I wasn’t entirely surely that they made haterade quite this strong, but what a powerful brew it must take for Ron Rosenbaum to write almost 2,300 words decrying the evil — and this at best 25 percent jocular — of crossword puzzles and sodoku. I really can’t just quote parts of it, because the entire piece is pervaded by such a level of shrill and misdirected rage that a mere quote would fail to capture even the smallest fraction of its inanity. The argument, which was not particularly well constructed, follows from the basic premise that each moment spent playing puzzles at once deprives the world of creative brain power and stagnates the enrichment of the puzzler’s life. Finally, Rosenbaum lands at this conclusion, which it seems, actually surprises him.
That sometimes one only wants numbness. One doesn’t want to be reminded of the full-blooded life that one can find in reading. That full-blooded life can only make one think of the death that awaits you or someone you love.
In that case, one wants to avoid the kind of opening up to the world that reading threatens. One wants to close it off and prevent it. One wants a dimmer switch. One wants crosswords or sudoku to block out thought. It can serve a consolatory function, like religion.
It would be a waste of both my time and yours to go through this point by point, but I’d like to think that a Yale Phi Beta Kappa (as Rosenbaum assures us he is) would at least sense the irony inherent in a histrionic 2,300 word screed criticizing crosswords as mentally masturbatory.