Really. You just wouldn't.
August 20, 2005 11:01 AM   Subscribe

You Wouldn't Want To Be ... an Eqyptian Mummy, a Slave in Ancient Greece, or even an Aztec Sacrifice ... would you? The "You Wouldn't Want To" series of children's educational books is written by various experts and viscerally illustrated by David Antram. Conveniently enough, "You Wouldn't" contributor and former Cambridge professor Fiona Macdonald has also written a series of "How To Be" books. (via JessicaHarbour)
posted by grabbingsand (28 comments total)

 
Cool!
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:12 AM on August 20, 2005


my library circulates many of these books, and they are indeed quite cool.
posted by mcsweetie at 11:29 AM on August 20, 2005


The illustrations and cover art are awesome. I found this list on amazon that has most of the books and you can click through to see more cover art.
posted by Emperor Yamamoto's Eggs at 12:31 PM on August 20, 2005


Maybe I want to be a Viking explorer.
posted by euphorb at 12:31 PM on August 20, 2005


Disturbing. Highlight the worst parts of other people's cultures, then reinforce a message of cultural hegemony. Isn't the subtext that the way things are now is the best? I've always thought the best way to learn from history is to highlight the similarities between the past and the present. (I'm also reminded of Brave New World: "you wouldn't want to be an alpha, they have to think all the time...")

Pointless academic arguments aside, the books look hilarious.
posted by gregv at 12:42 PM on August 20, 2005


I gotta admit I wouldn't want to be those people.

I do wish I was a renaissance man, though. A fellow could be quite productively inventive without having to have a PhD in specialized knowledge.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:49 PM on August 20, 2005


Disturbing. Highlight the worst parts of other people's cultures, then reinforce a message of cultural hegemony.

Since when do passengers on the Titanic, Civil War soldiers or pirate prisoners constitute anything resembling a culture?
posted by crank at 2:17 PM on August 20, 2005


Disturbing. Highlight the worst parts of other people's cultures, then reinforce a message of cultural hegemony.

I think it's okay to do away with cultural relativism when it comes to slavery and human sacrifice, but that's just my opinion and maybe it's only true for me.
posted by thirteenkiller at 2:39 PM on August 20, 2005


The books really seem to have it in for the late 1800s. I want one called "You really wouldn't want to be Bill 'The Butcher.'"
posted by maxsparber at 3:11 PM on August 20, 2005


You wouldn't want to be Pablo Escobar... in the end. You wouldn't want to be a rape victim... you wouldn't want to be in prison... you wouldn't want to be in Guantanamo bay....

You would want to be Montezuma... before Cortez... eating all that damn chocoatl. You would want to be an Eqyptian Pharaoh....

Wow. I think I might have just realized that in every culture there are people I both would and wouldn't want to be.
posted by zach4000 at 3:28 PM on August 20, 2005


I think it's okay to do away with cultural relativism when it comes to slavery and human sacrifice, but that's just my opinion and maybe it's only true for me.
posted by thirteenkiller at 2:39 PM PST on August 20 [!]


Heh. This is going in my quotable Metafilter .txt.
posted by ori at 3:42 PM on August 20, 2005


MetaFilter: You wouldn't want to be a member.
posted by sfslim at 3:43 PM on August 20, 2005


Isn't the subtext that the way things are now is the best?

Actually they are working hard on a follow-up, "You Don't Want to Live Here!: You'd Rather Not Live in the Present." It's mostly about globalization, terrorism and global warming.
posted by ori at 3:53 PM on August 20, 2005


I'm with FFF in the renaissance sculpting nudies and drinking! So what if we have lice and bad teeth!
posted by snsranch at 4:30 PM on August 20, 2005


You wouldn't want to be a soldier/civilian in Iraq.
posted by Balisong at 4:37 PM on August 20, 2005


I should think your lice and bad teeth would be most appropriate for the Renaissance period, snsnranch.

So long as I were allowed to live more or less unburdened by interference by those who are actually running things, and had enough to eat, I think I could be pretty happy in most any time.

It's never been so much what I have, as what I need. I need food, shelter, love, safety. Gimme that, and I can do okay.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:20 PM on August 20, 2005


I think you're rather overestimating the availability of most of those necessities over much of the globe over much of history, five fresh fish. How much assurance of food, shelter, or safety did the average western European peasant have through much of the last 1500 years? Extrapolate over the globe as necessary.

That "and had enough to eat" is a real catch.
posted by Justinian at 5:58 PM on August 20, 2005


Well, yeah. That's why I specified it.

I wouldn't mind being a king, too, so long as I get to keep my head to a ripe old age.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:47 PM on August 20, 2005


And I wouldn't mind being a Pope, as long as I could have sex.
posted by maxsparber at 8:35 PM on August 20, 2005


most of them did, max. it's only recently they've pretended to be saintly.
posted by amberglow at 10:26 PM on August 20, 2005


You would want to be a middle-class white teenager from the eastern suburbs of Louisville, KY: you'd get to see Dark New Day for free at the State Fair, courtesy of Mom and Dad, who'll drive you, your little brother, your boyfriend and and his geeky cousin down in the minivan -- and sit with you the whole time too. Dad might even wave his lighter and bang his head as if he were ever young, and why is Mom wearing a midriff-baring chiffon T-shirt after three C-sections?

Is that normal now? Back in my day the parents would not want to hear loud crunchy electric noise, and the kids would have rather not go than have sit with their parents. I mean I didn't mind sharing Lawrence Welk and Johnny Cash with my Dad, but Aerosmith was strictly off limits to the old folks; then too I lived in the city where I could sneak off and take a 10-minute bus ride downtown to crash a Kiss show whether they liked it or not.

It's bad enough that today's "new" bands sound just like the punk-metal bands from when their parents were first dating. Has there been anything new in rock since the late '80s?

I wouldn't want to be a kid today. The poor dears. Stuck in a minivan in traffic in a big botch of a culture. What's the point of being middle-class and white if you have to live like that?

But anyway.

[end digression]
posted by davy at 10:53 PM on August 20, 2005


"You would want to be a middle-class white teenager from the eastern suburbs of Louisville"

That was an editing failure. Figure it out; I'm too tired to.
posted by davy at 10:54 PM on August 20, 2005


I said: "You would want to be a middle-class white teenager from the eastern suburbs of Louisville"

Then I said: "That was an editing failure. Figure it out; I'm too tired to."

Now I think it was an attempt at sarcasm that I meandered off the track from. Why can't that happen only in political threads where nobody will ever notice?

And come to think of it, Lawrence Welk was what I shred with Mom, while Johnny Cash was Dad's music. Yes O fellow Mefites, I spent my childhood bouncing back and forth between "What Do You Get When You Fall In Love?" and "A Boy Named Sue".

But anyway. I'm not sure I'd want to be comfortably middle-class in ancient Athens either: all those donkeys and chamber pots and they walked around in sandals. EEEWWW.
posted by davy at 11:28 PM on August 20, 2005


thirteenkiller:

That was the funniest thing I've read this month. Thank you.
posted by rdr at 5:44 AM on August 21, 2005


Hmm, I get what they are trying to do, but find the illustrations off-putting and cartoony rather than appealing ... I am also disturbed by the fact that seemingly the *only* title from a Native American perspective is on Aztec human sacrifice.
posted by gudrun at 11:05 AM on August 21, 2005


Davy sez: I mean I didn't mind sharing Lawrence Welk and Johnny Cash with my Dad, but Aerosmith was strictly off limits to the old folks

Davy, nowadays Aerosmith is Lawrence Welk. Lawrence Welk is now Beethoven. And nobody but hyper strung-out geeks even know who the hell Beethoven is at all.
posted by localroger at 5:03 PM on August 21, 2005


Bill and Ted knew Beeth oven.
posted by maxsparber at 7:00 PM on August 21, 2005


localroger, I've grown so old I have mildew on my mold.
posted by davy at 8:28 PM on August 21, 2005


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