All flavor, no substance

Why I Don’t Love Gödel, Escher, Bach.

This person merely doesn’t love it. I, however, detest that turd of a book. I read it once and read parts of it again because I couldn’t believe anyone could treat such lightweight twaddle so reverentially.

The book is written like I would’ve written a similar book when I was 9, and with about the same intellectual heft. It’s a pamphlet that ballooned into a doorstop.

This also particularly bothered me about the work.

This sort of cursory engagement with the cultural features of the book ends up undermining one of the book’s major selling points: I had originally seen it as the work of a polymath effortlessly weaving fields together into a multifaceted but uniform whole, but in reality, areas that are more than a step or two outside Hofstadter’s areas of expertise (computer science, formal logic, some of the more mathematically rigorous bits of cognitive science) are at best shallow, and at worst are “…heaping scorn…” on things Hofstadter doesn’t understand and doesn’t appear to want to understand.

Hofstadter reminds me of people who aren’t really all that smart but drop “well, actually” into every conversation. In terms of one of my favorite movies, Hof is a Caleb who thinks he is a Nathan. He was also a precursor to and a progenitor of people like Jonah Lehrer and Malcolm Gladwell, and that is bad enough in itself.