by Jack Blake ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 1, 1996
Further proof, if any is needed, that there is almost nothing new left to say about the culture wars. But the pseudonymous Blake certainly makes a game attempt. Using the upcoming millennium as his admittedly flimsy excuse, Blake revisits all the exhausted controversies from flag-burning in school to multiculturalism to naughty government-sponsored art. But his attempt to arrive at ""rational"" positions on these issues--and many others that he seems to feel driven to pontificate about--unintentionally demonstrates the limits of reason. Most of us can agree with his broadly enunciated belief that ""I cannot have any freedoms without defending the rights of others to have theirs; I cannot have my relatively dignified life on Earth without working to ensure that others have theirs."" Unfortunately, it is in the all-important details that consensus inevitably breaks down. On what side of human dignity should we locate abortion or capital punishment or even naughty government-sponsored art? This is where we start to leave the realm of reason and descend to the murky depths of opinion and even irrationality. Still, there's probably nothing to oppose in Blake's other nostrums to help us ""survive past midnight, December 31, 1999."" Yes, we should read more, visit art galleries more, teach our children well, and spend less time on social small talk and more time discussing the big issues. To help us save the world and ourselves, Blake provides an eccentric two-page reading list, including such luminaries as the Durants, Norman Mailer, and Ralph Nader. But don't look here for Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hegel, or any of our culture's other seminal minds. (For the place of these thinkers in the culture wars, see David Denby's Great Books, p. 944.) Like a sugar pill, this book is reasonably harmless, but there are many more effective remedies available for our cultural aches and pains.
Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996
Page Count: 192
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996
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