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The Importance of Being Trivial

Ovvero, l’importanza di quelle informazioni curiose ma totalmente inutili che fanno fare bella figura in una conversazione al pub e si dimenticano subito dopo. In inglese si chiamano trivia, e Mark Mason le ha studiate a fondo. Ha scoperto che interessano soprattutto agli uomini. Vediamo perché. By Mark Worden - LANGUAGE LEVEL C1 (ADVANCED)

Mark Mason (Standard British accent)

Hi, my name’s Mark Mason. The book I’m talking about is The Importance of Being Trivial, which is a look at why people – and it tends to be men – are fascinated by so-called pub facts, those useless little snippets of information that slip down the back of life’s sofa. And I looked into why we’re fascinated with them. It tends… as I say, it tends to be men. I ended up interviewing a guy who’s the head of the Autism Research Centre at Cambridge University, and he’d noticed that men have systemizing brains; they like facts and order and logic, which is why we remember all these little curious pub facts, but also why, when… the brain gets taken to its very extreme, it can end up being autism. And also how we develop patterns in our knowledge: for instance, there was the thing about JFK and Aldous Huxley dying on the same day: November 22nd, 1963 and everyone feels sorry for Aldous Huxley because he didn’t get any attention. And then you find out that C.S. Lewis died on the same day as well, so those two greats of 20th century literature chose the wrong day to die because JFK stole all their thunder. And then the patterns of that will remind a friend, when I’m talking to him, about another piece of information about JFK, which is that he was wearing a corset when he died, ‘cause JFK had very bad back problems and he used to wear a corset to help with the back problems, and they say that’s one of the reasons why the second shot could hit him because the first shot hit him, would have knocked him over, but the corset kept him upright, allowed the other shots to hit him. So how relatively trivial… what’s seen as trivial information isn’t actually all that trivial in the end: hence the title of the book, The Importance of Being Trivial.

(Mark Mason was talking to Mark Worden. For more about trivia, click here: www.theimportanceofbeingtrivial.com)
The interview continues in the October issue of Speak Up, click here to listen to it.


The Importance of Being Trivial. Analogamente al nome trivia, l’aggettivo trivial è un false friend. Non significa ‘triviale’, nel senso di volgare, ma ‘di poca importanza’. Da qui il nome del famoso gioco Trivial Pursuit, in cui i partecipanti devono rispondere a domande di cultura popolare.