Meet the UI Press is a recurring feature that delves into issues affecting academic publishing, writing, education, and related topics. Today, industry advice columnist The Bolshevik answers your questions.
The other day it occurred to me that literacy is killing us. Over and over, I hear the phrase “I read that…” followed by a dump of ignorance. Even in my own life, most of my bouts of depression and/or rage come as a result of reading. I know lots of great books find a way into the world, and I have opened a few, but I’m starting to think literacy is like petroleum: it’s given us a lot, but takes away far, far too much.
—Signed, Better Unread than Dead
Dear Better: I agree. I myself spent last month refusing to read. On the first of the month, I vowed to spend my free time with beauty and classical music. By the Ides, I was watching videos of kangaroo street fights in Australia. Maybe, then, books are like soda: certain to kill us, but more slowly than vodka.
Is aftershave still widely used? Or does it belong to that part of the consumer economy we refer to as Old Man Products? Remember Old Spice? What great commercials. Some male model in a turtleneck wanders the streets in a temperate, clean port city. As he ambles about he turns female heads with his scent and dimples. “From where did this foxy yachtsman set sail?” the women ask, as the familiar sea-pipe tune plays in the background. He’d throw the jacket over his shoulder, forego the compulsory tests for parasites, and head over to Her Place for shore leave. Now, on the rare occasions I see an ad for a scent, it is for a young men’s cologne and has EXTREME in the name. Does the modern man of today turn thirty and just give up on smelling good, as he does on so many other things?
—Signed, Buoys and Girls
Dears Buoys: The Bolshevik sees pretty much everything as related to the exploitation and decline of the working class. Aftershave is no different. Once a core olfactory component of the atmosphere at everything from sawdust-floored bars to the Moose Lodge, aftershave became less and less important as capitalists sent blue collar jobs out of the country, for our working men used it most to cover up the noble odors of the field, the garage, and the shop floor. In fact, the UIP has an acclaimed book on working class masculinity that, while overlooking the role of aftershave, goes into a great many other aspects of the culture. Our toiling forefathers sought out Hai Karate. Now their white collar descendants settle for the odor of Axe. A tragedy.