movie (that I haven't seen) called "The Ten commandments" that probably covers the literary aspects.

Leviticus - You just need to know that this forbids homosexuality, witchcraft, shellfish and rock badgers.

Joshua first twelve chapters.

Judges chpts 13-16; Story of Sampson

Samuel one and two

Kings: Until Solomon dies.

Job

Proverbs: exactly what it says on the tin

Daniel

One of the gospels.

Acts (of the apostles)

Revelation
Of Mice and Men - Particularly references to kind hearted man-children crushing small animals by accident.

Gulliver's travels

1984, as mentioned.

Inferno, don't bother to read the rest of the Divine comedy, Dante dies before they were published and they're terrible.

I've been reading The Prince recently, the only reference to it I'd see you needing is the word "Machiavelian". The book isn't a novel, it's a history/political science textbook.

For The Art of War and your purposes, you might be fine just reading the bold quotes.

Moby Dick I read an abridged children's version (as a child) but that was good enough to get most of the references.

A Brave new World.

The Cask of Amontillado by Poe.

The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry. One probably wouldn't go wrong reading the whole collection of short stories that's bound with.

Tao te Ching by Lao Zi, at least the first few chapters.

101 Zen Stories, or similar. Many are obscure to westerners, but a few do come up. Actually this appears to be online. Not a long read, either.

I recommend against reading Shakespeare's plays' scripts, unless that seems like fun to you. There are a lot of adaptations of the plays, and unlike novels you're getting more information from the movie than the book because tone and connotation in plays usually aren't intended to be clear from the text alone.

Atlas Shrugged seems like it's worth knowing what's in it, but it's one of the longest books in the English language. Can anyone recommend a "good" abridged version?
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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby LaserGuy » Wed Apr 23, 2014 6:26 pm UTC

Atlas Shrugged seems like it's worth knowing what's in it, but it's one of the longest books in the English language. Can anyone recommend a "good" abridged version?


You can probably get the gist of it from reading one or two of her essays and a plot synopsis of the book. As far as novels go, Atlas Shrugged is pretty terrible.

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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby addams » Tue Apr 29, 2014 3:09 am UTC

Has Plato's Cave been added?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegory_of_the_Cave

I am pleased I was required to read it.
It is a very short story.

To read a translation is easy.
Then think it through.

Before the internet we often read books and essays and wrote or spoke about them,
before we read or spoke about the work at school.

Read it.
Make a guess, I guess.

Then talk about what other people think it is about.
What do you think it is about?
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby bigglesworth » Tue Apr 29, 2014 7:06 am UTC

Good example. It helps in understanding not only everything that references it directly, but also Gnostic ideas in general.
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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby Yablo » Tue Apr 29, 2014 9:36 pm UTC

addams wrote:Has Plato's Cave been added?

The allegory of the cave was a part of The Republic which was mentioned. The whole of The Republic is wonderful and really makes you think, but there aren't a ton of quotes I can remember. As far as it's effect on everyday life and thought though, it can't be beaten. Plato's philosophy is very much the foundation of the majority of Western thought. If you're looking for quotes, I'd recommend The Symposium, or the dialogues detailing the death of Socrates; Apology, Euthyphero, Crito, and Phaedro ... if I remember correctly.

Quizatzhaderac wrote:Inferno, don't bother to read the rest of the Divine comedy, Dante dies before they were published and they're terrible.

I personally prefer Purgatorio and Paradiso to Inferno. Inferno reminded me too much of the Iliad with all the name-dropping. Even still, "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here" is something I've heard people use in conversation.
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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:27 pm UTC

I found Purgatorio a decent read, but I don't think I've ever seen a reference to it. Paradiso just seems to have no drama.
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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby addams » Wed Apr 30, 2014 2:33 pm UTC

You are better men than I am.
I can not force myself to read some of that stuff.

I know the ideas are important.
I sometimes read essays about things I don't like.

The Iliad. (so boring)
I was supposed to read that.

I read the Crib Notes.
Wikipedia is The Best Thing Ever!

No one must read the Iliad.
Everyone can read the Wiki Notes.
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Wed Apr 30, 2014 3:00 pm UTC

I'm reading Paradise Lost right now, I keep wanting to rewrite it. For one thing the person who did the annotations for my version (Barnes and Noble classics) was either incompetent or just screwing with us. Epic poems themselves seem like an artifact of oral traditions; Milton's writing is far from snappy and the atoms are typically huge, so I imagine it'd be difficult (even relative to other epic poems) to memorize and recite it.
The thing about recursion problems is that they tend to contain other recursion problems.

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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby addams » Wed Apr 30, 2014 3:46 pm UTC

Quizatzhaderac wrote:I'm reading Paradise Lost right now, I keep wanting to rewrite it. For one thing the person who did the annotations for my version (Barnes and Noble classics) was either incompetent or just screwing with us. Epic poems themselves seem like an artifact of oral traditions; Milton's writing is far from snappy and the atoms are typically huge, so I imagine it'd be difficult (even relative to other epic poems) to memorize and recite it.

Like the JaberWalky?
Some people have a Natural Talent for that stuff.
Or; They develop one.

As for me.
The poems that make sense are hard enough for me to memorize.

I memorized parts of William Blake's Innocence.
I was forced to Memorize "To See World in a Wild Flower; Hold Infinity in the Palm of the Hand." line.

I memorized,
Some are born to sweet delight.
Some are born to endless night.

God appears and God is Light.
To those poor souls that dwell in Night.

But; Does a Human form display,
To those that dwell in realms of Day.


I have no idea, Why.
I was not compeled to do it from the outside.

With the internet at our beck and call,
Do we ever need to memorize anything other than Key Search Terms?

Oral Traditions can be a Hoot!
Who is telling this story?

Without a written copy or someone that can read it,
It becomes My Word against Your Word.

Shall we Shout One Anther Down?
What Happened to Noah??

I Know! I Know!
He grew up and sells drugs and jewelry at the corner.

Each person is a Novel Novel.
Ecclesiastes 12:12
King James Version
And further, by these, my son, be admonished : of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh.


Back to The Bible as a reference.
Keep one around to fact check.

I have heard people will make shit up.
The Truth is bad enough. Check.

Let other people glean the book for you.
Why not? Other people grind your Wheat.
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby addams » Wed May 07, 2014 4:15 am UTC

The Reading List for Summer

1. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams
2. Shakespeare
3. Orwell’s 1984
4. The Bible
5.Machiavelli's "The Prince"
6. Plato's Republic
7. Classical greek plays (Antigone, Oedipus, etc.)
8. The Odyssey
9. Aesop's Fables
10. Grimm's Fairy Tales
11. The Arabian Nights
12. William Blake
13. The Divine Comedy
14. Ovid's Metamorphoses
15. The Quiet American
16. Edgar Allen Poe
17. Catch 22
18. Cider House Rules
19. Hotel New Hampshire
20. Stranger in a Strange Land
21. Atlas Shrugged
22. Neitzche
23. Virus of the Mind
24. The Botany of Desire
25. Freakonomics
26. Of Mice and Men
27. Gulliver's travels
28. Cannery Row
29. The Art of War
30. Moby Dick
31. A Brave new World.
32. The Cask of Amontillado by Poe.
33. The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
34 Tao te Ching by Lao Zi,
35. Zen Stories
36. Kama Sutra
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby Quizatzhaderac » Wed May 07, 2014 2:32 pm UTC

The full list reminds me of an exchange in Biloxi Blues where an aspiring writer asks someone who's well read for suggestions on what to read.

His suggestion? The second floor. Of the metropolitan (NYC) library.
Last edited by Quizatzhaderac on Thu Aug 21, 2014 6:05 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby addams » Wed May 07, 2014 3:34 pm UTC

Quizatzhaderac wrote:The full list reminds me of an exchange in Biloxi Blues where an aspiring writer ask someone who's well read for suggestions on what to read.

His suggestion? The second floor. Of the metropolitan (NYC) library.

Have you read all 36, yet?
Summer Reading List?

See you in September.
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby wumpus » Mon May 12, 2014 3:16 pm UTC

I feel the need to plug Silverlock by John Myers Myers. Don't expect many to refer to it, just read it to start tracking down the references on your own (well, this was apparently popular until google came and did it for you). Silverlock is basically a romp through the literary landscape, and not to be missed.

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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby no-genius » Thu Jun 05, 2014 9:48 pm UTC

Jorge Luis Borges. Either Ficciones, or Labrinths (which is the one I've read, and is probably more widely printed?), there's a lot of overlap. Also the Dictionary Of Imaginary Beings is quite good, but from the point of view of this thread, it would be references to the mythologies, which it isn't exactly exhaustive.

HP Lovecraft. Mainly for references in Cthulhu mythos stories.
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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby addams » Fri Jun 06, 2014 1:01 am UTC

That is headed away for Normal Conversations.
If we go tottering off referencing New Fangled Fantasy,
then The Dancing Wu Li Masters is a Must Read.

And; The Math Gene by K. Devon.
And; Life By The Numbers also by K. Devon.
It is such a Great Book. It is a Child's Book.

Every child should Know why Tigers don't have Spots on their tails.
Keith Devon's friend did the Math. Those guys are not guessing.

They Know.
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby mathmannix » Fri Jun 06, 2014 1:25 pm UTC

In addition to those already mentioned:

Edwin Abbott: Flatland

H.G. Wells: The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, The Island of Dr. Moreau - those four are the most culturally significant / reference-worthy, but it wouldn't hurt to read more by him, so it might be best to just get an anthology.

Mark Twain: The Adventuers of Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Prince and the Pauper, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Pudd'nhead Wilson

Stories by Edgar Allan Poe: read the complete works, or a good anthology. In addition to "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Cask of Amontillado" mentioned above, there's "The Pit and the Pendulum", "The Gold Bug", "The Fall of the House of Usher", "The Murders in the Rue Morgue", and "The Masque of the Red Death". All worth reading and at least occasionally alluded to. He was pretty much the founder of two whole genres of English-language literature: psychological thrillers and detective mysteries.

Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe

Richard Connell's short story "The Most Dangerous Game"

Ray Bradbury's short story "A Sound of Thunder"

Shirley Jackson's short story "The Lottery"
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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby alurker » Tue Aug 05, 2014 10:17 am UTC

Here are some works not mentioned so far.

Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland (Down the Rabbit Hole), followed by:
Through the Looking-Glass, both sources of many characters, phrases and ideas;

Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories;

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra's Don Quixote (Don Quijote de la Mancha) for the terms Quixotic, tilting at windmills;

William Golding's Lord of the Flies for the concept that humans tend to evil, holding the conch;

Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island for the pirate's ditty;

Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness for the character Kurtz, the words "The Horror, the horror", the inspiration for the film Apocalypse Now;

Franz Kafka's works for the term "Kafkaesque" and concepts such as alienation and bureaucracy: The Metamorphosis, The Trial and The Castle;

Oscar Wilde's works (I noticed a quote in addams' signature), including his one novel The Picture of Dorian Gray;

Mary Wollstonecraft's Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus;

Bram Stoker's Dracula.

The above list is just from the top of my head, but there are certainly others, not forgetting important non fiction such as biographies, essays and letters.

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Re: Books necessary to catch references

Postby rmsgrey » Mon Aug 11, 2014 3:09 pm UTC

Many, many stories with robots in refer to Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics - though they usually explain them if the details are going to matter so you probably don't need to read any of the short stories or novels to understand the reference. They are:

1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
2) A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

Another Law that's widely referenced is Clarke's Third Law (sometimes just "Clarke's Law") - "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic"

It has been argued that one reason we still use "Renaissance Man" to describe someone who is well educated in a wide variety of fields is that the Renaissance was the last period of human history where there was a shared corpus which all educated people (at least all educated people that counted) could be expected to be familiar with.

It's probably also worth tracking down whatever your local region's indigenous myths and legends are - here in the UK: Norse mythology (the inspiration for Marvel's Thor); Celtic mythology; Arthurian legend; Robin Hood.

for English cultural history:

Shakespeare (stick to the ones you've heard of - the others are rather more forgettable)
Jane Austen - the big three: Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, and Emma
Kipling - Jungle Book (and sequel?), Just So Stories, Puck of Pook's Hill (and sequel)
J M Barrie - Peter Pan and Wendy ("second to the right and then straight on till morning", "To die will be an awfully big adventure")
Tolkien (Whatever you think of his prose style, the man cast a long shadow over the fantasy genre)


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