Wednesday, September 30, 2009

It's happening in two weeks down at the Rudolf Rocker Cultural Centre, 91 Albert St., here in Winnipeg. A book launch for 'Empire of Illusion' by Chris Hedges. Here's the promo.

Chris Hedges "Empire of Illusion" Book Launch:
Pulitzer Prize winning author launches his latest.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
7:30pm - 9:30pm
Rudolph Rocker Cultural Centre
3rd Floor of 91 Albert St.
Winnipeg, MB
Chris Hedges, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of classics such as War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists, launches his latest book, EMPIRE OF ILLUSION.
In EMPIRE OF ILLUSION: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle, Chris Hedges examines the rift between these two cultures. He posits that our culture has detached from intellectualism, instead relying on spectacle, false idols, and snake oil salesmen to distract us from the economic, political and moral collapse around us. From the ring of professional wrestling matches at Madison Square Garden, to the convention floor in Las Vegas for the pornography industry’s annual Adult Video News (AVN) expo, to academic conferences where positive psychologists claim to be able to engineer happiness, he investigates the distractions and diversions that keep so many blissfully blind to reality. EMPIRE OF ILLUSION is a disturbing anatomy of a society unmoored from reality; one that has let literacy and critical thinking erode and allowed a new wave of celebrity, slogans, and illusion to overtake our autonomy.
I sincerely hope that the author mentioned above will be more objective than the usual run of leftist "intellectuals". There is little doubt that our society, and that of most (all ?) societies in the world operate very much on the level of illusion and what has been called 'the spectacle'. That is granted. The problem is that the average leftist critic now operates at a much greater level of illusion than the general society does. Not only is there not even a grudging admission about how little the average person takes the spectacle "seriously". What is worse is that far too much of 'the left' wallows in a swamp of guilt and anti-intellectualism ((in the sense that they are against any effort to think things out beyond taking sides) that would put Sarah Palin to shame. Quite frankly before I will take any leftist critic seriously I would like to see the fans of TV wrestling put above the fans of fads such as post-modernism if for no other reason that that the wrestling fans are both more realistic and have a sense of humour. This may be too much to expect, but attend the lecture to see what this guy has to say. For myself, all that I can say is that a society of illusion inevitably begets its own illusionary opposition.


Larry Gambone said...

I think I would prefer TV wrestling to post-mod any day. At least the former is blatant about its phoniness...

Anonymous said...

I understand it is tempting, but someday, if you want to persuade anyone of anything, you'll have to edit out the egomaniacal snideness. Nobody thinks they're an idiot, regardless of the evidence. But everybody thinks other people are assholes, even if assholes they can condescend at (wrestling fans!). It's not even that I disagree with you; but to innovate politically, check and transcend facile self-gratification.

Chris Hedges is not post-modernist. This book and the talk are about the growing divide in the US between the "politically-literate" (people who have a compass helping them figure out who benefits and who pays the cost) and those who act politically on the basis of post-union fasco-populist tropes managed by well-funded, coordinated, capitalist political organizations (Grover Nordquist, Fox News, Chamber of Commerce et al).

It seems difficult for Canadians to get how capitalism is both structurally-embedded and a continuing political achievement in the US, current-and-fading capitol of capitalism. And we could stand to seriously consider what if anything will separate the US from fascism in the upcoming years, as the US working class gets hammered, and hammered, and hammered further still.