Unruly Voices: Essays on Democracy, Civility and the Human Imagination [NOOK Book]

Overview


“Mark Kingwell is a beautiful writer, a lucid thinker and a patient teacher ... His insights are intellectual anchors in a fast-changing world.”
—Naomi Klein, author of No Logo



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 ...

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Unruly Voices: Essays on Democracy, Civility and the Human Imagination

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Overview


“Mark Kingwell is a beautiful writer, a lucid thinker and a patient teacher ... His insights are intellectual anchors in a fast-changing world.”
—Naomi Klein, author of No Logo



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.


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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Most of these 17 essays focus on the degradation of contemporary political discourse, urban life, and culture. University of Toronto philosopher and Harper’s contributor Kingwell (The World We Want) notes that in lieu of “political literacy,” political conversation today is too often characterized by “insult-swapping and bogus claims,” so that “we can no longer hear, let alone appreciate... a just idea.” In a fascinating essay entitled “The American Gigantic,” he argues that the American dream has been transformed into a kind of “zombie virus, consuming resources and citizens alike in an endless round of renewed desire... obscuring the realities of class and race.” Examining such social and existential issues as the role of luck in accumulating political or other power and the way that “desirable objects” reinforce a sense of “class superiority,” Kingwell ranges far and wide. He cites not only to such philosophers as Plato, Heidegger, and Rawls, but also to such writers as Melville and literary critics such as Northrop Frye, not to mention such cinematic cult classics as Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (part of a discussion on the “uncanny” in film). Though Kingwell’s prose can be elusively associative and his intellectual allusions sometimes esoteric (Francis Fukuyama’s thought is marked by “Hegelian dialectics filtered through Alexandre Kojève”), he is a perceptive and imaginative social critic. Agent: Melissa Chinchillo, Fletcher & Company. (Oct.)
From the Publisher

"Examining such social and existential issues as the role of luck in accumulating political or other power and the way that “desirable objects” reinforce a sense of “class superiority,” Kingwell ranges far and wide. He cites not only to such philosophers as Plato, Heidegger, and Rawls, but also to such writers as Melville and literary critics such as Northrop Frye, not to mention such cinematic cult classics as Beyond the Valley of the Dolls ... he is a perceptive and imaginative social critic."—Publishers Weekly

"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

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781926845852
  • Publisher: Biblioasis
  • Publication date: 10/16/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 300
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author


Mark Kingwell is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto, a contributing editor for Harper’s Magazine, and has written for publications ranging from Adbusters and the New York Times to the Journal of Philosophy and Auto Racing Digest. Among his twelve books of political and cultural theory are the Canadian best-sellers Better Living, The World We Want, and Concrete Reveries. In order to secure financing for their continued indulgence he has also written about his various hobbies, including fishing, baseball, cocktails, and contemporary art.
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Table of Contents

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

Acknowledgments 271

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