What is it that draws us to quick personality tests?
A,B,C,D,E. Please circle the most appropriate answer in the following five to twenty inane, but unbelievably insightful questions.
The result either tells us what we already know, in different words, or what we didn’t want to hear, in diplomatic words.
A. Is the test about a sense of belonging?
(a bot says we’re two of a kind, we should hang out)
B. Or about a sense of difference?
(a bot says we’re apples and oranges, it’s okay to keep quarrelling)
C. Or is the test just a bit of fun?
(tests, fun, really, since when)
D. Or is it fun that can be used as an excellent conversation starter?
(the best we’ve got, really)
E. Or is it fun that can be used as conversation starter, while feeling smug that we lied on it because in truth we believe it’s a sneaky marketing tool sites use to poll their visitors?
F. Write-in answer: _______________
Joshing aside, the pleasure is there, and as an ardent meta-reader, I immediately took to mulling over Barthes’s typology of readers. Psychoanalytic, he says. Let’s see (the bold is my own):
We can imagine a typology of the pleasures of reading—or of the readers of pleasure; it would not be sociological, for pleasure is not an attribute of either product or production; it could only by psychoanalytic, liking the reading neurosis to the hallucinated form of the text. The fetishists would be matched with the divided-up text, the singling out of quotations, formulae, turns of phrase, with the pleasure of the word. The obsessive would experience the voluptuous release of the letter, of secondary, disconnected languages, of metalanguages (this class would include all the logophiles, linguists, semioticians, philologists: all those for whom language returns). A paranoiac would consume or produce complicated texts, stories developed like arguments, constructions posited like games, like secrete constrains. As for the hysteric (so contrary to the obsessive), he would be the one who takes the text for ready money, who joints in the bottomless, truthless comedy of language, who is no longer the subject of any critical scrutiny and throws himself across the text (which is quite different from projecting himself into it).
—Roland Barthes, The Pleasure of the Text, translated by Richard Miller.
So which one are you?
E. More than one.
F. None (I took the test by mistake).
My apologies to F.
If you enjoy multiple-choice tests with a difference, Alejandro Zambra wrote a whole book in that format. I blogged about it in Mortality and the Multiple Choice Test.