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Meet the “fast zombie" citizen of the current world. He is a rapid, brainless carrier of preference-driven consumption. His Facebook-style ‘likes’ replace complex notions of personhood. Legacy college admissions and status-seekers gobble up his idea of public education, and positional market ...
Meet the “fast zombie" citizen of the current world. He is a rapid, brainless carrier of preference-driven consumption. His Facebook-style ‘likes’ replace complex notions of personhood. Legacy college admissions and status-seekers gobble up his idea of public education, and positional market reductions hollow out his sense of shared goods. Meanwhile, the political debates of his 24-hour-a-day newscycle are picked clean by pundits, tortured by tweets. Forget the TV shows and doomsday scenarios; when it comes to democracy, the zombie apocalypse may already be here.
Since the publication of A Civil Tongue (1995), philosopher Mark Kingwell has been urging us to consider how monstrous, self-serving public behaviour can make it harder to imagine and achieve the society we want. Now, with Unruly Voices, Kingwell returns to the subjects of democracy, civility, and political action, in an attempt to revitalize an intellectual culture too-often deadened by its assumptions of personal advantage and economic value. These 17 new essays, where zombies share pages with cultural theorists, poets, and presidents, together argue for a return to the imagination—and from their own unruly voices rises a sympathetic democracy to counter the strangeness of the postmodern political landscape.
Mark Kingwell is the author of sixteen books and a contributing editor for Harper's Magazine.
"This broad-minded collection of essays carries its own anecdote. As Kingwell writes in his introduction, it is philosophy, along with poetry and art, that has the extraordinary power to 'expand our ethical imaginations.' A robust democracy will need both ground rules for civil discourse and citizens with imagination enough to understand the stakes of the game."—The Rumpus
"Unruly Voices has insightful things to say about the corrupting influence of money on public discourse, including reference to the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial 2010 Citizens United ruling, which granted corporations the same right as people to free speech ... The scourge of incivility might not be new, but it is more pervasive. And, as Kingwell warns, the cost to coherent debate is great."—National Post (Canada)
PRAISE FOR MARK KINGWELL
"Illuminates on almost every page."—The Los Angeles Times
"An original approach to where we are as a civilization."—The Washington Post
"The writing is elegant, often poetic. It appeals to the thoughtful reader who thrives on insights into the way humans interact."—The Globe & Mail
"Smoothly splicing together personal narrative, philosophical inquiry and historical analysis, frequent Harper's contributor [Mark] Kingwell ... wears his learning lightly."—Publishers' Weekly
Introduction: Incivility, Zombies, and Democracy's End 11
1 All Show: Justice and the City 27
2 The American Gigantic 41
3 Masters of Chancery: The Gift of Public Space 57
4 Retouching the Void 79
5 The Tomist: Francis Fukuyama's Infinite Regression 91
6 Throwing Dice: Luck of the Draw and the Democratic Ideal 103
7 Intellectuals and Democracy 131
8 What Are Intellectuals For?: A Modest Proposal in Dialogue Form 137
9 "Fuck You" and Other Salutations: Incivility as a Collective Action Problem 149
10 The Philosopher President Sets Forth: A Monologue 169
11 Wage Slavery, Bullshit, and the Good Infinite 181
12 Ways of Not Seeing 197
13 Language Speaks Us: Sophie's Tree and the Paradox of Self 209
14 The Trick of It: Poetry and the Plane of Immanence 227
15 As It Were: On the Metaphysics (or Ethics) of Fiction 237
16 Self-Slaughter, Poetry, and the Interfaith Blurb Universe 251
17 The (In)dividual, Beyond the Uncanny Valley 259