Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation

James Howard Kunstler. Atlantic Monthly, $25 (336p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2030-4
With characteristic curmudgeonly enthusiasm, Kunstler brilliantly if belligerently shows us what a pickle we’re in and how inept we are at dealing with it. As Kunstler writes: “Our lust for ever more comfort, pleasure, and distraction, our refusals to engage with the mandates of reality, our fidelity to the cults of technology and limitless growth, our narcissistic national exceptionalism—all propel us toward the realm where souls abandon all hope.” He offers astute critical histories of both political parties, narrating the Democrats’ decline into “the party of nothing in particular,” and how the fundamentalism of Southern “poor agricultural peasants” combined with car culture to create the right-wing “official party of stupidity.” Equally disturbing, he proposes that our financial system may already be in permanent collapse, that the promise of natural gas abundance is based more on desperation for fossil fuel than reality, and that Mother Nature may be exacting revenge. Not surprisingly, his best-case vision for the future mirrors his unsettling 2008 novel World Made by Hand, complete with the end of feminism. Surprisingly, Kunstler concludes with homely advice worthy of a graduation speech: “Demonstrate to yourself that you are a competent person who can understand the signals that reality is sending to you... and act intelligently in response.” Agent: Adam Chromy, Moveable Type Management. (July)
Reviewed on: 03/26/2012
Release date: 06/01/2012
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