Norton Unwieldy Doorstop of English Literature’s Greatest Hits

Guess who’s coming out with a greatest hits album?

Let me rephrase that.

Guess why some insanely elitist music snob is cutting off the part of skin on their arm where they had the Anti-Flag logo tattooed?

And guess why Kathryn made up a music snob that’s elitist to such comically exorbitant measures that they would respond to the release of a greatest hits album in such a way?

Because, rhetoric.

In some circles, greatest hits albums are Not Okay. Usually, they’re Not Okay merely to own, but… I’m exaggerating in order to make a point. Greatest hits albums are for, like, “posers” who only want to listen to the songs that the royal They play on the radio. You know, posers who don’t listen to the whole album that the song originally came out on. Posers who don’t even know about, let alone listen to, the b-sides. Posers who buy albums put out by major labels. Come to think of it, I don’t know why my hypothetical music snob didn’t cut out the tattoo when Anti-Flag signed to a major label for, like, two albums.

My real point has to do with the subject of a covetous post I wrote back in October, a post that was much more concise and focused than this one. But when you’ve had, like, four cups of coffee within the period of twenty minutes, well…some fucks you no longer give. OH MY GOSH, BUT HERE COMES THE REAL POINT:

The Norton Unwieldy Doorstop of English Literature may fall tragically short as a token of English major bravado, assuming English major bravado is anything like English major street cred – bravado and street cred which may have slight nuances of difference, but that’s not the point either. The Norton Unwieldy Doorstop of English Literature, all things considered, is more like the Norton Unwieldy Doorstop of English Literature’s Greatest Hits. It’s not even one band’s author’s greatest hits, either, it’s like the literary canon’s equivalent of Now That’s What I Call Music. And, well, it would be embarrassing to fetishize such a thing, oui? Especially if you were the kind of person who would get all condemning about greatest hits albums.

The works included in the Norton are there because the royal They decided that the works were important and radio-worthy. Not only that, the longer prose and poetry are excerpted. Holding an anthology like the Norton on such a high pedestal would not be something any self-respecting snob would do. The hypothetical snob, or how I imagine the hypothetical snob, wouldn’t just be reading the popular Seamus Heaney poems, but also the b-sides; b-sides that would come in the form of a musty paperback from an independent used bookstore that will be cool next week, but not this week, the week when Hypothetical Snob patronizes it. That’s one of the reasons why the Hypothetical Snob is The Real Thing.

I had another point about the Norton falling short, but it depended on some possibly-bad information I once received, that W.W. Norton is really owned by the Textbook Companies That Own EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD EVER Except For The Independent Used Bookstore That Won’t Be Mainstream-Cool Until The Week After Hypothetical Snob Shops There. (Maybe the buy-out is what made it mainstream-cool?) However, some quick and superficial research has revealed that W.W. Norton is an independent publisher. At least that’s what it says on the heading for their website. There might be some huge conspiracy not even the internet could tell me, but the Hypothetical Snob could.

The again, independent labels can put out greatest hits albums, too.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go pour hydrogen-peroxide on an arm wound I don’t have, because the mere thought of cutting a tattoo out of my skin makes me hurt – and I don’t even have a tattoo, lot alone an Anti-Flag one. But if I did have an Anti-Flag tattoo, I’d get the girl from The Terror State album art on my lower back. Like a tramp stamp from hell.

The art you have to take the sleeve off to see.

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