Saturday, July 2, 2011

Superman Comes to the Superbookstore

Today's Times reports that as Hugo Chavez recovers from cancer surgery, he is reading Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra. I expect the Venezuelan dictator views himself as a Superman, but question whether he's reading the book.

Maybe not the best choice
Political leaders frequently advertise their reading habits. Ronald Reagan savored the Western novels of Louis L'Amour and awarded L'Amour the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Reagan was elected twice to the Presidency. Al Gore broadcast his love for Stendhal's The Red and the Black and was advised by Naomi Wolf to wear "earth tones." George W. Bush and his adviser Karl Rove engaged in a public reading contest that seems mostly to have earned them both public ridicule.

Reading habits may be a window into the soul but thanks to social media tools they also are are a means of advertising our constructed personae. Does anyone doubt that an army of earnest Mt. Holyoke juniors is busy polishing Barack Obama's Virtual Bookshelf? I for one can't wait for Michelle Bachmann's Goodreads page.

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