Dream: Re-Imagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy

Stephen Duncombe, Author
Stephen Duncombe, Author . New Press $15.95 (230p) ISBN 978-1-59558-049-8
Reviewed on: 11/06/2006
Release date: 01/01/2007
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Arguing that "fantasy and spectacle have become the property of fascism," theorist, performer and activist Duncombe asserts that progressives should "build a politic that embraces the dreams of people and fashion spectacles that give those dreams form." His persuasive and pyrotechnic display of radical political thinking draws on a quirky mix of models—celebrity culture, the video game Grand Theft Auto and Umberto Eco's idea of opera aperta or free interpretation of art—to delineate how progressives can convey their message to a larger audience. What makes this polemic both inventive and exciting is its author's love of high and popular culture, which allows for deft juxtapositions of cultural icons like Bette Davis, Charles Baudelaire, Dungeons and Dragons and Tony Soprano. While many of his arguments have a flashy aura, Duncombe (The Bobbed-Haired Bandit ) also makes incisive observations, such as that Cindy Sheehan and Rosa Parks had significant political experience before they entered the public eye or that politics rests as much on the imagination as reality. Noting that much current progressive writing retools old modes of thought, he persuasively and entertainingly argues that "if we really want to change reality, then we have to try and do something different." (Jan. 8)

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