Tuesday, November 22, 2011

David Foster Wallace on Civics

“Civics is the branch of political science that quote concerns itself with citizenship and the rights and duties of US citizens.”

“Americans are in a way crazy. We infantilize ourselves. We don’t think of ourselves as citizens, parts of something larger to which we have profound responsibilities. We think of ourselves as citizens when it comes to our rights and privileges, but not our responsibilities.”

“Corporations are getting better and better at seducing us into thinking the way they think, of profits as the telos and responsibility as something to be enshrined in symbol but evaded in reality. Cleverness as opposed to wisdom. Wanting and having instead of thinking and making.”

“We think of ourselves now as eaters of the pie instead of makers of the pie. So who makes the pie?”

“Something has happened where we’ve decided on a personal level that it’s all right to abdicate our individual responsibility to the common good and let government worry about the common good while we all go about our individual self-interested business and struggle to gratify our various appetites.”

“It’s like a fugue of evaded responsibility.”

“Sometimes what’s important is dull. Sometimes it’s work. Sometimes the important things aren’t works of art for your entertainment.”

“Because corporations got in the game and turned all the genuine principles and aspirations and ideology into a set of fashions and attitudes. They made rebellion a fashion pose instead of a real impetus.”

“We’re talking about the face and voice the corporate advertisers start using in the late sixties to talk the consumer into thinking he needs all this stuff. It starts talking about the consumer’s psyche being in bondage to conformity and the way to break out of the conformity is not to do certain things, but to buy certain things.”

“We’re turning into consuming citizens instead of producing citizens.”

“Voting’ll be unhip: Americans now vote with their wallets.”

“Carter represents the last gasp of the true New Frontier sixties idealism, then. His obvious decency and his political impotence have been conjoined in the voter’s psyche.”

“The new leader won’t lie to the people; he’ll do what corporate pioneers have discovered works far better: He’ll adopt the persona and rhetoric that let the people lie to themselves.”

“In other words we’ll have for a president a symbolic rebel against his own power whose election was underwritten by inhuman soulless profit-machines whose takeover of American civic and spiritual life will convince Americans that rebellion against the soulless inhumanity of corporate life will consist in buying products from corporations that do the best job of representing corporate life as empty and soulless. We’ll have a tyranny of conformist noncorformity presided over by a symbolic outsider whose very election depended on our deep conviction that his persona is utter bullshit.”

from The Pale King

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1 comment:

  1. “We’re turning into consuming citizens instead of producing citizens.”

    Some economist told us that it is consumption that drives the economy. Now I talk to so many relatively poor people who say they are trying to do their part to boost the economy by doing what the government has told the to do: Spend.

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