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A whole lotta "meh" and a bit of wow

Usually when I read the New York Times Book Review on Sundays there are at least two titles, often more, that I am inspired to add to my to-read list. Today I went through the entire section and did not add any. It seems like this should mean something but I'm not sure what.

Courtesy of a colleague on GoodReads, however, I also read a superb essay by Anthony Burgess, author of A Clockwork Orange, written for The New Yorker. Burgess begins by talking about A Clockwork Orange but expands into a discussion of the role of the state, free will, the nature of good and evil, and all sort of other remarkably timely and pertinent topics (especially considering it was originally written in 1972!). An essay to savor. This was one of my favorite bits:

...We probably have no duty to like Beethoven or hate Coca-Cola, but it is at least conceivable that we have a duty to distrust the state...In small social entities—English parishes, Swiss cantons—the machine that governs can sometimes be identified with the community that is governed. But when the social entity grows large, becomes a megalopolis, a state, a federation, the governing machine becomes remote, impersonal, even inhuman. It takes money from us for purposes we do not seem to sanction; it treats us as abstract statistics; it controls an army; it supports a police force whose function does not always appear to be protective...[I]n our own century, the state has been responsible for most of our nightmares. No single individual or free association of individuals could have achieved the repressive techniques of Nazi Germany, the slaughter of intensive bombing, or the atomic bomb. War departments can think in terms of megadeaths, while it is as much as the average man can do to entertain dreams of killing the boss. The modern state, whether in a totalitarian or a democratic country, has far too much power, and we are probably right to fear it...

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kellychambliss
Sep. 4th, 2016 10:50 pm (UTC)
Wow, that Burgess quote is scary in its timeliness.
helenarickman
Sep. 5th, 2016 01:07 am (UTC)
Oh, don't get me started on this.
Everytime I give a sightseeing history tour in my hometown (Savannah, GA) people get upset with me because I point out so many things about our history and our founding fathers that are NOT taught in this country's grade and high schools. We are led by our curriculum from an early age to 'think' that our noble leaders are always valiant and moral people doing things for OUR own good. I'm not going to high jack this post, but if one only digs into history past what their minds were molded to believe as children, they would recognize that our culture has been shaped for one purpose - to create divisiveness amongst the populace, and to have them think that Uncle Sam is the one who is looking out for them.

Don't get me wrong - I love this country and don't want to live anywhere else. I just can't stand when others try to control my thoughts. We are all intelligent people - what a shame we've been trained to passivity when it comes to using our own brain power.

Long story short, I totally agree.
haruhi_fan
Sep. 5th, 2016 01:09 am (UTC)
Ah so he wrote more than A Clockwork Orange, nice to know.
tcpip
Sep. 5th, 2016 05:27 am (UTC)
Any concentration of resources is indeed cause for concern, especially if you are but one voice in the wilderness.
pitry
Sep. 6th, 2016 12:02 am (UTC)
Well, to focus on a different part of your post, the lack of interesting sounding books may be a sign that they should start writing essays about the death of books in addition to the neverending essays about the death of movies!
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