And the Most Significant Writer of the 21st Century is …🐱
I’m reading But What If We’re Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman. The title concisely conveys what the book is about.
I snapped this book up because one of my favorite things to do is think through the opposite of what I’m told to believe. Some call this skepticism, some call it paranoia; I just call it a sound practice.
I have my most grounding and entertaining ideas after considering what I’m told, identifying the opposite thing and playing the logic out until my beliefs usually land somewhere in between.
You can do this with any headline, for example. Take this one from yesterday’s New York Times:
The Election Is Over, but Trump Can’t Seem to Get Past It
What is the opposite message?
The Election Isn’t Over, but Trump Seems to Be Over It
The headline declares that the election is over and implies that, therefore, Trump is fixating on something illogical.
Sure, literally, the election is over, but Trump’s station in the presidency is anything but secure. Warranted or not, the threat of his impeachment has been looming large on the horizon from day one of his presidency.
So, while I am not a Trump supporter, I am not about using faulty logic to make stories more clickable.
And yes, I fear for our society’s welfare under Trump’s rule, but the misguided narcissistic bent that the NYT headline gives to his behavior in this specific case is “fake news-y” because it connects the wrong cause to the effect to cast doubt upon Trump’s mindset.
And while a lot of the things coming out of Trump’s mouth are lies, he is not wrong about the progressive mainstream media and their penchant for spreading fake news about him.
Most expect fake news to be bombastic in its fakeness and to come from half-baked news sources, but this kind of headline from sources like the NYT is the most insidious kind of fake news because it is so subtle that you don’t even doubt what it’s saying for a second.
If I were Trump, I would sure as fuck keep handing out maps of all of the regions of the US that voted for me and continue to campaign as if I were fighting to get into the Oval Office — because he is fighting to stay there.
So, with the fake bits removed, this should have been the headline:
The Election May Be Over, but Endangered Trump Keeps Rallying for Support
Trump doesn’t seem as crazy now, which is unsettling and maybe, even a little boring. Objective headlines are seldom exciting headlines.
Okay, so that was a weakly correlated tangent on why Klosterman’s book intrigued me so much. I am down for 300 pages of examining where our contemporary thinking and belief systems could be wrong.
The first chapter, “A Quaint and Curious Volume of (Destined-to-Be) Forgotten Lore” is an examination of how the 21st century’s most significant writers will be selected — by folks living in 2112.
The premise is that whomever we’d predict will be selected based on what we know today will never be who is actually selected from the view of the 22nd century.
“History is a creative process (or as Napoleon Bonaparte once said, ‘a set of lies agreed upon’). The world happens as it happens, but we construct what we remember and what we forget. And people will eventually do that to us, too.”
It made me think about having to read “The Canterbury Tales” in college.
And of the tempest at hir hoom-comynge; / But al that thyng I moot as now forbere. / I have, God woot, a large feeld to ere,
My reaction to the words on that first page was the same as the first time I looked at an algebra problem.
I said to myself, “I thought this was an English class. Did I somehow miss learning ALL of the required words?”
Oh — Middle English. Was this a superset of English that only people on the Mainland got to learn, but I had missed because I had been educated in a field of sugar cane? I mean, it was 1988 and folks in my hometown didn’t even listen to The Cure and we thought tube tops were still in fashion. This Middle English thing could have easily slipped by us.
I had worked hard to stop speaking Hawaiian Pidgin English (my mom slapped me any time I spoke a word of it) so I could get into this college and now you want me to learn this other kind of Pidgin English?
Guess what, Geoffrey Chaucer? I’m a big girl now and I can say piss off to your Canterbury Tales and the canon of significant writers of 17th century English Literature. Reading your work made me suspect that I had a brain aneurysm and for that, I say:
So, what how about it, who is going to be the Geoffrey Chaucer of the 21st century as viewed by the 22nd century? Beloved by some, reviled by others — but, for better or worse, remembered?
I thought about my mom’s face when I recently showed her how amazing GIPHY.com is:
Yeah, Chuck, I get it.
My vote is that it will be this cat.