June 26, 2016

No, You're Wrong: On Chuck Klosterman's "But What If We're Wrong?"


At this point, I must have read everything in book form that Klosterman has put out in book form.
I got turned onto him when I was in college, and my buddies gave me a book, and Klosterman was like the cool older brother you never had, throwing together essays that made you think and made you want to be the kind of guy Klosterman was. Except maybe not as ginger.

He’s grown up and I with him.  I followed him through his novels – even though I forgot that I had read one of them until I was looking at the list of books in the front of this book and I was like, “Yeah, I read that”.  I’ve now read two of the latest books, the one about bad guys and now this one. The current thing Chuck is doing is taking a whole conceit and stretching it out to a book length. I’m not sure if it works for a whole book. What made Klosterman’s earlier essays work was that the idea wasn’t worn out in the essay; it was the jumping off point for the kind of dorm room chatter that passes for male bonding. “But What if We’re Wrong” jumps off from a point to try to imagine what the current world will look like to the future. It’s one of those things that sound simple but has profound implications but it never really comes up. It’s because as a culture we are certain of ourselves; we always have been certain of ourselves. One of my favorite things in a book is when a character talks about the modern world, and then I recognize that that world is much less in advance than mine – so the idea that characters who uses horses for locomotion is risible. We are in a constant state of change, and what we have for comparison is the past, so there is a constant and ever-changing modernity that focuses on one day only. Today. Therefore, I think this works as a thought experiment, but the funny thing is that the book is almost certain to be 99% wrong. Most books are, but this one is just more conscious of the fact.