A few choice quotes were great; one I recognized from Philip Roth (along the lines that the current state of things puts to shame the novelist's imagination; the writer can't really outdo the sheer ridiculousness of current events); otherwise, the book presents itself in bold hyperbole, that this is a LIFE CHANGING MANIFESTO... A VERY IMPORTANT BOOK YOU SHOULD READ RIGHT NOW...a tone which I distrust. But there's a bone in me that is curious about this crap and somehow I found myself reading it between ringing up customers at a bookstore, and while doing so I found myself wondering if this book just adds to the noise that is already deafening; a noise you don't really need to listen to if you wish to make art. I don't think that in order to make 'new art' you need to be plugged in to this massive web of information and media.
Everyone would be better served to seek out the essay "Test of Time" by William Gass. He has much more to say on the longevity of great art and writing...
"It might at first seem that the experience of youth is now sharply divided between the old world of school and parents, and the new world of social networking on the internet, but actually school now belongs on the new side of the ledger. Education has gone through a parallel transformation, and for similar reasons.
Information systems need to have information in order to run, but information underrepresents reality. Demand more from information than it can give, and you end up with monstrous designs. Under the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, for example, US teachers are forced to choose between teaching general knowledge and "teaching to the test." The best teachers are thus often disenfranchised by the improper use of educational information systems.
What computerized analysis of all the country's school tests has done to education is exactly what Facebook has done to friendships. In both cases, life is turned into a database. Both degradations are based on the same philosophical mistake, which is the belief that computers can presently represent human thought or human relationships. These are things computers cannot currently do."
Love it. Passages in here make me wonder if the author has visited my nightmares--or have I simply seen what she's seen, out train and car windows, down at the 7-11 corner, or we've dreamt similar dreams of what is plainly real and self evident: the limitless orange light of American sprawl at night; a neon hell worth visiting for an afternoon; a chaos of materialism and hollow dreams that gather like silt in the creek behind the truck stop; teenage vampires (they are all vampires, don't you know?) sucking a culture with no blood and loving it. This is a novel worthy of Alice In Wonderland, On the Road, anything Burroughs has written, and the very best of B horror movies. Amazing this is her first... I understood what was going on about half the time. Makes me want to read it again. Fuck yeah.
Dillard's little lightning storm of a book can be summarized so: the writing life isn't very romantic. Writing is a quiet act. The writer spends a lot of time alone, a unreliable imagination and half-realized characters the writer's only company; the diligent writer spends a lot of time obsessing about sentences, as well as obsessing about obsessions; the writer arranges the proper order of things in a useless imaginative world. Ultimately, no one cares about what the writer finally produces or publishes, except perhaps the writers's mother.
And if you want to be of use to the world, become a teacher, fireman, minister. Become a ferry boat operator. Don't write.
Cars are a fucking nightmare; they run on blood and oil spills. I wish we paid $10/gallon as they do in Europe. Tax the crude shit and invest in mass transit and alternative energy. We could do without plastics as well.
a vanilla complaint about the problem of civilization; freeman shanks us to death with polite nudges, slays us with affable hints and 'histories' of communication...lets us down gently that we've all gone insane. we're all turning into a globe of mal-adjusted, half-robotic, always connected borg-tards. for all the workaholics that can't seem to turn off their screens...well...it seems to me the singularity has already arrived for these fuckwits.
"Barack Obama is a brand. And the Obama brand is designed to make us feel good about our government while corporate overlords loot the Treasury, armies of corporate lobbyists grease the palms of our elected officials, our corporate media diverts us with gossip and trivia, and our imperial wars expand in the Middle East. Brand Obama is about being happy consumers. We are entertained. We feel hopeful. We like our president. We believe he likes us. But like all branded products spun out from the manipulative world of corporate advertising, this product is duping us into doing and supporting a lot of things that are not in our interest.
What, for all our faith and hope, has the Obama brand given us? His administration has spent, lent, or guaranteed $12.8 trillion in taxpayer dollars to Wall Street and insolvent banks in a doomed effort to re-inflate the bubble economy, a tactic that at best forestalls catastrophe and will leave us broke in a time of profound crisis. Brand Obama has allocated nearly $1 trillion in defense-related spending and the continuation of our doomed imperial projects in Iraq, where military planners now estimate that 70,000 troops will remain for the next fifteen to twenty years. Brand Obama has expanded the war in Afghanistan, increasing the use of drones sent on cross-border bombinb runs into Pakistan, which have doubled the number of civilians killed over the past three months. Brand Obama has refused to east restrictions so workers can organize and will not consider single-payer, not-for-profit health care for all Americans. And Brand Obama will not prosecute the Bush administration for war crimes, including the use of torture, and has refused to dismantle Bush's secrecy laws and restore habeas corpus."
Kapuscinski's books are a genre of their own. Here is a compelling marriage of factual reportage and literary sensibility. The results are astounding and deeply felt. I marvel at how he weaves the histories of Iran into the the tense and violent moments leading up to the revolution. I'm in awe, really. Who else wrote or now writes like this? Who???