In Praise of False Industry.

by Alexa on March 28, 2013

Scott was trying to tell me about a book, but he couldn’t remember the title—all he could manage was that it was called “In Praise of [some word LIKE 'whipping,' but NOT 'whipping'].” I went to Amazon and did a search for “In Praise of,” and while I did not find the book he was talking about (chiefly because the book he was talking about was actually called “In Defense of Flogging” ), I did find evidence that beginning a book title with the phrase “In Praise of” is very popular indeed.

Naturally, I scrolled through the first 20 pages and compiled a list of the things authors have deemed sufficiently praiseworthy as to demand a book-length volume devoted to said praise. I included only the books whose titles followed a specific format: “In Praise of _____.” This excluded, for instance “Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women” (just as well, as I cannot abide Ms. Wurtzel) and similar constructions, of which there were also quite a few.

I’m not going to explain to you why I spent part of my afternoon scrolling through Amazon results to compile this list of Praiseworthy Subjects (though yes, now that you mention it, I WAS avoiding something more pressing, however did you guess?) because surely my hobbies are my own affair. I won’t judge your participation in an Ultimate Frisbee League, and in turn I’d appreciate you reserving comment on the two hours I recently spent with the Wikipedia entry for “List of People Who Were Beheaded.”

So!

A List of Things Authors Have Felt Compelled to Praise in Book Form:

Shadows
Messy Lives
Hangovers
Slowness
Stay-at-Home Moms
Love
Doubt
Reason
Idleness
Spies
Younger Men
Nepotism
Folly
Older Women
Dharmadhatu
Barbarians
Chickens
Athletic Beauty
Hard Industries
Black Women
Krishna
Reading and Fiction
Blandness
The Goddess
Copying
Indecency
The Needlewoman
Tomatoes
Mountain Waters
Prejudice
Commercial Culture
Slow
Imperfection
Jamaica
Plants
The Stepmother
Hiddenness
The Whip
Animals
Christian Origins
Science
The New Knighthood
Oxen
Olympus
Plan B
Women
Empires
The Free Market and Peace
Mother Earth
Nonsense
Speculation
Followers
Pecans
Poverty
Our Teachers
The Crone
Flattery
Antiheroes
Wine
Rumi
The Common
Deadlock
Philosophy
Virtue
The Irish
Nature
Education
The Cognitive Emotions
Plato’s Poetic Imagination
Wild Trout

Leave a Comment

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Susie March 28, 2013 at 9:18 pm

Nonetheless, I AM feeling judged for my participation in Ultimate Frisbee Leagues. Sigh.

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Alexa March 29, 2013 at 10:03 am

I am fairly terrified of frisbees, but if you want to take your life in your hands, Susie, who am I to stop you?

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kim l March 28, 2013 at 9:21 pm

I really like “in praise of folly”.

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Jennifer Gilbert March 28, 2013 at 10:25 pm

Finally, wild trout get the accolades they so richly deserve.

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Alexa March 29, 2013 at 10:04 am

I feel bad for the other trout, though. It isn’t THEIR fault that they aren’t wild. Who will praise them?

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Robin March 29, 2013 at 11:50 am

Well, I think “In Praise of Pecans” would be a particularly gripping read. Maybe there’s an entire chapter devoted to pronunciation!

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Robin March 29, 2013 at 11:52 am

Oh, also, “In Praise of Flattery.”

Because, GAHHHH. Praisey praise.

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Emily March 29, 2013 at 2:18 pm

The authors of ‘…Younger Men’ and ‘…Older Women’ need to collaborate, methinks. Unless it’s the same person, in which case… man, maybe branch out a little, huh?

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Life of a Doctor's Wife March 31, 2013 at 8:34 am

What with all this praise of “Idleness” and “The Common” and “Slowness” AND “Slow” (although I am now irritated by the failure of that last author to take the last step from adjective to noun – perhaps “slow” means “not all there in the brain space” in this case”?) I feel that some of these authors are a leeeeetle bit defensive.

I am also cheered to see “The Whip” on this page – not because I in any way see it as worthy of praise (perhaps I am a good candidate for the no-doubt irresistible persuasion of the book?), but because it makes me feel that Scott is vindicated a little in his misremembering of the Flogging book.

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Carrie (in MN, St. Paul as a matter of fact) April 2, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Oxen? Oxen. That’s my favorite.

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Alexicographer April 3, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Oh, sure, sure, Older Women, Younger Men, Oxen, Wild Trot. But where is “the Blog?” In praise of …

This list looks suspiciously 20th century to me.

Actually, come to think of it, if one (me, for instance, or, say, you) were to try googling “‘In Praise of’ blog” an entirely (?) new list of praiseworthy items would pop up. Just on the off chance that, you know, your hobby needs a new direction.

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Kirsten April 5, 2013 at 12:50 am

How about In Praise of Tame Mascots?

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courtney April 8, 2013 at 1:52 pm

both “Slow” AND “Slowness”?! that’s just strange.

this is only tangentially related but I feel confident you’ll appreciate it–years ago, my husband & I ran across a book called _Consider the Eel_, a phrase that’s remained a constant & vivid conversational presence ever since: “I know you don’t want to order Thai food, but consider–” “the eel?” “…no, that we don’t have any groceries in the house.”

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