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Publisher: Penguin Audiobooks$40.00
Klosterman visualizes the contemporary world as it will appear to those who'll perceive it as the distant past.Kinetically slingshotting through a broad spectrum of objective and subjective problems, But What If We re Wrong? is built on interviews with a variety of creative thinkers George Saunders, David Byrne, Jonathan Lethem, Kathryn Schulz, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Brian Greene, Junot Diaz, Amanda Petrusich, Ryan Adams, Nick Bostrom, Dan Carlin, and Richard Linklater, among others interwoven with the type of high-wire humor and nontraditional analysis only Klosterman would dare to attempt. It s a seemingly impossible achievement: a book about the things we cannot know, explained as if we did. It s about how we live now, once now has become then. "
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-04-18
- Reviewer: Staff
Klosterman (I Wear the Black Hat) conducts a series of intriguing thought experiments in this delightful new book about how we conceive of the future. He begins with a conundrum virtually all writers contemplate at some point: why do some writers achieve literary immortality while others are totally forgotten? From there, he works through similar questions with respect to rock music and then shifts to wondering which of our established scientific principles might be replaced in the centuries to come. This is pop philosophy, but Klosterman takes it seriously enough to bring in heavyweight experts such as Neil deGrasse Tyson and George Saunders. Klosterman also considers the long-term viability of the NFL and team sports in general. He asks, supposing that the ancient Egyptians had TV, which of their TV shows would interest us most—the Egyptian Breaking Bad? He argues that we’d want the most realistic portrait of society possible, and that level of realism is only achieved unintentionally. As usual, Klosterman’s trademark humor and unique curiosity propel the reader through the book. He remains one of the most insightful critics of pop culture writing today and this is his most thought-provoking and memorable book yet. (June)
The (staying) power of knowledge
Can we know anything with certainty? Of all the knowledge we hold dear today, what will we still be certain of 50 or 100 years from now?
In But What If We’re Wrong? Thinking About the Present as If It Were the Past, cultural critic Chuck Klosterman mischievously poses these questions about many aspects of culture and science in an effort to get us to consider the relative character of all knowledge.
Take team sports, for example. In Klosterman’s view, we’re building a world in which the competitive nature and emotionally and physically injurious character of team sports don’t fit as they once did. “We want a pain-free world where everyone is the same, even if they are not. That can’t happen in world where we’re still keeping score.”
Rock music, writes Klosterman, “will recede out of view, just as all great things eventually do.” Some 500 years from now, when a college professor attempts to bring to life the concept of rock music through one artist, will it be Chuck Berry or Bob Dylan? Klosterman doesn’t think it will be Dylan; if it is, though, he doesn’t know if that means things went right or wrong, but probably both.
As it turns out, it’s not so much that anyone’s right or wrong about various matters; it’s just that the cultural contexts in which all knowledge is viewed change from one generation to the next. One thing we can be certain of: We’re all wrong some of the time.