The Guardian recently asked a bunch of intellectuals to name their guilty pleasures. (No Germans were asked, tragically). My favorites:
Slavoj Zizek, Slovenian sociologist, cultural critic: Military PC games
I play them compulsively, enjoying the freedom to dwell in the virtual space where I can do with impunity all the horrible things I was always dreaming of – killing innocent civilians, burning churches and houses, betraying allies… Plato was right: there are only two kinds of people on this earth, those who dream about doing horrible things and those who actually do them.
My favourite game? Stalin Subway, a Russian one: Moscow 1952, the player is a KGB investigator, called by Stalin Himself to unearth the plot to kill Stalin and other members of the Politburo. One can arrest and kill suspects at one’s will. If one wins, one gets a medal from Stalin and Beria! What more can one expect in this miserable life?
Stanley Fish, literary theorist, legal scholar: Country music
Every time I return to it after an absence, I am struck again by the power and integrity of country music. In part it is the lyrics, self-consciously clever ("If I said you have a beautiful body, would you hold it against me?"), alert to and accepting of contradictions ("She’s a Saturday night out on the town/Church on Sunday girl"), precise in their observation of small detail ("She left the suds in the bucket and the clothes hanging out on the line"). In part it is the structuring of a narrative (usually unabashedly maudlin) by a line that gradually changes meaning, as when George Jones sings, "He stopped loving her today", and reveals in the last verse that he has stopped only because he is dead. In part it is the affirmation and exploration of a raunchy Christianity that holds drinking, cheating, criminality and Jesus in a volatile and energising mix. In part it is the extraordinary musicianship of pianists, fiddlers and guitarists who bear comparison to members of any symphony orchestra. And most of all it is the fact that when I’m in the car searching for something to listen to, the sound of country music, even in just a few notes, is unmistakable. Country music knows what it is.