I truly enjoyed “The Anthropocene Reviewed”. Despite its minor flaws on being too centered on the American (life) experience, rather than trying to see the anthropocene and its artefacts through more universal lenses, John Green has managed to write something quite pleasant to read that is light, but rather witty and thought-provoking at the same time. We are provided with many a tiny nugget of “aha” moments; take, for example, the following good point he makes about the ways “The Great Gatsby” can be differently interpreted:
“And so in bad times, “Gatsby” feels like a condemnation of the American idea, and in good times it feels like a celebration of that same idea. David Denby has written that the book has “become a kind of national scripture, recited happily or mournfully, as the occasion requires.””
The book is full of surprisingly (for someone who writes young adult novels) great quotes, especially about hope and love. I will share some of my favourite ones with you below:
“What you’re looking at matters, but not as much as how you’re looking or who you’re looking with.”
“hope is the correct response to the strange, often terrifying miracle of consciousness. Hope is not easy or cheap. It is true. As Emily Dickinson put it, “Hope” is the thing with feathers / That perches in the soul / And sings the tune without the words / And never stops at all””
“You can’t see the future coming not the terrors, for sure, but you also can’t see the wonders that are coming, the moments of light-soaked joy that await each of us.”
“These communities hunted and gathered, and there were no large caloric surpluses, so every healthy person would have had to contribute to the acquisition of food and water and yet somehow, they still made time to create art, almost as if art isn’t optional for humans.”
“We all know how loving ends. But I want to fall in love with the world anyway, to let it crack me open. I want to feel what there is to feel while I am here.”
However, what bothered and prompted to to write this small opinion piece is Green’s very simplistic and predictable world-view. The author subscribes (fully) to the liber-progressive mindset, with all the dangers and problems that creates. This first non-fiction work of his reads, in many parts, like it was trying to please the censors of the new politically correct thought police. It is even worse if, as I suspect is the case, he actually believes in what he says rather than simply trying to pose as an “ally” and avoid being cancelled. He insists upon many things I find damaging. Consider the following:
“But if I don’t grapple with the reality that I owe much of my success to injustice, I’ll only further the hoarding of wealth and opportunity. Some might argue that games should reward talent and skill and hard work precisely because real life doesn’t”.
This phenomenon is so pervasive now in mainstream media and pop-culture that I had to struggle and find a name for it and, although others no doubt might have done it better, I settled on “woke guilt”. I heartily recommend Douglas Murray’s fantastic books “The Strange Death of Europe” and “The Madness of Crowds” for a more in-depth analysis of what is happening, but the main idea, in an over-simplification for the sake of brevity, goes as follows: the progressive liberal world-view has created a framework of thinking from expanding traditional marxism. History is not just the struggle between purely economic classes, but a struggle between oppressors and oppressed on many different other levels: racial, sexual, ethnic, etc. This has allowed for the ease of incorporation of many other “identity politics”songs that could be sung in this key. Thus, radical feminism focuses on how men have oppressed women, post-colonialism talks about how the European empires have oppressed indigenous people, sexual minorities talk about how straight, heteronormative people oppress them and so on ad infinitum et ad nauseam. The common thread between all the components of this framework is how easily it can point to Western civilization and its values as the root of all evil, but that ought to be the topic of a separate discussion.
Within this new secular dogma of identity politics, the hottest trend right now is to talk about privilege. People that succeed in achieving anything in life have done so because they benefitted from the privilege of generations of accumulated wealth made on the backs of slaves, the privilege of being white, of being born with certain genitalia and so on. This is precisely why the contemporary conservative movement has been so focused on talking about the individual and responsibility. Where the left sees avatars of various oppressed groups and childishly points blame outwards, the right tries to go back to the much more healthy mindset of the sovereignty of the individual. Gratitude for what has been given to you undeservedly by circumstances is one thing. In the pre-modern world, people understood that life was not fair and people are not equal. The Western answer to the struggle that all that entails is that the individual was responsible to do all that he could to better his circumstances with what he was given in the present. Lamenting centuries of past injustice was not going to help anyone, especially since its actors and their world was long dead. In the present world, in order to abide by the thought police of ‘woke-ism’, anyone who cannot claim membership to any minority of any kind has to be ridden by guilt. Even though no responsibility for any injustice can be placed upon their shoulders. And this is exactly the type of brainwashing that John Green has suffered.
Remember kids: no one who is a slave to ideology is a true intellectual.