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Ch. 1: The Illusion of Literacy 
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Krysondra wrote:
etudiant wrote:
Another, darker, side of escapism may be the endless ultra-violent pictures being made today. A way to vicariously vent subconscious rage and angst?


I think that this is completely the case. Hedges purports that wrestling reflects the rage and the struggle of the people on a large scale. I think that movies reflect the dreams and hopes of the populace on an even larger level. These movies (and let's not forget videogames) are made for the purpose of the vicarious vent. This vicarious venting leaves no room for anger to build up at the appropriate sources. Instead of hating a government that does not take care of its people or a corporation that is destroying our environment, people expend their anger on the bad guy in the movie theater or the game.

Everyone will have his or her own opinion as to which form of popular entertainment is the worst. My impression of wrestling is that it is mainly carnival that the fans don't take seriously as violence; there is a lot of the fun of melodrama in it for them. A client at work who is devoted to it says cheeerfully that it's all fake. There have certainly been, and are still, worse entertainments than this. Maybe I'm influenced by the Mickey Rourke movie "The Wrestler," which is kind of poignant and pictures wrestling as essentially harmless.

Movie and videogame violence mystifies me. I mean I just don't see any thrill and in fact action movies, whether they're showing things getting blown up or people getting blown away, bore the crap out of me. After one action sequence I'm finished and want the movie to be over. Superhero flicks are probably the worst offenders. Action movies are also bigger fantasies than anything else out there. A human being just doesn't go around wisecracking as someone is trying to blow his head off.



Mon Nov 09, 2009 9:14 am
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I came across an article on the net that offers an illuminating viewpoint on many of the topics in the Hedges book.

As I was reading this, I thought of some of the authoritarian countries in the world where political opposition or overt critical dissent are not permitted. If there is no legal, accepted, and organized channel to express one’s views, then the next option seems to be the street. If the lid is kept on the pot long enough, it will boil over, spilling any which way. I think we have seen a good example of this recently in Iran. Real opposition is not permitted, and has been successfully squelched until recently when anger over a rigged election boiled over, and people simply poured out into the streets, demonstrating. This is not a long-term prescription for stability, to say the least.

In the US there are effectively two political parties, neither of which has questioned or seriously challenged the status quo over about the last twenty years at least. Even Barak Obama, riding a groundswell of enthusiasm for change, is now trying to squeeze through a health care plan that still leaves private insurance companies a feeding spot at the trough. It seems changing momentum is very hard indeed, even when voted for.

In Canada we have three main federal political parties, although the left-leaning one is often roundly ridiculed because of its mildly “socialist” policies, in the media and elsewhere. By socialist, I mean ideas like a national health plan, public transit, women’s rights, etc. They are sometimes compared to vodka swilling, aging Russians, nostalgic for the good old days of communism. Such is the rigidity of the public mindset.

Some food for thought.


http://www.truthout.org/091509A



Mon Nov 09, 2009 6:49 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Illusion of Literacy
I finished Hedge's book and as for the 2nd chapter, dry crackers were not enough. One thing I find interesting is that Hedges is applying his theory only to America. Fair enough if he feels that that is where his area of expertise lies. But I would apply it to other countries as well. Germany is certainly no exception. Until 3 years ago, German universities were free of charge and accessible to any student who had the grades good enough to be accepted. Suddenly there are semester fees (granted, nothing like in the States, but nevertheless a shock to the German Social way of thinking) which many students can't afford and several universities have been selected, deemed, to be "elite", thus doing away with small faculties such as some of the Nordic languages, anthropology, Mesopotamian Archaeology, etc. All Humanties, of course.
The television shows are hardly European on German television,, the shows being bought from the US and dubbed. We have gone from a rather high quality broadcasting system to raunchy voyeurism. The shows that are not bought directly are simply taken over and presented as copies with German actors, etc. At least we do have a couple of channels that present serious, more intellectually stimulating fare.
One thing Hedges did mention was that good drama, a good play or theater, is intellectually stimulating, so he doesn't ban all forms of entertainment outside of reading. I do find it interesting, however, that he doesn't go off on a tangent and attack smut lit , bookstores that aren't worthy of the name, authors who churn out one trite book after another and are lauded for their "literary achievements", etc. Afterall, what good does it do if in the 20% of American families that are left (he claims 80% have not bought a book last year) buy "junk literature", porno books, etc. What types of books does he include in his statistics? Book is not simply book.
My other problem with Hedges (although I must admit here that I certainly agree with his "be -literate- and -think" -else -we'll -end -up -dead- as -a -culture-concept) is that he plays the "game" and then complains about it. I'm thinking here of his son's SAT scores and his hiring of a $7000 tutor to remedy them, enabling his son to "play the game".
All in all it is a good book, a book of warning (although those who need to read the warning obviously won't). And I especially agree with his warning that language is important. Especially foreign languages which are systematically being deleted from education (convenient: if you can't communicate with other people, you can't be "contaminated" by their ideas, nor can you complain to them or compare news, etc).


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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Illusion of Literacy
I've just gotten started with this book as well as the one by Howard Bloom and at first blush I'm struck by the contrast between their points of view. Hedges seems very pessimistic (I'm wondering to what extent he's going to offer solutions or if he's just griping about a problem he sees as unfixable) while Bloom seems very optimistic. I would guess that Hedges might point to Bloom as one of the cultural figures offering us an overly optimistic viewpoint. I imagine Hedges might characterize Bloom's viewpoint (bearing in mind that I've just barely had time to begin forming an impression of what each is saying :)) as "Just reframe it all and everything will be fine."


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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Illusion of Literacy
(this is what I had previously posted before disappearing)

I agree with much of what has been said already. I realized while reading the book that I felt the same way as Hedges before without being able to articulate it. The one thing I have not been able to do is watch reality television. It annoys me. I keep thinking about the camera and lighting crews on those sets: if it’s so dangerous/difficult/strenuous for those appearing on shows like Survivor, how about the ones who are schlepping around cameras and lights and cables? If any of us were dropped into a jungle or washed ashore on an uninhabited island, or wanted to meet the person of our dreams, we wouldn’t be doing so with a well-oiled industry of professional make-up artists, marketing execs, producers, etc. etc. surrounding us.

And, of course, winning is everything. Morals and compassion have no place in these fantasy worlds.

As Hedges points out: “Appearances make everything whole. Plastic surgeons, fitness gurus, diet doctors, therapists, life coaches, interior designers, and fashion consultants all, in essence, promise to make us happy, to make us celebrities.”

Of course, a large part of the population seems to find these shows very seductive, otherwise those making money off them would move on to something else very quickly. And yet how many realize that it takes an army of people to “manipulate the shadows”, as Hedges describes it: “agents, publicists, marketing departments …. No one achieves celebrity status, no cultural illusion is swallowed as reality, without these armies of cultural enablers and intermediaries.”

As well, it’s interesting when Hedges says that “who are critical, those who are able to confront reality are shunned and condemned for their pessimism“. I found an example of this today at work - I’m a legal secretary and one of the lawyers told me she had made a comment during an informal departmental meeting about the reasons why one long-time partner at our firm has decided to leave. All the others mentioned how this lawyer had been offered such a good deal at the other place, it wasn’t surprising he left (i.e. so much money was thrown at him, he couldn’t refuse). He was a commodity to be bought for the highest price (as Hedges describes), not an individual with feelings of fairness and decency and unwilling to continue with the charade of goodwill masking the nastiness and back-stabbing reality of what was going on in the office.

When she dared comment that perhaps there was more to it than that, that maybe, just maybe, it was because of issues and conflicts here at the office that ultimately made him decide to leave, she was made to feel like a pariah. “Everything is just fine here”, was the standard remark, despite the fact that several people have been jumping ship lately (despite the economy). It is the classic refusal to confront reality that Hedges talks about, because to do so would necessitate, as mentioned by a previous poster, working at change, taking a hard look within to see what the problem is, and then slowly, painstakingly arriving at some kind of solution. Illusion demands so much less of us.



Tue Nov 17, 2009 6:41 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Illusion of Literacy
I was reading a lecture Joseph Campbell gave in 1974. Regardless of what one may think about him, he says "We are in what is called a wasteland. T.S Elliot put his finger on it, back there in 1922. What is a wasteland? It is a land of people living without aspiration, going through the routine of their lives, doing things they are told to do because they don't have the courage to do something they want to do... We are in a realm what I would describe as a terminal moraine of myths. But the interesting things about a mythological image is that you can interpret it in your own way...
I can see looking at the young people today the myths they are living by. Everyone is going around in a masquerade. And the only ones that are hard to take are the ones who take their masquerade seriously. The real wonderful thing is to play the game--that's as man has developed always..." (in Parabola Magazine,Vol 34, No 4.).
Campbell tackles the problem in 1974 and quotes Eliot, who tackled it in 1922. Seems like this isn't exactly a new topic, is it?
Hedges, Campbell or Eliot: certainly words of warning to an eternal problem.


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Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:38 am
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Post Re:
DWill wrote:
Everyone will have his or her own opinion as to which form of popular entertainment is the worst. My impression of wrestling is that it is mainly carnival that the fans don't take seriously as violence; there is a lot of the fun of melodrama in it for them. A client at work who is devoted to it says cheeerfully that it's all fake. There have certainly been, and are still, worse entertainments than this.


I don't believe that the problem is people thinking that wrestling is real, the true problem is much more subtle. The real damage is that things like wrestling slowly, but noticably, erode at general standards of society. There is no doubt that standards of acceptable behaviour and acceptable language have significantly lowered in our lifetime. I don't think you can point at wrestling alone and say it has caused this, but I think you can point at an amalgem of causes; wrestling, music, television, advertising, video games, internet and more.

I laugh today when I hear songs that our parents thought were inappropriate or controversial, they seem absolutely benign by today's standards. But maybe our parents were right. We made an occasional curse word and covert sex or drug inference acceptable, and that started us on the road to the profanity laden mysogonistic music that is everywhere today.

I remember as a boy that we had to "dress properly" anytime we flew on an airplane, which meant a sportcoat and tie. It seemed ridiculous. Now I see people get on airplanes in pajama pants and slippers and I realize that society should have some level of expectation of people, but we don't.

I hate to sound like a crotchety old guy when I'm still shy of 50, but even as a bleeding heart liberal I think we should elevate the standards of society.


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Wed Nov 18, 2009 1:36 pm
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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Illusion of Literacy
oblivion wrote:
Campbell tackles the problem in 1974 and quotes Eliot, who tackled it in 1922. Seems like this isn't exactly a new topic, is it?
Hedges, Campbell or Eliot: certainly words of warning to an eternal problem.

No, it's not a new topic. It seems to be a problem created by capitalism. Spreading wealth out creates opportunities for more of the population, as without poverty they have the wherewithal to buy things and indulge in more expensive entertainments. The new consumer class is also essential to the growth of consumer economies. The intellectual class has always looked on the philistines with great disdain. I can't necessarily deny that our whole culture is becoming more debased, but I think it's good to keep in mind the source of most of the criticism. Would I want to endorse the social vision of T.S. Eliot, or his contemporary W.B. Yeats? No, these were both anti-democratic writers. Eliot presents a powerful vision in "The Wasteland," but he also idealizes England's past, wanting us believe in an Elizabethan golden age. Intellectuals write most of the books in the world, but they shouldn't be immune from criticism themselves.


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Wed Nov 18, 2009 10:00 pm
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Post Re: Re:
CWT36 wrote:
I laugh today when I hear songs that our parents thought were inappropriate or controversial, they seem absolutely benign by today's standards. But maybe our parents were right. We made an occasional curse word and covert sex or drug inference acceptable, and that started us on the road to the profanity laden mysogonistic music that is everywhere today.

I remember as a boy that we had to "dress properly" anytime we flew on an airplane, which meant a sportcoat and tie. It seemed ridiculous. Now I see people get on airplanes in pajama pants and slippers and I realize that society should have some level of expectation of people, but we don't.

I hate to sound like a crotchety old guy when I'm still shy of 50, but even as a bleeding heart liberal I think we should elevate the standards of society.

The legacy of the 1960s seemed to be a very mixed one! Once our best capitalists found out that most of this cultural destruction and innovation had great commercial potential, the old standards of dress, behavior, and taste were finished.


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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Illusion of Literacy
DWill wrote:
Intellectuals write most of the books in the world, but they shouldn't be immune from criticism themselves.

This quote should be emblazoned on everything in gold! I enjoyed your comments.


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Thu Nov 19, 2009 2:21 am
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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Illusion of Literacy
Naw CWT36, you’re not getting old and crotchety. Thinks really have changed a great deal.

There was a popular TV show in the 1950s called “I Love Lucy”. In one of the episodes, the wife of the one of the protagonist married couples became pregnant. There was great controversy at the time over whether the word “pregnant” could be used on TV. Fast forward to today, where a well known CBC TV interviewer offered a brief opinion on oral sex during his program, causing not a ripple of comment.

I think that even looking at movies from the 60s and 70s, and certainly earlier, one can detect a shift in manners and communication style.



"No, it's not a new topic. It seems to be a problem created by capitalism. Spreading wealth out creates opportunities for more of the population, as without poverty they have the wherewithal to buy things and indulge in more expensive entertainments. The new consumer class is also essential to the growth of consumer economies."



I think one of the defining characteristics of developed and relatively affluent countries is the existence of a middle class. It is this group that tends to keep money in circulation, promoting employment and industry. Some of the most benighted places in the world today have not developed a middle class. The expansion of the middle class took place largely because of social legislation, and often in defiance of capitalism, IMO.

I feel somewhat ambivalent about how having money relates to being boorish, ignorant, or uninformed. Certainly there are many examples in history of those at the top of the socio-economic pyramid setting new standards of depravity and crudeness. And we have seen many bone-headed decisions from the elite, from the charge of the light brigade to Iraq. But I suppose there are others at the base of the pyramid who take the intellectually and culturally easy road, and relax with the Jerry Springer show.


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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Illusion of Literacy
Due to the recent cases of teenagers running amok and killing fellow students, teachers, passers-by and ultimately, themselves, in Germany, there has been a highly public discussion on banning violent computer games. Though I agree that these games show no respect for life, human or otherwise, I nevertheless find it naive to assign one single cause to the problem. This seems like a scape-goat attitude. Technology seems to have been chosen as the demon. Playing the devil's advocate here: assuming these teenagers were not playing computer games (most of them were found to have been devout players of violent pc games) but instead reading violent literature (and here again, one of them was indeed an avid reader and highly intelligent to boot)--would this result in a book-burning orgy? Parents' groups here attempted to have public "violent computer games" burning but their success was rather limited, to say the least.
I think Hedges would be well-advised to bring up a few more arguments, a few more causes, to make his point. Problems in or with society are rarely cuased by one, two or things things. They tend to be inextricably mingled and confused.


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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Illusion of Literacy
oblivion wrote:
I think Hedges would be well-advised to bring up a few more arguments, a few more causes, to make his point. Problems in or with society are rarely cuased by one, two or things things. They tend to be inextricably mingled and confused.

We never seem to be able to have the good without also having the bad. I wish it weren't so, but there seems no avoiding it. A society probably always declines as it advances, advances as it declines. It is very hard, probably impossible, to tell from a contemporary viewpoint which predominates. History passes judgment later on.

I agree with your earlier comment on the video games. There isn't much that I like less than such entertainment, but banning a particular product is likely to be futile or even counterproductive (creating a market for the illicit and forbidden). This would be like putting out a small fire while all around the forest still burns. The conditions that enabled the video games to be produced are what is significant; it's a mistake to see the games themselves as a cause.


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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Illusion of Literacy
I remember a history teacher in high school reading the class a passage that ran something like....

Tom's history teacher wrote:
Young people these days have no respect for their elders. They use impolite words and their behavior is crass. They should speak of their fathers with honor and their mothers with love, but instead they spew disrespect and filth everywhere. Government officials look the other way while thieves rob the people blind. No one will go out of his way to help his neighbor and an honest man must defend himself at every turn. What is the world coming to?


After we had discussed it for a few minutes, he revealed that it had been come from a Mesopotamian clay tablet from 3000 BCE or so. His point was that people have been complaining about society going to the dogs since the beginning of human civilization. Somehow we seem to keep muddling along.

Have you read anything by William Shakespeare or Geoffrey Chaucer lately? Folks in the Middle Ages were as bawdy and rowdy as they come and their bawdy poets now stand as our cultural icons. How's that for ironic? Medieval life could be extremely violent at times, on a personal level, much more so that anything any of us middle class folks in developed nations have to deal with. The games that evolved into American football, rugby, and soccer were essentially ruleless excuses to commit mayhem on the lads from the neighboring village. The most popular spectator sport of the time, tilting at the lists at tournaments, was a good way to get killed. Our current sports are violent, but not quite as violent as the medieval version in my estimation.

Chaucer's father (long before Geoffrey's birth) was kidnapped by relatives who tried to force him to marry a cousin to consolidate and preserve the family's fortune and real estate, then rescued through force of arms by another branch of the family. And this was a relatively wealthy, classy family! Try that in Peoria and see how far you get.

I think human nature and behavior are more or less as they have always been, sometimes a little better, sometimes not, but more or less fairly consistent. Language and culture never stops evolving, every few years we seem to have to have a war, and when people are confronted by new values and trends, perspectives and attitudes, they usually don't like it.

That's how it seems to me. :)


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Post Re: Ch. 1: The Illusion of Literacy
Certainly there was more violence and unwitting cruelty in the past. The Romans used to lead collections of wild animals into public forums for the only purpose of killing them in front of spectators. Come to think of it though, the Spanish still stage bullfights, to their shame and disgrace.

But I think it is not sufficient to lump in the Hedges book with the broad sweep of history. The assertions he makes are very relevant to us today, even if they have some similarities to the past. And in some ways the situation today is unique.

If one lived on a rural farm, and had never seen a person from another country, or had access to much in the way of reading or other forms of information, they could be somewhat forgiven for making foolish, shortsighted, or even mean-spirited decisions. But today, when one is a short Google away from most of what the human race knows and has experienced, and is still coming to the same narrow-minded conclusions, then that is something worth ruminating about.

This suggests to me not a lack of information, or education, or socialization, but a retreat from the intellect. Why this is so seems unclear, but Hedges makes a case that this is a real phenomenon.

Many of the ideas punted about in the highest strata of society today are ones that would likely appeal to that above mentioned farm hand from 1800. The salient point is that they have considerable appeal today. The political pronouncements from George Bush or Sarah Palin, for example, are crafted to appeal to the simplest souls. Yet both have found broad appeal. Why this occurs is an important question.


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BookTalk.org is a free book discussion group or online reading group or book club. We read and talk about both fiction and non-fiction books as a group. We host live author chats where booktalk members can interact with and interview authors. We give away free books to our members in book giveaway contests. Our booktalks are open to everybody who enjoys talking about books. Our book forums include book reviews, author interviews and book resources for readers and book lovers. Discussing books is our passion. We're a literature forum, or reading forum. Register a free book club account today! Suggest nonfiction and fiction books. Authors and publishers are welcome to advertise their books or ask for an author chat or author interview.


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BOOK FORUMS FOR ALL BOOKS WE HAVE DISCUSSED
Oliver Twist - by Charles DickensSense and Goodness Without God - by Richard CarrierFrankenstein - by Mary ShelleyThe Big Questions - by Simon BlackburnScience Was Born of Christianity - by Stacy TrasancosThe Happiness Hypothesis - by Jonathan HaidtA Game of Thrones - by George R. R. MartinTempesta's Dream - by Vincent LoCocoWhy Nations Fail - by Daron Acemoglu and James RobinsonThe Drowning Girl - Caitlin R. KiernanThe Consolations of the Forest - by Sylvain TessonThe Complete Heretic's Guide to Western Religion: The Mormons - by David FitzgeraldA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - by James JoyceThe Divine Comedy - by Dante AlighieriThe Magic of Reality - by Richard DawkinsDubliners - by James JoyceMy Name Is Red - by Orhan PamukThe World Until Yesterday - by Jared DiamondThe Man Who Was Thursday - by by G. K. ChestertonThe Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven PinkerLord Jim by Joseph ConradThe Hobbit by J. R. R. TolkienThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas AdamsAtlas Shrugged by Ayn RandThinking, Fast and Slow - by Daniel KahnemanThe Righteous Mind - by Jonathan HaidtWorld War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max BrooksMoby Dick: or, the Whale by Herman MelvilleA Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer EganLost Memory of Skin: A Novel by Russell BanksThe Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. KuhnHobbes: Leviathan by Thomas HobbesThe House of the Spirits - by Isabel AllendeArguably: Essays by Christopher HitchensThe Falls: A Novel (P.S.) by Joyce Carol OatesChrist in Egypt by D.M. MurdockThe Glass Bead Game: A Novel by Hermann HesseA Devil's Chaplain by Richard DawkinsThe Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph CampbellThe Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor DostoyevskyThe Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark TwainThe Moral Landscape by Sam HarrisThe Decameron by Giovanni BoccaccioThe Road by Cormac McCarthyThe Grand Design by Stephen HawkingThe Evolution of God by Robert WrightThe Tin Drum by Gunter GrassGood Omens by Neil GaimanPredictably Irrational by Dan ArielyThe Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel by Haruki MurakamiALONE: Orphaned on the Ocean by Richard Logan & Tere Duperrault FassbenderDon Quixote by Miguel De CervantesMusicophilia by Oliver SacksDiary of a Madman and Other Stories by Nikolai GogolThe Passion of the Western Mind by Richard TarnasThe Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le GuinThe Genius of the Beast by Howard BloomAlice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll Empire of Illusion by Chris HedgesThe Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner The Extended Phenotype by Richard DawkinsSmoke and Mirrors by Neil GaimanThe Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsWhen Good Thinking Goes Bad by Todd C. RinioloHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. DanielewskiAmerican Gods: A Novel by Neil GaimanPrimates and Philosophers by Frans de WaalThe Enormous Room by E.E. CummingsThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeGod Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher HitchensThe Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama Paradise Lost by John Milton Bad Money by Kevin PhillipsThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettGodless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists by Dan BarkerThe Things They Carried by Tim O'BrienThe Limits of Power by Andrew BacevichLolita by Vladimir NabokovOrlando by Virginia Woolf On Being Certain by Robert A. Burton50 reasons people give for believing in a god by Guy P. HarrisonWalden: Or, Life in the Woods by Henry David ThoreauExile and the Kingdom by Albert CamusOur Inner Ape by Frans de WaalYour Inner Fish by Neil ShubinNo Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthyThe Age of American Unreason by Susan JacobyTen Theories of Human Nature by Leslie Stevenson & David HabermanHeart of Darkness by Joseph ConradThe Stuff of Thought by Stephen PinkerA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniThe Lucifer Effect by Philip ZimbardoResponsibility and Judgment by Hannah ArendtInterventions by Noam ChomskyGodless in America by George A. RickerReligious Expression and the American Constitution by Franklyn S. HaimanDeep Economy by Phil McKibbenThe God Delusion by Richard DawkinsThe Third Chimpanzee by Jared DiamondThe Woman in the Dunes by Abe KoboEvolution vs. Creationism by Eugenie C. ScottThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanI, Claudius by Robert GravesBreaking The Spell by Daniel C. DennettA Peace to End All Peace by David FromkinThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe End of Faith by Sam HarrisEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonValue and Virtue in a Godless Universe by Erik J. WielenbergThe March by E. L DoctorowThe Ethical Brain by Michael GazzanigaFreethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan JacobyCollapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared DiamondThe Battle for God by Karen ArmstrongThe Future of Life by Edward O. WilsonWhat is Good? by A. C. GraylingCivilization and Its Enemies by Lee HarrisPale Blue Dot by Carl SaganHow We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God by Michael ShermerLooking for Spinoza by Antonio DamasioLies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al FrankenThe Red Queen by Matt RidleyThe Blank Slate by Stephen PinkerUnweaving the Rainbow by Richard DawkinsAtheism: A Reader edited by S.T. JoshiGlobal Brain by Howard BloomThe Lucifer Principle by Howard BloomGuns, Germs and Steel by Jared DiamondThe Demon-Haunted World by Carl SaganBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownFuture Shock by Alvin Toffler

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