The Boredom Hymn of the Repugnant

I frequently review books, and often find that they studiously avoid the use of charts, tables, or formulas, even when such devices would make the text much clearer. I’ve seen paragraphs that were essentially the rows and columns of some unseen table, written out in English prose — horrible. No doubt the publisher advised against any hint of mathematics so as not to scare off potential buyers. I can’t help but wonder whether the alleged aversion is exaggerated in the minds of publishers, to the detriment of readers everywhere.

Anyway, my annoyance with books written for these hypothetical chartophobes inspired me to hijack the tune to The Battle Hymn of the Republic (“Mine Eyes Have Seen The Glory …”) in order to create a song for all those imaginary potential buyers the publishers don’t want to scare off. Sing it, please, to these fine instrumentals:

The Boredom Hymn of the Repugnant

Mine eyes have just glazed over
‘Cause this book contains a graph.
How dare they put this in here,
In high school I sucked at math.
I want constant entertainment,
Not some complicated task.
In truth I’m a moron.

Sorry, moron did we LOSE ya?
Oh, we didn’t mean to LOSE ya.
No, we can’t afford to LOSE ya,
So we’ll dumb the book down.

Oh, my parents blamed my teachers
For my lack of aptitude,
While my teachers cursed my parents
When I was bored, asleep, or rude.
Books just can’t hold my attention,
‘Less there’s some babe in there nude.
In truth I’m a moron.

Sorry, moron did we LOSE ya?
Oh, we didn’t mean to LOSE ya.
No, we can’t afford to LOSE ya,
So we’ll dumb the book down.

Just kidding. Mostly.

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One Comment

  1. Posted July 28, 2011 at 4:35 am | Permalink | Reply

    Publishers, if you really think that people are turned off by formulas/charts/graphs, why not have an appendix or two with the gory details, for people who aren’t allergic?

    And now that ebooks are becoming popular, how about writing books so that they can be read in two modes — e.g. lite mode and power mode, or somesuch — where the former just doesn’t show scary blocks of text? In print editions, those blocks could appear at the bottom of the page, footnoted, or collected in an appendix.

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