Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle

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A culture that cannot distinguish between reality and illusion dies. And we are dying now. We will either wake from our state of induced childishness, one where trivia and gossip pass for news and information, one where our goal is not justice but an elusive and unattainable happiness, to confront the stark limitations before us, or we will continue our headlong retreat into fantasy.

Empire of Illusion

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The New York Times bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Fascists and the NBCC finalist for War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning travels in Empire of Illusion to the ringside of professional wrestling bouts at Madison Square Garden, to Las Vegas to write about the pornographic film industry, and to academic conferences held by positive psychologists–who claim to be able to engineer happiness–to chronicle our terrifying flight as a culture into a state of illusion. He exposes the mechanisms used to divert us from confronting the economic, political, and moral collapse around us.

The more we sever ourselves from a literate, print-based world, a world of complexity and nuance, a world of ideas, for one informed by comforting, reassuring images, fantasies, slogans and a celebration of violence the more we implode. We ask, like the wrestling fans or those who confuse love with pornography, to be fed lies. We demand lies. The skillfully manufactured images and slogans that flood the airwaves and infect our political discourse mask reality. And we do not protest. The worse reality becomes, the less a beleaguered population wants to hear about it and the more it distracts itself with squalid pseudo-events of celebrity breakdowns, gossip and trivia. These are the debauched revels of a dying culture. In Empire of Illusion, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author writes about professional wrestling, the pornographic film industry and America’s rampant militarism and moral decay. He exposes the mechanisms that divert us from confronting the economic and political collapse around us.

Additional Information

Author Chris Hedges
Publisher Nation Books
Page Count 240pp
Publication Size 5.5 x 8
Publication Notes trade paperback
Publication Date October 5, 2010
ISBN 978-1568586137

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