Fantastic book. I was, at first, reluctant to read it because it was by John Dean of Watergate and Nixon infamy, however the cover jacket text and random sampling showed it was not a bunch of conservative propaganda. Especially interesting if a bit tedious are the tables at the back documenting how personalities of people lay out in conservative thinking. But mainly his basic prose is lucid and insightful.
Really good book. I am enjoying learning so many things from this book.
Here is a sample passage on p. 86 on the topic of vibrato.
Vibrato, the slight wavering in pitch, is often employed by contemporary string players, and it is a good example of the effect of recordings, because it’s something we take for granted as always having been there. We tend to think, “That’s how violin players play. That’s the nature of how one plays that instrument.” It wasn’t, and it’s not. Katz contends that before the advent of recording, vibrato added to a note was considered kitschy, tacky, and was universally frowned upon, unless one absolutely had to use it when playing in the uppermost registers. Vibrato as a technique, whether employed in a vocal performance or with a violin, helps mask pitch discrepancies, which might explain why it was considered “cheating.” As recording became more commonplace in the early part of the twenty century, it was found that by using a bit more by vibrato, not only could the volume of the instrument be increased (very important when there was only one mic or a single huge horn to capture an orchestra or ensemble), but the pitch – now painfully and permanently apparent – could be smudged by adding the wobble.”
“Totalitarianism for Christ” is the phrase by Jeff Sharlet (NPR) he uses in the book that I think does capture the factual basis of why the right is a serious threat to democracy.
“Fact is, progressives hate the Taliban and other Islamic fundamentalists precisely for the same reason we hate rabid conservatives at home: their fear of change, their contempt for nontraditional lifestyles, their mania for militaristic solutions, and their fascistic efforts to impose their narrow worldview on the rest of society.” [intro p x]
The book chapters are divided into 5 sections of type of illusions:
The Illusion of Literacy
The Illusion of Love
The Illusion of Wisdom
The Illusion of happiness
The Illusion of America
xplus notes, bibliography, and index
There are so many thoughtful and well written passages I have opted to mostly quote.
“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books, ” Neil postman wrote: “what Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book for there would be no one who wanted to read one. ” p 39
“Totalitarian systems begin as propagandistic movements that ostensibly teach people to “believe what they want” but that is a ruse. The Christian Right, for example, argues that it wants intelligent design, or creationism, to be offered as an alternative to evolution in public school biology classes. But once you allow creationism, which no reputable biologist or paleontologist accepts as legitimate science, to be considered as an alternative to real science, you begin the deadly assault against dispassionate, honest, intellectual inquiry. Step into the hermetic world of many Christian schools or colleges and there are no alternatives to creationism offered to students. Once the systems have control, the Christian advocates’ purported love of alternative viewpoints and debate is replaced by an iron and irrational conformity to illusion.” P. 52