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Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle

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Author Topic: Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle  (Read 28 times)
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« on: June 14, 2010, 11:10:14 am »

Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (Hardcover) "Chris Hedges argues that we now live in two societies: One, the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world, that can cope with complexity and can separate illusion from truth. The other, a growing majority, is retreating from a reality-based world into one of false certainty and magic. In this 'other society,' serious film and theater, as well as newspapers and books, are being pushed to the margins."
Chris Hedges's Review (excerpt)
This is a must read about our current culture, particularly the ubiquitous role of corporate television. We have come to a point that spectacle and entertainment have become indistinguishable from news, facts and the truth. Even politics has become just another form of entertainment: just look at Sarah Palin.

Chris Hedges has written a vitally important book that serves as an excellent companion to "Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free."

"A culture that cannot distinguish between reality and illusion dies. And we are dying now. We will either wake from our state of induced childishness, one where trivia and gossip pass for news and information, one where our goal is not justice but an elusive and unattainable happiness, to confront the stark limitations before us, or we will continue our headlong retreat into fantasy.

The New York Times bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Fascists and the NBCC finalist for War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning travels in chronicle our terrifying flight as a culture into a state of illusion. He exposes the mechanisms used to divert us from confronting the economic, political, and moral collapse around us.

The more we sever ourselves from a literate, print-based world, a world of complexity and nuance, a world of ideas, for one informed by comforting, reassuring images, fantasies, slogans and a celebration of violence the more we implode."

"More than that, though, Hedges explores the ways in which reason & literacy -- the humanities -- are shunted to the margins in favor of a utilitarian mindset, one that boils down to, "What's in it for me, right now, and how can I get the most of it as quickly as possible?" And that "most" is wealth, status, power, and the illusion of importance -- a humanity measured in things, rather than in being.

From that point, we're shown how these personal illusions contribute to & help sustain a national, even global, illusion of power, self-righteousness, corruption & control. It's bread & circuses for the masses, with digital soma mainlined at every waking moment. Meanwhile, the real elites, the corporate masters of our world, do whatever their insatiable appetites demand. This invariably requires bloodshed & suffering inflicted upon those least able to resist it. .

Is Hedges overwrought? Is he exaggerating the crisis at hand? If so, it's not by very much. As a war correspondent of some 20 years, he's seen the brutal results of illusionary thinking first-hand. This book is born of bitter experience, as Hedges bears witness to the ongoing destruction of the human soul, which is lost in a world of glittering superficiality which can't conceal its innate cruelty, ugliness & emptiness."

"The worse reality becomes, the more a beleaguered population distracts itself with pseudo-events of celebrity breakdowns, gossip and trivia. These are the debauched revels of a dying culture."

"Hedges argues that consumerism and celebrity culture have a powerful political function. "The whole fantasy of celebrity culture is not designed simply to entertain," Hedges says, but to make us politically passive."

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About the Author:

Chris Hedges, the author of the bestselling War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, is currently a senior fellow at The Nation Institute and the Anschutz Distinguished Fellow at Princeton University, and writes for many publications including Foreign Affairs, Harper’s, The New York Review of Books, Granta and Mother Jones. He is also a columnist for --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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