New York Times bestselling author 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 (or--weirder still--widely known, but entirely disrespected)? Is it possible that we "overrate" democracy? And perhaps most disturbing, is it possible that we've reached the end of knowledge?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."
- ISBN-13: 9780399184123
- ISBN-10: 0399184120
- Publisher: American Book Company
- Publish Date: February 2018
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.