Friday, July 23, 2010

reality TV in the age of terror?

Atticus: The novel speaks directly—both humorously and dramatically—to the daily challenges of living in a post-9/11, terror-centric age. Nine years after the attacks on our homeland, the aftermath remains impressed onto the collective, pockmarked conscience of our citizenry like a scar that won’t heal. Many folks have grown tired and crazy with (or utterly numb to) a barrage of apocalyptic images rendering us, a post-mortem superpower, sterile. Kind of heavy territory for cheap laughs, no?

Alex: Is this the age of terror? Or the age of information? Or the age of reality TV? Did Lebron drive a white Bronco to his previous owner’s house before catching a flight to Miami where he socked a shoe bomber while apprehending a billion-dollar identity-theft fugitive who held the list of Swiss bank account owners? I don’t know—it seems like King James is an amazing talent but also a young guy taking way too much heat for any move he makes, and the “reality” we watch on TV leaves us disconnected from the struggles of regular workers in our economy and around the globe. And that’s us. I believe that senior members of university faculties and administration may have a similar disconnect to these struggles. They are affluent enough to be rather removed from the very students society entrusts them to lead.

For the vast majority of citizens on this planet—including seemingly “advantaged” American college students who in fact owe more collective debt than any group of young adults in history—daily challenges have a lot more to do with basic things like access to jobs, housing, water, food, etc. The people who terrorize often claim they are fighting to get people these things and the people who claim they are fighting terror say the same. Likewise, universities can point to all the programs they offer which aim to alleviate these struggles both locally and globally. And yet part of the picture is that the average indebted student falls behind by about $25,000 (loans plus credit card debt) by the time he or she finishes undergrad. And then the elasticity of the economy ensures it is any economist’s guess as to what kind of job market these students will graduate into.

Is the book funny? I don’t know. Are the laughs “cheap”? Not for me. I spent six years composing this novel and haven’t received a dime for the writing.

Should Phil Jackson continue his preseason book club and assign Fight for Your Long Day to Pau Gasol? Absolutely. It’s a lot shorter than [Roberto] Bolaño’s 2666. That’s what Phil gave him last year, and Pau deserves a break for playing tough in game 7.

For further interrogation, see Atticus Books. TGIF and the rest of it.

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