Current Reading

This blog is primarily for me to blog my responses to books that I'm reading. Sometimes I blog about other stuff too, though.

I'm currently re-reading Systems of Survival by Jane Jacobs.

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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Click here for something that will TOTALLY CHANGE YOUR PERSPECTIVE on reading and marketing!

After my exploration of the ways in which culture and the post-industrial economy play into the Trump phenomenon, I wasn't planning to say more about the politics of the outside world for a while.  However, this article by Rick Perlstein contains a nugget that is just too perfect. Just skip the first part (about contemporary politics) and go to the section heading titled "An Oilfield in the Placenta."  Besides being an admirably graphic metaphor, it heads a section on the fascinating history and psychology of conservative direct-marketing schemes.  That's interesting, but not terribly relevant to this blog.  However, in dissecting the ways in which direct marketers appeal to their conservative audiences, Perlstein delivers this:
This event points to another signal facet of the conservative movement’s long con: convincing its acolytes that they are the true intellectuals, that anyone to their left is the merest cognitive pretender. (“Will this 3 Minute Video Change Your Life?” you can read on FreedomFest’s website. Because three-minute videos are how intellectuals roll. Click here to learn more.)
Ooh, we've hit paydirt there.  We've just found the mirror image of the faculty lounge zeitgeist.  When my colleagues are more interested in think-pieces and life hacks than books they are mirror images of a cultural segment for which they would proclaim nothing but disdain.  Three-minute videos aren't how true intellectuals roll, but they are how too many in the Academy roll.  And that style of marketing is no less effective with a certain segment of academics than it is with the conservative base.

Perlstein, incidentally, is the author of 3 excellent books on the history of the conservative movement:  Before the Storm (about Goldwater and the 1964 Presidential campaign), Nixonland (about the rise of Richard Nixon and what it meant for American politics), and The Invisible Bridge (about the events culminating in Reagan almost but not quite winning the nomination in 1976).  Partisan politics are not an interest of this blog, but Perlstein is a master of dissecting American culture.  At some point I may re-read Nixonland just so I can blog about Franklins vs. Orthogonians, Perstein's framing of American cultural divides in terms of social clubs in Richard Nixon's college years.  It has direct parallels to the internal politics of the faculty lounge.

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