What Should Any Educated Person Know?

Tuck­er Max cre­ates a list of what he believes is the inform­a­tion any edu­cated per­son should know. By no means a defin­it­ive list (far from it), but some good inform­a­tion regard­less.

Eng­lish lit: Read lots of nov­els, espe­cially the clas­sics. There are hun­dreds of sites out there that pur­port to list the West­ern Can­on, browse a few and just start read­ing. It gives you a base from which to work and to under­stand the world. Almost all cul­ture is based on pre­vi­ous culture–you can­not hope to under­stand mod­ern media without exper­i­en­cing the base it is built on. And don’t just focus on the obvi­ous ones like Shakespeare and Chau­cer; there are a lot of writers on the mar­gins of the can­on who are just as good. A few things to remem­ber:
1. If you don’t under­stand some­thing, don’t just quit. Shakespeare is hard to get through without the guid­ance of someone who can place it in con­text for you and help you wade through the lan­guage. Some things you need to take in a classroom set­ting, but if thats impossible, don’t be afraid to use a study aid or read a crit­ic­al essay. It does not make you stu­pid to ask for help; quite the con­trary, know­ing your lim­its is very wise. [But at the same time, just because some­thing is in the can­on, doesn’t auto­mat­ic­ally make it good. For instance, I think James Joyce is pretty shitty.]
2. This is not easy. It’s not sup­posed to be.

Update: Tuck­er Max has since taken down his mes­sage board and the ori­gin­al post was lost. I believe the copy linked-to above is the best cur­rently avail­able.