Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Three Surprise Hits from Late 2013 [2496]

One of the oldest posts on New Savanna, Sex, Power, and Purity in Kawajiri’s Ninja Scroll, is approaching 40,000 hits after almost four years; but many posts, regardless of when they’ve been posted, fail to get even 100 hits. There are posts that I expect to generate an above average number of hits – though my sense of average is only informal and intuitive, as I do not count and calculate – and sometimes I’m right about that, but not always. In general I have little idea of how many hits a given post will attract.

Three posts from last year surprised me. Each is among the top ten post popular posts on New Savanna. The three of them are the only posts from 2013 that have so far broken into the top ten. They’re quite different in character.

All of the other posts in the top 10 are older than these three. I think I know why the Kawajiri post has been so popular; it’s about a popular anime film and it’s about sex. Four of the other top ten posts are about cartoons – two about Disney’s Fantasia, one about the pink elephants sequence in Dumbo, and one about a Road Runner cartoon. None of the three from 2013 are about cartoons or sex.

Why are these three so popular?

To Jeff Turpin: Stop Whacking the Post-Structuralists, They’re NOT the Problem was posted on December 12, 2013. It has 2357 hits as of early morning July 9 and is the sixth most popular post. As far as I can tell this post would appeal only to academics, which is one reason I’ve been surprised by its popularity. Given the nature of my posts, I assume that much of my audience is academic, but none of the other top ten posts seem primarily academic in nature.

I figure that this post appeals to post-structuralists because they’re used to getting bludgeoned, particularly by people (scholars in the physical and social sciences as well as civilians) who often are not very well acquainted with their scholarship. But it may also be getting read by critics of post-structuralism who find my defense a bit surprising. For I argue that, despite all the Sturm und Drang surrounding post-structuralist literary criticism, that work is essentially continuous with preceding criticism in that it simply provides philosophical cover for the fact that literary critics are unable to reach agreement in their interpretations of specific works. As long as we use interpretation as our means of assessing the meaning of literary works, that meaning will prove to be indeterminate.

The Rise and Fall Steven Fitzhugh Regensburg, Horn Maker to the ADA went up on November 23, 2013. With 2016 hits, it’s in eighth place. The popularity of this post is and is not puzzling.

It’s an absurd satire of the equipment fetishism that afflicts trumpet players, many of whom seem to think that if only they get a trumpet with just the right mojo juju they’ll finally be able to play the trumpet with skill, grace, and flash, lots of flash. So, it’s a post aimed at trumpet players, who are, I suspect, vastly outnumbered by guitar players and even more so by people who don’t play any musical instrument at all. The post’s natural audience thus seems rather a narrow one, and not one I’ve cultivated.

Still, I did post a link on a listserve that goes out to lots of trumpet players and I’ve got lots of trumpet players among my Facebook friends. Beyond that, I’d like to think that the satire is good enough that it would appeal to people who’ve been terrorized by this or that trumpet player and by people with no particular interest in or knowledge of trumpeters.

Finally, in tenth place we have The Hunt for Genius, Part 5: Three Elite Schools. It went up on October 15th, 2013 and, as of this posting, has 1767 hits. This is the fifth in a series of posts about the MacArthur Foundation’s Fellows Program. What surprises me about this one is that it is so much more popular than any of the other posts in that series, none of which made 500, though three posts did over 100 hits each. I’d have figured that anyone who read this post would have been interested in the other posts in the series and no doubt a few readers were. But obviously not many of them.

I figure that the people who read this post were people interested in elite schools (Johns Hopkins, SUNY Buffalo in the 1970s, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) and that interest didn’t extent to the MacArthur Fellowships, which I discuss only at the end of the post. If you want to compare your experience at elite schools with mine, or if you want to see what you missed by not going to an elite school, or see what your children will encounter if and when they go to an elite school, this post would appeal to you. The posts on the Fellowship Program are rather abstract while this post is fairly concrete, discussing specific people and events at those three schools.

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Previous posts on what’s popular on New Savanna:
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I’m on a countdown to post number 2500. This is #2496.

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