Blogs spew forth, in largely unedited form, the crude observations of people who are often unable to express
themselves coherently in writing and are as inept as the virtual conversational skills required for online ex-
changes as they must be at face-to-face communications.
Jacoby from The Age of American Unreason
Well, Susan, I love you too. Perhaps it’s a good thing I don’t take my blogging as seriously as you Susan fear I do. Perhaps it’s also a good thing that, despite your above mentioned warm and fuzzy words, I found your book well-written, intelligent and (unfortunately) accurate. While you probably have nothing but contempt for my blog, I do value your recent book.
A self-proclaimed “cultural conservationist”, Jacoby is the author of Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism, a book I thoroughly enjoyed and easily made my “best of” list for 2009. Her newest book can be thought of as an intellectual “Silent Spring”- a stinging indictment of America’s intellectual decline. According to Jacoby, the twin specters anti-rationalism and “junk thought” haunt the land, manifesting themselves in religious fundamentalism, scientific ignorance, and the mind-numbing addictions of television, video games and the Internet. Few Americans read, and when they do it is seldom anything of substance but cheap bodice rippers, infantile soap opera-esque serialized novels and other mass marketed crap. Newspapers, which have been losing readers since the early 70’s, are growing bankrupt and folding across America, leaving people to get their news via soundbites from Fox News and CNN and if they are lucky, a quick sentence or two on a newspaper or TV station’s website.
I came away from Jacoby’s book knowing that reading things of substance is absolutely imperative. Don’t waste your precious free time in front of a TV or computer terminal. Read intellectually stimulating books. Read your struggling local newspaper-heck read several papers if you have that luxury. The mind IS a terrible thing to waste. Get off your ass and get to work !
After you read Jacoby’s book, be sure to readDark Age Ahead by the late Jane Jacobs as well as Building a Bridge to the 18th Century: How the Past Can Improve Our Future by Neil Postman. Many of Jacoby’s arguments were previously explored by these two authors in their respective books. Since a co-worker of mine was kind enough to loan me her copy of Al Gore’s The Assault on Reason, I’m hoping to read what Gore has to say about America’s current intellectual demise.
See Susan, I’m not so bad after all.