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But What If We're Wrong?
But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking About the Present As If It Were the Past | Chuck Klosterman
We live in a culture of casual certitude. This has always been the case, no matter how often that certainty has failed. Though no generation believes theres nothing left to learn, every generation unconsciously assumes that what has already been defined and accepted is (probably) pretty close to how reality will be viewed in perpetuity. And then, of course, time passes. Ideas shift. Opinions invert. What once seemed reasonable eventually becomes absurd, replaced by modern perspectives that feel even more irrefutable and secureuntil, of course, they dont. But What If Were Wrong? visualizes the contemporary world as it will appear to those who'll perceive it as the distant past. Chuck Klosterman asks questions that are profound in their simplicity: How certain are we about our understanding of gravity? How certain are we about our understanding of time? What will be the defining memory of rock music, five hundred years from today? How seriously should we view the content of our dreams? How seriously should we view the content of television? Are all sports destined for extinction? Is it possible that the greatest artist of our era is currently unknown (orweirder stillwidely known, but entirely disrespected)? Is it possible that we overrate democracy? And perhaps most disturbing, is it possible that weve reached the end of knowledge? Kinetically slingshotting through a broad spectrum of objective and subjective problems, But What If Were Wrong? is built on interviews with a variety of creative thinkersGeorge Saunders, David Byrne, Jonathan Lethem, Kathryn Schulz, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Greene, Junot Daz, Amanda Petrusich, Ryan Adams, Nick Bostrom, Dan Carlin, and Richard Linklater, among othersinterwoven with the type of high-wire humor and nontraditional analysis only Klosterman would dare to attempt. Its a seemingly impossible achievement: a book about the things we cannot know, explained as if we did. Its about how we live now, once now has become then. From the Hardcover edition.
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Prettytears
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“Most commercial music disappears when the generation that made it dies.."

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Prettytears
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"But the objective world is different. Here, we traffic in literal facts—but the permanence of those facts matters less than the means by which they are generated.” 2/2

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Prettytears
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"Everyone concedes we have the potential to be subjectively wrong about anything, as long as we don‘t explicitly name whatever that something is. Our sense of subjective reality is simultaneously based on an acceptance of abstract fallibility (“Who is to say what constitutes good art?”) and a casual certitude that we‘re right about exclusive assertions that feel like facts (“The Wire represents the apex of television”). "1/2

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Prettytears
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“Do you unconsciously believe that Shakespeare was an objectively better playwright than his two main rivals, Christopher Marlowe and Ben Jonson? If so, have no fear—as far as the world is concerned, he was. He is remembered in a way that Marlowe and Jonson are not, particularly by those who haven‘t really thought about any of these guys, ever.
To matter forever, you need to matter to those who don‘t care. And if that strikes you as sad, be sad."

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RamsFan1963
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Pickpick

Very interesting idea, looking at the present from a future perspective, challenging all the ideas we are so sure are true, from the true function of gravity to less important things like how will current music be perceived 100 or 500 years from now. 4 💥💥💥💥 out of 5.

Ms_T Sounds fascinating! 7mo
Prettytears Just got this book, can't wait to start it😃 7mo
BibliOphelia I ❤️ Klosterman! 7mo
RamsFan1963 @BibliOphelia This is my first time reading Klosterman, but it won't be the last. 7mo
BibliOphelia @RamsFan1963 He‘s never disappointed me! 7mo
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DoonTheGoon
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"Travel light", I said. "Don't buy books on vacation", I said.
Whoops. ?
(Two were gifted to me... but still...)

catebutler I always fail at this too! 8mo
35 likes1 comment
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Graciouswarriorprincess
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Starting this book today. I love using Libby. Who else enjoys Libby?

Soubhiville I use both Libby and Hoopla. I find they have different books available. I prefer the operations of Libby, but it often has waiting lists for the books I want, whereas Hoopla books are always Available with no wait. 10mo
MelissaSue81 @Soubhiville - do you use them through different library systems? 10mo
MelissaSue81 I love Libby 10mo
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Graciouswarriorprincess @Soubhiville I use both too for the same reasons. @MelissaSue81 Yes, I have several library cards linked to my Libby account. @MelissaSue81 👍🏻😉 10mo
MaureenMc Love Libby! 10mo
Soubhiville @MelissaSue81 yes I have cards with two different cities. 10mo
38 likes6 comments
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Schlinkles
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Pickpick

I‘ve read all of Chuck Klosterman‘s other books and this one didn‘t disappoint. I think he has a unique way of looking at things and I always find myself thinking and talking about things from his books for a long time after I finish reading them. If something sticks with me like that, it‘s a definite plus.

Wellreadhead I‘ve been a big fan of his ever since I read Eating the Dinosaur 1y
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Schlinkles
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I love a good footnote.

dsfisher That is hysterical! 1y
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christinacanread
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Pickpick

I really enjoyed this, as I do all of Klosterman‘s works. I love a good thought experiment, and that‘s all this book is. Each chapter tackles a different facet of our lives (music, movies, the night the color of a dress caused everyone to collectively lose their minds) and makes you think about it in a different way.

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christinacanread
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“On the evening of February 26, 2015, I (along with millions of other people) experienced a cultural event that—at least for a few hours—seemed authentically unexplainable... But I still think about that night. Not because of what happened, but because of how it felt while it was transpiring.”

OMG HE‘S TALKING ABOUT THE DAMN DRESS. I vividly remember that night, thinking I was going insane. All because of the way people perceive color. Smh. 😂

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britt_brooke
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Pickpick

“History is defined by people who don‘t really understand what they are defining.”

This was a really fascinating and thought-provoking read! Klosterman takes a sociological look at several cultural facets, asking sometimes bizarre, but poignant questions. I particularly liked the part about authors and writing (naturally!) and the section on the US Constitution. Overall, a great read!

Reviewsbylola Sounds interesting! I‘ve read one of his other books and enjoyed it. I think it was 2y
britt_brooke @Reviewsbylola I read that one a few years ago and remember nothing about it. 😬 Think I might reread if I can grab it on audio. 2y
Billypar I liked this one- maybe my favorite Klosterman. I listened to the audio version also- at first I was disappointed it wasn't read by the author since he has such a distinctive voice but Fiona Hardingham won me over. I thought she had an interesting delivery- kinda robotic in some ways, but it fit the material really well somehow. 2y
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C.Perone Brilliant read! 2y
britt_brooke @Billypar I felt exactly the same about the audio. 😁 2y
britt_brooke @C.Perone So interesting! 2y
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britt_brooke
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Klosterman citing #Vonnegut? I‘m in! 👏🏻 Here, he‘s referencing Vonnegut‘s statement that current technology should not be left out of writing in order to make it more accessible. Write about what matters now; reflect reality.

I‘m really enjoying this book so far! I‘m switching between #audio and #ebook, both via #overdrive.

JamieArc Interesting! I‘ve been thinking about this a lot. I seem to be reading things that refer to specific technology and wonder if it‘s a book that people will want to read years from now... 2y
britt_brooke @JamieArc Klosterman goes into a lot of detail about it in this section. I have mixed feelings about it, but I do think it would be difficult to write about present day without at least referencing a computer or smartphone, etc. Maybe generic terms can test time longer than very specific terms. Idk. It‘s an interesting topic to consider! 2y
C.Perone I really enjoyed this book. SO much to ponder 2y
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britt_brooke @C.Perone Agree! 2y
Notafraidofwords Have you gotten to the simulation is life section? 2y
KimHM If you haven‘t already, you might try his I Wear the Black Hat next, so delightfully twisty. 2y
britt_brooke @KimHM Thanks! Just stacked it. 👍🏻👍🏻 2y
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britt_brooke
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Andrew65 😂😂😂 2y
vivastory Is this your first klosterman? 2y
britt_brooke @vivastory Second. I read Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs a few years ago. 👍🏻 2y
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vivastory The only one I've read is his novel. I really enjoyed it 2y
Aswenson I used to live in tiny Wyndmere, ND where he grew up! 😁 2y
britt_brooke @vivastory I‘ll have to stack that one - thanks! 2y
britt_brooke @Aswenson Cool! 💚 2y
102 likes7 comments
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mdemanatee
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#currentlistening I may be nocturnal now

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slightlyfoxed
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1. I get most of my books from the library where I work - both print and through Overdrive.
2. 10! My mom refers to my feet as “skis,” because they‘re so long and narrow.
3. Chips and salsa/guac/queso.
4. Parks & Rec forever!

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Notafraidofwords
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Pickpick

But what if we‘re wrong? That‘s the question Klosterman asks. I really enjoyed this nonfiction book about the ways in which we look at the past with eyes of the present. And the ways in which we look at the future with eyes of the present. Both ways lead to error. This book is very rabbit hole-ish. Yet, I liked sinking into probable scenarios. The part that talks about simulation freaked me out. Anyone ever heard of that theory?

CatchMyBookBreath LOVED this book! I love books which question my own thoughts. Thanks for the share! 👍 2y
Notafraidofwords @CatchMyBookBreath We have this book was so trippy I‘ve never heard of him but I‘m interested to read his other stuff. Did you buy the simulation theory at all? 2y
CatchMyBookBreath Lol Well, just like the book says, I can't say for sure whether it's true or false. I've heard about the theory before and the most i can hope for is that more info comes to live in the next 100-200 years and we can look back to see what ideas from today prove testable. 2y
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Notafraidofwords @CatchMyBookBreath That‘s true. I guess what would trip me up about that is that I feel very much like I have a soul and that I was created for something other than a kid playing me as a video game… Does that make sense? 2y
CatchMyBookBreath @Notafraidofwords It makes cognitive sense but... What if we're wrong? Lol (sorry, couldn't resist). For me, we just can't know either way so...what will I do with this not knowing? I believe we make our own meaning so whether some kid is playing as me, or that's some divine force, or that's no divine force , the program I'm running with still allows me to move forward in life. 2y
CatchMyBookBreath @Notafraidofwords I have met too many people who are so wrapped up in trying to determine what happens to us before and after we are alive that they forget to live. While i enjoy finding comfort in knowledge, I can't only believe in this that make me comfy. Besides, curiosity is a value I hold higher than comfort. 😊 2y
CatchMyBookBreath Lol Sorry about the novel-length reply! Glad you liked the book! What's your next read like this? 2y
Notafraidofwords @CatchMyBookBreath I might pick up another of his. I find his style of writing intriguing . I wouldn‘t want to be married to him, but don‘t mind reading him for a couple of hours. I think whatever the case might be, I think we create a life with the little that is given to us. Or for some people the much that has been giving to us. Although if this is all a simulation, it sort of explains dictators in such a different way. It‘s all so interesting 2y
JazzFeathers Sounds really inyetesting. I've seen many times, even here on litsy, judging books from past with today's eyes. It is something that really bothers me 2y
Notafraidofwords @JazzFeathers yeah, I can see that. 2y
Billypar Really liked this one too- I'm definitely a fan. This was different from the other books of essays and reviews I've read that weren't about a single theme. But I just like his writing style and how he frames his arguments - I don't even have to agree with everything to enjoy them. 2y
Notafraidofwords @Billypar yes exactly. I feel the same way. Lots of things didn‘t seem plausible but the fact that he was able to form an argument made it cool. 2y
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C.Perone
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Pickpick

Yep, it really will turn your thoughts upside down🤯
#BooksThatMakeYouGoHmmm

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Bookwormjillk
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Enjoying this audiobook even if it is full of deep thoughts that make my head spin.

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Riveted_Reader_Melissa
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Yep, an error! @Laura317 @monkeygirlsmama

Maybe they were hacked too!

monkeygirlsmama 😆Glad to hear it! 2y
CocoReads 😂😄 2y
Laura317 Whew!! Glad to hear it! 2y
54 likes3 comments
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Riveted_Reader_Melissa
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My mom just got this weather alert on her phone!

My first thought...that has to be a mistake!
My second thought....It's the beginning of The Day After Tomorrow!
Third Thoughts... The Wintersmith is coming!
Forth thoughts... there are no issues with our climate, right!? 🙄

Riveted_Reader_Melissa @Laura317 I goggled the storm name, they've used that name before in 2016.... so I'm thinking it's a really weird goof-up! 2y
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Laura317 @Riveted_Reader_Melissa I hope you're right!!! 2y
monkeygirlsmama Yeah, I think Jonas went through in Jan 2016. I could be wrong, but I suspect somebody made a boo boo or is playing a very belated April Fools joke. 😂🤞 2y
Reviewsbylola 🤣🤣🤣🤣 Its hilarious now that I know it was sent in error. 2y
Gezemice Winter is here. Got GoT? 2y
46 likes7 comments
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Billypar
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Pickpick

I loved it- one of his best. If you like other Chuck K for his style and how his brain works, this is for you. If you only like him when he's talking about cultural stuff you're into, maybe not. I've never read a book advocating a style of thinking without a 'punchline' - the gist is looking at present society with the presumption that something or things we automatically take for givens are wrong. Very fun, well -reasoned, and thought-provoking

Billypar Sidenote on the audio version: I assumed he was the kind of author who would read his own book- but he only did the intro and conclusion and Fiona Hardingham was the reader. I was disappointed at first but she won me over, even though you couldn't imagine a voice that is further from the author's. 2y
AmyG I have this on audio, so thanks for the heads up. Love Chuck Closterman. 2y
17 likes2 comments
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Publius
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Today's read is more of a listen

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volatilestatic
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Pickpick

Giving this one a 4/5, because while it was interesting and engaging, the way Klosterman presented some issues (like ❄️?) was pretty cringey ?. As was all the ableist language; the constant use of "idiot/idiotic" didn't sit right with me. ??‍♀️

I'd blame the generation gap but I know too many Xers who know better. So maybe Klosterman is one of those smart, funny dudes you mostly like but still want to whack upside the head when he's ignorant.

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AMVP
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#maybookflowers day 9 - #truth

I'd love to see an updated edition of this for a world where the questioning of the nature of reality feels a lot less trivial. For what it's worth, Klosterman does touch on the issue of important truths coming under attack, though back in the innocent days of Summer 2016, that was climate change and not literally everything.

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Krisjericho
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Pickpick

The parts of this book I loved were fantastic and really blew my mind. The stuff about the multiverse theory and the theory that we live in a computer simulation was quite thought-provoking. The chapter on dreams was my favorite.

It tries to do too much. It covers all that stuff, and then has huge sections on pop culture - rock, TV, the NFL... it felt like two different books. I love pop culture, but this was better when it was bigger.

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Krisjericho
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Hahahahaha! This book is great.

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volatilestatic
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I am SO EXCITED about the #readathon tomorrow! I chose lots of short books this year. I got majorly bogged down last time and wound up not finishing because of it. Short books for short attention spans. #adhd

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Krisjericho
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Love this quote. He uses the example of Pride and Prejudice.

Riveted_Reader_Melissa I enjoyed this part too! 3y
JazzFeathers That is so true 🎯 3y
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Krisjericho
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So much worthwhile stuff in this one.

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AMVP
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#marchintoreading day 24 - #autobuyauthor

Haven't been grabbed by either of his fiction books, but I'm all in for Klosterman's essays (got I Wear the Black Hat as an e-book).

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Riveted_Reader_Melissa
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Pickpick

I enjoyed the mental gymnastic and general brain trippiness of this book which looks at the present and all the things we take for granted as universally true through the lens of time and asks...in the future will we still feel the same about this as we do now, & what if a great many of the things we accept as fundamentally true at this time are looked back on as fundamentally wrong. How might the future look back on today's certainties. 🙃

Texreader Fun concepts to think about!! 3y
Notafraidofwords I bailed half way through this one but wish I would have stuck it thru. 3y
Riveted_Reader_Melissa @Notafraidofwords maybe try it again later. Maybe audiobook or a slow read, one section and then a break before the next would help you? 3y
Notafraidofwords @Riveted_Reader_Melissa yeah, I'm going to get it from the library again and try a second time. The reason I bailed is because it was due back. 3y
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Riveted_Reader_Melissa
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This book was written pre-Trump era (published last June/July), but this part when I came across it today...made me laugh out loud and then rewind and pay close attention. I think I need to find this "Voodoo Histories" book ASAP, and I'm betting his sales might go up in the next few years.

...not only in its reframing of history, but its marginalization of those who believe in them...

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Riveted_Reader_Melissa
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"In 1999, it was almost impossible to find any example of a trans person within any realm of popular culture"
"the symbolic meaning of a universe with two worlds-one false & constructed, the other genuine & hidden-takes on an entirely new meaning. The idea of a character choosing between swallowing a blue pill that allows him to remain a false placeholder & a red pill that forces him to confront who he truly is becomes a much different metaphor."

Chessa I knew this about the Wachowski sibs, but how had I never put the red pill/blue pill thing together?! Mind blown, so interesting. 3y
Riveted_Reader_Melissa @Chessa I know, right! I felt the same... this book is great at shifting your perspective just a bit off center and looking at things a completely different way, it's trippy at times, but really good! 3y
Suet624 Wow. I didn't know..... 3y
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Riveted_Reader_Melissa
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This part reminded me of our Pride and Prejudice discussion @Gezemice

mrsthilkey 🤓 Love that! 3y
Gezemice Indeed! I remember when Harry Potter came out and it was regarded as just a kid's book (not to mention un-Christian). Nowadays it is on best books lists. I always tell to those who still are too lit snobs to read it that they are missing out on reading the greatest classic of our time. Who will remember the Man Booker Prize winners? Maybe 1 in 10 will still be read in thirty years. 3y
Riveted_Reader_Melissa @Gezemice Very true, this book follows that even further... most of the books we regard as classics hundreds of years after they were written weren't popular or even read when they were written. They had no commercial success. Moby Dick was a flop, and Kafka was unknown. He argues that if an author is popular in the present, the themes they speak to matter to us now... but that would not be the themes that future people find interesting. 3y
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Riveted_Reader_Melissa
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This book is mind bending at times, but still very good and thought provoking. But an interesting twisty logic for all of you reading #InfiniteJest at the moment for the #InfiniteJestBuddyRead

britt_brooke It's in my TBR! Thanks for sharing this bit on IJ. 👍🏻 3y
Lea I agree. And it made me add Infinite Jest to my TBR. 3y
Riveted_Reader_Melissa @britt_brooke @Lea It just one aside in this mind bending book about how what we see and think now might not be what is considered important hundreds of years from now.... he makes the argument that books like Moby Dick were flops when they were written, what makes it a classic is something we read into it now with future eyes that wasn't there or appreciated originally. It's about getting your brain to look at things a different way. (edited) 3y
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Riveted_Reader_Melissa
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Some of my possibilities for my TBR March!
#MarchInToReading #TBRMarch #MarchTBR

RealLifeReading So many good ones. Also thanks for the reminder that I should read Citizen already. 3y
Gezemice That looks a lot like mine 😉👍😍. I thought you already read the Underground Railroad? 3y
Riveted_Reader_Melissa @RealLifeReading I've been saying that myself for awhile... but the audio version showed up on hoopla so I snagged it! 3y
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Riveted_Reader_Melissa @Gezemice I meant to last year for a reading challenge, but I just didn't get to it. So it's a roll over that I should have read last year... but I know it's on your AtoZ list if you want to read it sometime this month too. If only I had known I wouldn't get that far, I could have planned it for my Letter U too🤗 3y
Riveted_Reader_Melissa @Gezemice I started So What If We're Wrong last night on audiobook... just the beginning of chapter one... but it sounds like one you'd enjoy. It's starts off with a great physics example from our read later this year Brian Greene as someone he was talking to about it. 3y
Gezemice @Riveted_Reader_Melissa I just finished the Underground Railroad, if you want to check it on my profile... 😊 So What If We Are Wrong sounds indeed interesting. I will check it out! 3y
Gezemice @Riveted_Reader_Melissa You know that you can change your plan? I do it all the time. Heve not done it yet for AtoZ but I am thinking of swapping my Q because I ran across Queen Isabella on my shelf and realized I have not read medieval history in a while and I used to love it. 3y
Riveted_Reader_Melissa @Gezemice Well if I don't not get to my original choice, I will definitely switch it out for this one then! 3y
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Lea
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Pickpick

Some of the ideas made my brain was to explode but I think the topic is really interesting. The writing is good. Sometimes I thought it got a little off thinking of the present as the past. Overall I enjoyed it. #libraryreads #readharder

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bookishk8t
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Only read the introduction, but Klosterman has already convinced me that maybe we're wrong about gravity... I am so here for this book.

Lea Does it sort of freak you out? Haha I just started this and the idea of gravity not being gravity kind of freaks me out! 3y
bookishk8t Oh my gosh at first, yea, but then I realized that must have been how Newton's peers felt about his apple / tree talk, so I decided to settle in and let Klosterman do his thing. It's really fascinating so far! 3y
7 likes2 comments
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Bethanyleann
Mehso-so

Great, thought provoking read about thinking about the present as if it were the past. I only gave it a so-so because it was written as short essays about different topics and honestly some of the topics I didn't care so much about. I love the idea of holding truth with humility and wonder though.

Lea Haha but he says it's not essays! 😜Which I thought was a really odd way to start a book. 3y
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Erin01
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Pickpick

this audiobook took me a long time to get through but overall I really enjoyed it
🌟🌟🌟🌟

Lea I decided to read it. A lot of the audio reviews were poor, especially since he didn't narrate it. Did you feel that way? 3y
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Jana
Bailedbailed

This is a fascinating, well-written book, typical of Chuck Klosterman, that my brain just could not handle right now. It was too twisty and intricate and I think it was just not the right time for me to read it. Might give it another shot in a few months. This is definitely a case of it's not you, it's me. And not in a sarcastic way. It's legit true.

Notafraidofwords I got half way through this one and bailed. 3y
Jana @Notafraidofwords It was just too much. Circular and illogical but made sense at the same time. I couldn't do it. 3y
Notafraidofwords @Jana exactly. He kept saying the same things but using different examples. The examples were interesting though. 3y
10 likes3 comments
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DarthDeadpool
Pickpick

Loved it! This was such an enjoyable read.

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Stylishbooknerd
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"Consumed today, Beowulf is mostly about what isn't there. And that will be the same for whatever 2016 text survives into 3016."

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Yossarian
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Chuck Klosterman is so eloquent.

BilboBookends Ha! What a great quote 👌🏻 3y
Anescapewithinthepages This quote is life 👌🏻 3y
katedensen 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻 3y
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Yossarian
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"The failure ruins Melville's life: He becomes an alcoholic and a poet, and eventually a customs inspector."

I like the implied downward trajectory of his life this sentence assumes:

NOVELIST > ALCOHOLIC > POET > CUSTOMS INSPECTOR.

StephBengtson Hahaha 😂 3y
OhNoMersault Even Klosterman's terrible works are quippier than everybody else. 3y
TheLondonBookworm 😂😂😂😂 3y
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ReadThisBookYall Love this! I just picked up Klosterman's pop culture essays at a little library & I'm reminded how perceptive he is on zeitgeist-y things 3y
saresmoore Hahaha! 3y
Blaire 😂😂😂 3y
ValerieAndBooks Thanks for the laugh 😂! 3y
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Reita325
Pickpick

One of my favorite writers who never fails to give me a lot to think about.

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Lindy
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Pickpick

In the mood for some intellectual stimulation, some wondering about things we take for granted (gravity, for example)? This should fit the bill: witty, unsettling, informal, clever and sometimes glib, always entertaining.

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Lindy
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The moment machines become self-aware, they will try to destroy people. What's latently disturbing about this plot device is the cynicism of the logic. Our assumption is that computers will only act rationally. If the ensuing assumption is that human-built machines would immediately try to kill all the humans it means that doing so must be the most rational decision possible, and [...] the creators must fractionally believe this too.

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Lindy
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For yet-to-be-conceived cultural historians, tv will be a portal into the past. It will be a way to psychically contact the late 20th century with an intimacy & depth that can only come from visual fiction, without any need for imagination or speculation. It won't be a personal, interpretive experience, like reading a book.

charl08 Or not. 3y
Dragon I saw this picture and immediately had to start singing "Moving on up to the east side..." George and Louise ❤️️ 3y
Riveted_Reader_Melissa I really need to pick up this book soon! 3y
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Lindy @charl08 @dragon @Riveted_Reader_Melissa Klosterman thinks tv commercials & news would be of greatest interest to future historians. 3y
Dragon What not sit-coms and theme music? Although that Zoom Zoom Zoom car commercial was pretty good 😊 3y
Lindy @dragon I just googled the zoom zoom zoom commercial. Fun! But it doesn't topple my favourite: the sheep shagger Toyota Hilux ad. 3y
BekahB I love Klosterman's comments on pop culture! I need to pick this one up. 3y
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