It's Fun to Think About How Wrong We Are

The premise of Chuck Klosterman's new book But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past is stated succinctly in the subtitle . . . the way a time period is perceived in the future is never the same as the time period is perceived while people are living in it, because of future discoveries and progress in art, science, ethics, and technology and the cultural shifts that accompany these . . . and Klosterman concedes that everyone will admit this in the abstract, but once you get specific-- once you tell people that Abraham Lincoln will be perceived differently, or Led Zeppelin, or the American system of government-- then they have trouble getting on board; from my perspective in the present, this is another excellent Klosterman book, and by excellent, I mean that Klosterman discusses things-- both eminent and obscure-- of which I have working knowledge: American football, Kurt Vonnegut, Kafka, George Saunders, Citizen Kane, Dan Carlin's Hardcore History, Star Wars, The Constitution, Renata Adler's novel Speedboat, string theory, Ohio, Nick Bostrom's simulation argument, etcetera-- and he writes about these disparate things so lucidly and logically, that once I read his ideas, I immediately digest them and believe they are my own . . . now this could mean he's just a middle-of-the-road thinker and a really compelling and clear stylist, so that reading his books makes me (and anyone my age who likes literature, science, pop culture and sports) feel really smart, because we get the allusions and can put everything in context, but I like to think otherwise: I like to think that Klosterman takes the time to think extensively, precisely, and comprehensively about the things that people of my generation and proclivities only half-think about, because it's not our job to think full time about hair bands and conspiracy theories and why the hell people still love Ronald Reagan, and Klosterman takes a real critical eye to these things and makes you rethink your half-baked thoughts about them . . . so thanks Chuck, I don't know how people are going to view your books in the future-- probably as mindless drivel about obscure minutia-- but I love and look forward to them here in the present.

2 comments:

Lecky said...

Spoiler alert for Star Trek Beyond - the universe is saved by the Beastie Boys in a retro spaceship. Like Chuck K.'s work, the scene was an awesome mashup of pop culture, science, icons, fun... Check it if you are a Trek fan, the remakes have been great

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