But it’s already clear that Wikipedia, along with other crowd-sourced resources, is wreaking a certain amount of McLuhanesque havoc on conventional notions of “authority,” “authorship,” and even “knowledge.”
This is true, but only in a shallow sense […]
I especially love his conclusion. But disagree entirely with the idea that anyone can steal anyone else’s authority. The trouble with personal authority is that you have to reach out and take it. You can’t expect to just lie back and receive it.
What really makes me crazy is that nobody ever seems to talk about the success of Portugal, who legalized everything and lo, did the world end in Portugal NO and it won’t, either, not even on Saturday. They just saved a ton of money and also regained their sanity, is all.
“Toft, now a private security consultant, thinks back to the heady days after the fall of Escobar, the days when winning the War on Drugs seemed only a matter of dispatching more American helicopters to the Andes. “The first couple years, I had this very naive idea that I was really going to make a huge impact,” he says. “But after a while, you start realizing that without a concerted effort to reduce demand, it’s not going to happen. Over the years, I came to see my job as basically keeping the lid on the garbage can trying to sit on that lid and prevent that garbage can from overflowing. If you talk to a hundred agents, that’s what almost all of them would say. We’re just being realistic.”
A consideration of Franzen the phenomenon is not the same thing as a consideration of his works; both approaches can be interesting. But author Tim Parks (a bit of a braggart himself) has confused the two. He is uneasy with what he alleges is Franzen’s contemptuous superiority to the America and Americans of Freedom, and more broadly with the idea of American Fiction generally, which I guess he finds the whole thing provincial. The Great American Novelist, fine, that is an old-fashioned mythical beast. And there is still maybe this European idea that fiction, in order to be excellent, must be like Kafka’s, stateless, about and for Everyman; Parks seems to like that better which, whatever.
But what Parks is missing (and the real reason why I suspect European writers as well as Americans have embraced Franzen) is that Freedom reflects true and widely-held attitudes about America, that is to say, attitudes that are held by an immense number of Americans themselves. Franzen himself would never claim to be anything but American, indeed he is resolutely American. He is scolding, sure, but he is scolding his own family.