This collection exemplifies Geertz's extraordinary range of concerns, beginning with his first essay for the Review in 1967, in which he reviews, with muffled hilarity, the anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski. This book includes Geertz's unflinching meditations on Western academia's encounters with the non-Western world, and on the shifting and clashing places of societies in the world generally. Geertz writes eloquently and arrestingly about such major figures as Gandhi, Foucault, and Genet, and on topics as varied as Islam, globalization, feminism, and the failings of nationalism.
Life among the Anthros and Other Essays demonstrates Geertz's uncommon wisdom and consistently keen and hopeful humor, confirming his status as one of our most important and enduring public intellectuals.
Slouching Towards Gomorrah is a penetrating, devastatingly insightful exposé of a country in crisis at the end of the millennium, where the rise of modern liberalism, which stresses the dual forces of radical egalitarianism (the equality of outcomes rather than opportunities) and radical individualism (the drastic reduction of limits to personal gratification), has undermined our culture, our intellect, and our morality.
In a new Afterword, the author highlights recent disturbing trends in our laws and society, with special attention to matters of sex and censorship, race relations, and the relentless erosion of American moral values. The alarm he sounds is more sobering than ever: we can accept our fate and try to insulate ourselves from the effects of a degenerating culture, or we can choose to halt the beast, to oppose modern liberalism in every arena. The will to resist, he warns, remains our only hope.
In Pulphead, John Jeremiah Sullivan takes us on an exhilarating tour of our popular, unpopular, and at times completely forgotten culture. Simultaneously channeling the gonzo energy of Hunter S. Thompson and the wit and insight of Joan Didion, Sullivan shows us—with a laidback, erudite Southern charm that's all his own—how we really (no, really) live now.
In his native Kentucky, Sullivan introduces us to Constantine Rafinesque, a nineteenth-century polymath genius who concocted a dense, fantastical prehistory of the New World. Back in modern times, Sullivan takes us to the Ozarks for a Christian rock festival; to Florida to meet the alumni and straggling refugees of MTV's Real World, who've generated their own self-perpetuating economy of minor celebrity; and all across the South on the trail of the blues. He takes us to Indiana to investigate the formative years of Michael Jackson and Axl Rose and then to the Gulf Coast in the wake of Katrina—and back again as its residents confront the BP oil spill.
Gradually, a unifying narrative emerges, a story about this country that we've never heard told this way. It's like a fun-house hall-of-mirrors tour: Sullivan shows us who we are in ways we've never imagined to be true. Of course we don't know whether to laugh or cry when faced with this reflection—it's our inevitable sob-guffaws that attest to the power of Sullivan's work.