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4.Crooked Little Vein by Warren Ellis

A noir private eye story. Sort of. Warren Ellis does what Warren Ellis does, and he does it well. Ellis examines the beauty and horror of a post-internet America, and manages to enacapsulate both the "OMG, humanity is full of fucked up freaks and weirdos who want to have sex with rat tumours! There is no god!" and the "Yup, they're weird, and they're *my* people" side of things. Not for the faint of heart, it's a fantastic book that had me cackling with glee. I'll never look at an ostrich the same way again. I'm giving serious thought to buying a couple extra copies as loaners.

5.The Rebel Sell: Why the Culture Can't Be Jammed by Joseph Heath and Andrew Potter

Very interesting and thought-provoking. In many ways, this book is extremely Canadian - a lot of its critique of modern leftist thought is a disagreement with the concept of the wild rebel smashing the System and sticking it to the Man, with the suggestion that everyone just being polite (or at least not being a dick) and working together being a better way to acheive change. Among the topics discussed are why buying stuff (even organic vegetables and fair trade coffee) doesn't help fight Capitalism, why both the hippies and the punks failed, and quite a few digs at Naomi Klein. Social rules exist for good reasons, and violating them doesn't shake people out of their complacent zombie-like state and open thier minds to a larger world. Mostly it just pisses them off and makes them nervous. Hippie hair, punk rock piercings and dreadlocks aren't going to change the world, just make people uncomfortable until they get used to them.

The authors take the position that there's no grand Capitalist Machine forcing relentless consumerism on us to artificially drive the economy (or as Tyler Durden puts it "advertisting has us working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need.") They present a number of much simpler, logical reasons for how we ended up with the sopciety we have, and present some good arguments on why the concept of countercultural rebellion is hindering progress on the left.

Despite thier views on capitalism and counterculture, the authors do present a distinctly leftist lean. This isn't a soft-sell on libertarianism, neo-conservatism or anything else of the sort.

I found I agreed with a lot of the stuff in this book, both in tone and content. that makes me suspicious. I'd really like to chat about some of the stuff in the book with my friends, most of whom are quite a bit smarter and well-read than I am. I can't see any spots where I think the authors are obviously wrong.

Obviously, I strongly recommend everyone I know read this. It's not as much fun as Crooked Little Vein, though.


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 5th, 2008 08:32 pm (UTC)
I would like to borrow Crooked Little Vien... I would like to buy it but I know I don't have the money.
May. 6th, 2008 03:12 am (UTC)
That can work. We just have to figure out when we're both going to be in the same place at the same time so I can pass it to you.
May. 6th, 2008 04:19 pm (UTC)
Aye isn't that the rub though.
May. 5th, 2008 09:33 pm (UTC)
I read The Rebel Sell last year and found that it made me reconsider my perspective on a lot of things. I sent night__watch et al. a copy for Christmas, so they may have read it too.
May. 6th, 2008 03:10 am (UTC)
Oh good! I was hoping they'd read it.
May. 5th, 2008 09:36 pm (UTC)
Maybe on summer holiday I'll read Rebel Sell. I vaguely remember the article in This Magazine that preceded the book. And I vaguely remember that Potter's a wanker.
May. 6th, 2008 03:09 am (UTC)
My wankerometer is set pretty high after reading the Disinformation Press stuff. The book's definitely got some sass to it, but not so much that I minded.
May. 6th, 2008 02:58 pm (UTC)
That's a horribly depressing view of counterculture, or just wanting to be a little different.

Then again, the more people decide to accept different cultures/ideas/lifestyles/scenes, the easier it becomes to be different - say get pierced or tattooed - without society deciding you're evil and should be locked away.

Why am I always in the middle of the road on everything?
May. 7th, 2008 02:05 am (UTC)
See, they7 make a point that capitalism and big government are a necessary component of a diverse pluralist society - if everyone is different, you're going to get a broad range of products, and you need a government that's going to make policy not based on any one group, but policy that works for everyone. We sure as hell don't have that now, but the book suggests that that is the ideal we should be working toward.
May. 9th, 2008 08:14 pm (UTC)
I'm trying to imagine policies that would work for everyone. But I'm too much of a pessimist.
May. 9th, 2008 11:57 pm (UTC)
Yup. Too many utopias require everyone to spontaneously adopt the same views. If we accept that people are different and diverse, we need to take that into account in our planning.
May. 6th, 2008 11:40 pm (UTC)
In addition...(Does this happen in Canada?)
Also, this book reminds me of my negative feelings towards the phenomenon of public "pie-ing" inflicted upon people who are perceived as somehow shady or unethical. I think it doesn't illicit much sympathy from the general public and just causes the perpetrators to look foolish or even dangerous.
May. 7th, 2008 02:03 am (UTC)
Re: In addition...(Does this happen in Canada?)
Yup, it happens here, though less often since the Jean Cretien choked a protester with his bare hands...

One of the points that the Rebel Sell makes is that a lot of that kind of thing is *fun*, but not actually productive, which is the problem - deviance is not dissent.
May. 9th, 2008 08:12 pm (UTC)
But I like being a deviant! ;-p
Jean Cretien *choked* someone?? Crikey!
May. 9th, 2008 11:59 pm (UTC)
Re: But I like being a deviant! ;-p
Well, only a little. A protester got in his face, so Cretien grabbed him by the throat and pushed him until he backed off. The RCMP security detail really did a lousy job looking after him - there's also the story about his wife chasing off an intruder into 24 Sussex Drive with an Inuit soapstone carving.
May. 10th, 2008 12:42 am (UTC)
Re: But I like being a deviant! ;-p
An Inuit soapstone carving?! Now that's priceless.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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