DREAMS OF MILLENNIUM by Mark Kingwell

DREAMS OF MILLENNIUM

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 A quick, entertaining, often flippant guide to the zeitgeist. Kingwell (Philosophy/Univ. of Toronto) is interested in everything--``high'' and ``low'' culture alike. Thinkers and trends he covers range from the political theorist Michael Lind to the ``new'' leadership-training programs in business, from the apocalyptic environmental philosopher Thomas Homer-Dixon to an exhibition by psychics. Along the way, he offers some very interesting and at times witty observations, as in his pungent comment concerning leadership-studies guru Warren Bennis: ``His lessons are hoary with age yet presented with an air of breathless discovery.'' Unfortunately, Kingwell often flits from topic to topic, sometimes dealing with phenomena that seem to have little, if anything, to do with the coming millennium, e.g., a syndrome in which visitors to Jerusalem have messianic delusions. He is also prone to some silly generalizations. And while he has a refreshingly breezy journalistic style, Kingwell sometimes lapses into academic pretentiousness, such as describing tattooing (!) as ``perhaps the one remaining utopian gesture.'' Finally, despite his frequent tone of world-weary irony, he seems too eager to assign a host of phenomena to end-of-millennium yearning or anxiety, and to engage in reckless prophesying: ``We can anticipate scenes of mass hysteria and terror'' as the millennium approaches. Kingwell's jaundiced perspective may be traceable to his focus on thinkers who specialize in ``ivory tower'' theorizing or who reside at the cultural margins. While this makes for a great deal of eye-opening material, something essential seems missing: the hopes and anxieties of many in the Western world's middle class. These seem far more focused on diurnal family and economic issues than on the almost mythic third millennium, whose contours are still less clearly discernible than Kingwell thinks.

Pub Date: March 25th, 1997
ISBN: 0-571-19902-X
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1997




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