Via Sarapen: this Guardian article assembles a list of several intellectuals’ guilty pleasures.
I loved the ambivalence of AC Grayling’s entry:
Boxing should be banned, of course: it causes brain damage, and there is something questionable about the pleasure taken by spectators in watching men hitting one another. And yet… there is also something noble about boxing…
The solitude of the boxer before his opponent, the stripped-down, unfurnished, essential nature of man pitted against man, in a bare space roped off from the rest of the world, sums up everything about courage. In its way boxing recapitulates something ancient, almost primordial, about human striving, with a rough beauty all its own.
It should, though, be banned.
And of Roger Scruton’s:
Although I argue vehemently against modern pop music, on grounds of its musical incompetence, verbal impoverishment and general morbidity, narcissism and salaciousness; although I fiercely object to disco dancing as a sacrilege against the human form and a collective rejection of civilised courtship; although I defend reels, minuets, galliards, sarabands and (as limiting cases) waltzes and polkas as the only ways in which ordinary humanity should dare to put its sexual nature on festive display, and although I regard the 12-bar blues and the flattened subdominant seventh as the lowest forms of vulgarity in music, I find rock’n’roll in general, and Elvis in particular, irresistible, and would happily dance away the night to it. I cannot explain the thrill of delight with which I hear the first bars of Jailhouse Rock or the eagerness with which I at once search the vicinity for a partner: but there it is, appalling proof that, despite all my efforts, I am human.
I have to agree with Sarapen, though, that the pick of the list must go to Zizek:
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?
It’s an interesting thing, guilty pleasures: intellectual life itself is mine… As a child, for the most part, I had to hide intellectual pursuits: I read in secret, hid everything I wrote, and worked very hard – and generally unsuccessfully – not to engage publicly in those forms of behaviour that would cause any adult within earshot to look at me sharply and demand: “Are you trying to be smart?!”. As a teenager, in order to get into a better school outside my home district, I enlisted the support of kind strangers to help me construct an elaborate fictitious home life in an appropriate geographical location (it still amazes me, the luck I had, finding people who helped me arrange such things…) – and, when that school wasn’t as challenging as I had hoped, I then became both a consummate forger of excused absence notes and an incorrigible delinquent: skipping classes and sneaking off campus whenever I could – possibly the only truant whose regular haunt was the local university library, where I would hide in the stacks and read all day… The result of this odd background is that I am now living my guilty pleasures… Does this mean I should be reflecting on the ones I don’t feel guilty about?