Book Review: Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How by Ted Kaczynski

Anti Tech

Yes. That Ted Kaczynski.

From Wikipedia:

Theodore John Kaczynski (born May 22, 1942), also known as the Unabomber, is an American mathematician, anarchist and domestic terrorist. A mathematical prodigy, he abandoned a promising academic career in 1969, then between 1978 and 1995 killed 3 people, and injured 23 others, in a nationwide mail bombing campaign that targeted people involved with modern technology. In conjunction with the bombing campaign, he issued a wide-ranging social critique opposing industrialization and advancing a nature-centered form of anarchism…

In 1971, he moved to a remote cabin without electricity or running water in Lincoln, Montana, where he lived as a recluse while learning survival skills in an attempt to become self-sufficient. In 1978, after witnessing the destruction of the wild land surrounding his cabin, he concluded that living in nature was untenable and began his bombing campaign. In 1995, Kaczynski sent a letter to The New York Times and promised to “desist from terrorism” if the Times or The Washington Post published his manifesto, Industrial Society and Its Future, in which he argued that his bombings were extreme but necessary to attract attention to the erosion of human freedom and dignity by modern technologies requiring large-scale organization…

Kaczynski was the target of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) longest and costliest investigation. Before his identity was known, the FBI used the title “UNABOM” (UNiversity & Airline BOMber) to refer to his case, which resulted in the media calling him the Unabomber. The FBI (as well as Attorney General Janet Reno) pushed for the publication of Kaczynski’s manifesto, which led to his sister-in-law, and then his brother, recognizing Kaczynski’s style of writing and beliefs from the manifesto, and tipping off the FBI. After his arrest in 1996, Kaczynski tried unsuccessfully to dismiss his court-appointed lawyers because they wanted to plead insanity in order to avoid the death penalty, as Kaczynski did not believe he was insane. On January 22, 1998, when it became clear that his trial would entail national television exposure, the court entered a plea agreement, under which Kaczynski pleaded guilty to all charges and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole at ADX Florence, where he remains as of 2017.

I was contacted by the publishers of Ted Kaczynski’s latest treatise Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How after writing a short but positive review of the original 1995 manifesto Industrial Society and Its Future on the website Goodreads. They offered me a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Naturally, I was eager to take up their offer.

Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How is an astonishing and, in my opinion, important attempt at analysing and outlining the root causes of modern society’s ills and the potential end result of where advances in technology may take us. A work like Anti-Tech Revolution is not easily reviewed. Since this is not a work of literature it cannot be reviewed based on its narrative flow and style. We must examine ourselves before approaching a political manifesto. Fundamentally, how positive one receives the message contained within Anti-Tech Revolution will very much depend on one’s own pre-existing values and opinions. Kaczynski does an excellent job in outlining what he sees as the situation of our current malaise, but admits himself that certain audiences are more receptive to certain ideas than others and it is a wasteful use of time to try to convince an audience that will never accept the book’s basic premise. It is no use handing a copy of Marx’s Communist Manifesto to a confirmed Libertarian and expecting an overnight conversion to Socialism. So it is with Anti-Tech Revolution. How much you will agree with Kaczynski’s conclusions is most probably already determined before you even open the book.

It is also an unescapable truth that an audience cannot separate the author from the work, no matter how predisposed they may be to his views. The fact of the matter is that Ted Kaczynski did carry out a campaign of domestic terrorism that injured 23 people and killed 3 others. It is also a fact that Ted Kaczynski pleaded guilty and is currently serving eight life sentences without the possibility of parole. Is it moral to review a book written by such a person? How you answer that question will very much depend on your own pre-existing sympathies and value system.

I do not normally discuss politics on either this blog or on my related social media feeds. Regular readers will know that apart from the occasional book review I normally confine myself to satire and parody. However, in the interests of disclosure, I will state that I am not unsympathetic to the views of Ted Kaczynski and we both share similar views on phenomena like globalisation, centralisation, bureaucracy, technology and “leftism” (as Kaczynski described his view of the origins and psychology behind mainstream liberal thought in his original Industrial Society and Its Future). That statement alone will also automatically inform any reader on how much their own view of Anti-Tech Revolution might or might not align with mine.

My first thought on reading Anti-Tech Revolution was it quickly becomes apparent that the author’s current incarceration has quite the influence on the sources gathered by Kaczynski to outline his point of view. Jailed and presumably severely limited in access to the internet, Kaczynski’s sources largely come from whatever resources he has access to in his prison library (the Encyclopaedia Britannica is referenced frequently) and assistance he has obtained from his large number of outside correspondents. This has a profound influence over the book’s structure in both positive and negative ways. Millennials may not realise that scholarly books were once written without the aid of the internet and that it was once frequent to quote books from five, fifty, one hundred and even two thousand years ago. This reliance on older sources is quite refreshing to the modern reader and gives the book a wandering style not dissimilar to that of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s when the author makes frequent detours into classical or medieval philosophy and history. It also emphasises that many of the arguments and fears covered by Kaczynski are not confined to our digital age: the consequences of rapid technological progress have been known since ancient times. However, it is admittedly a weakness of a book that discusses technology to be so outdated on recent trends in technology itself (though it does reinforce the argument that technological progress is accelerating faster and faster). The smartphone revolution has passed Kaczynski by while he has been confined to a prison cell; likewise other recent advances are conspicuously absent.

As the title suggests, Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How is neatly divided into the “why” and “how” of Kaczynski’s worldview. The book is divided into the following four chapters, with several appendices included at the end:

Part One: The Development of a Society Can Never Be Subject to Rational Human Control

Part Two: Why the Technological System Will Destroy Itself

Part Three: How to Transform a Society: Errors to Avoid

Part Four: Strategic Guidelines for an Anti-Tech Movement

Parts One and Two cover the “why” of what Kaczynski perceives as the reasons for modern society’s problems and why it needs to be destroyed. Parts Three and Four get into detail on “how” to do so. Here I shall outline each section in more detail.

The first part – The Development of a Society Can Never Be Subject to Rational Human Control – is the book’s most accessible. The reader doesn’t have to subscribe to the author’s anti-tech views to understand and agree with the arguments contained within. This is a very rational argument, but one that does need constant emphasising as its lesson does seem to be forgotten again and again by socialists, fascists, utopians, bureaucrats and all others who keep repeating the same mistake. No society can be controlled 100% by a central authority, and no central authority can forecast with 100% accuracy the direction the future will take. The development of human society, because it is composed of those strange irrational creatures called humans, can never be forced to completely follow a model concocted by some central planning theorist. Again, there are many echoes of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s works on randomness and probability – more than once I wondered if Taleb was aware of Kaczynski’s writing.

Initially, it seems strange for a book dedicated to technology to devote its first section to the fallacies of economists and political theorists, but the logic soon becomes clear. Kaczynski is providing background on the human forces that have given rise to our growing use and dependence on technology. On the one hand we have competing groups throughout history who use technology to gain short-term advantages over their rivals in the eternal scramble for access to resources without consideration to the long-term consequences (though Kaczynski makes the excellent point that this is inescapable: any group that thinks too long-term will inevitably be wiped out by their more short-term thinking neighbours. A good argument as to why China’s current relentless growth may succeed but doom us all in the process). On the other hand, we have central planners who advance technology in an attempt to further control society and make accurate predictions to its future. Kaczynski argues that this is impossible. To even predict with total accuracy what would happen across the entire world in just the next sixty minutes would require an impossible amount of calculations.

We then move onto Part Two: Why the Technological System Will Destroy Itself. This section will be more familiar to readers of Kaczynski’s original manifesto and follows similar themes of self-propagating systems, accelerationism and environmental destruction. Great detail is given in this section – much more detail than can be covered in a mere review – but suffice to say, Kaczynski does not share the same views of people like Ray Kurzweil and other technologists who believe we are heading for a post-Singularity utopia where an all-knowing Artificial Intelligence will advance eternally and transform us into digital immortals. No. Though Kaczynski is unable and unwilling to give a timeline, his very forceful argument is that technology can only continue to accelerate, and we are accelerating to our inevitable ruin. The global spread of the technological system over our now tightly interconnected world means such ruin will also be global (perhaps little pockets like Bhutan may survive; Bhutan incidentally resembling probably the closest real-life example of how Kaczynski views a more sustainable society).

Anti-Tech Revolution doesn’t delve into how technology and “leftism” progress forward together as the original manifesto Industrial Society and Its Future did, but the undertone is there. Shanghai-based accelerationist Nick Land has repeatedly alluded to the metaphor of an increasingly inter-connected, tech-dominated, left-leaning world that has slowly but unstoppably grown through the course of history as something akin to an out-of-control Lovecraftian monster (although Land appears to want the monster to succeed). Fellow neo-reactionary Mencius Moldbug has also coined the succinct epitaph: “Chthulhu may swim slowly, but he always swims left.

The question is: if the technological system is fated to inevitably destroy itself (and us with it), why does Kaczynski wish to bring about its destruction and why bother writing a manifesto explaining how to do so? His argument is simple. It is better to destroy the system now rather than later. Destruction of the world’s technology would be devastating and involve death for a large percentage of the global population, but it will be nothing compared to the total destruction that awaits us when technology is even more advanced and our resources even more depleted.

With that argument, Kaczynski launches into the “how” of his revolution. Parts Three and Four discuss a strategy to create an anti-tech movement and outlines the errors to avoid. Anybody who has ever read Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals will know what to expect in these two sections; Kaczynski himself acknowledges his debt to this book, though he shares zero common ground with Alinsky’s objectives. Many references are made to historical revolutions (the Bolsheviks, Mao, Irish nationalists)  and a few short-term and long-term strategies are presented as possible options for anyone who seriously wishes to take Kaczynski’s argument to their logical end. Like the chapter on human irrationality, a reader doesn’t have to share Kaczynski’s worldview to appreciate the detail and thoroughness of his arguments. Incarceration has obviously given the Unabomber time to consider every angle possible, and the steps on how to organise a community are food-for-thought for daily life, not just when organising the downfall of technological civilisation.

Inevitably, the “how” of the book is weaker than the “why” since the “how” is more conjecture than arguments based on empirical evidence. There are a small number of times when it also seems to descend into something akin to Live Action Role Playing, but these few and far between.

Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How was probably one of the most thought-provoking books I have read in the last ten years. It was the first time since university that I actually read through a book with a pen and paper to take notes. There are a handful of books that after reading them have left a deep and lasting imprint on my mind and political outlook – Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilisations, Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, Taleb’s Antifragility – and Anti-Tech Revolution will join them on that list. This isn’t the work of a psychotic nutjob: all of Kaczynski’s arguments are backed up with empirical evidence and his writing is both intelligent and highly logical. I can see the truth of what Kaczynski is trying to tell us, though I am personally unable to follow the logic all the way to its conclusion. Who exactly is going to carry out his anti-tech revolution and bring down everything modern society is based upon? Certainly not me. I will be the first to admit that if anybody succeeded in enacting Kaczynski’s grand plan than myself and my family will be amongst the first to be wiped out. Rootless, atomised within urban society, unable to survive without the accoutrements of modern technology and lacking the support network of someone in a more traditional way of life: I and everybody I hold dear would be dead within weeks of a large-scale takedown of the internet, an electromagnetic pulse, blowing up our energy sources or any of the other possibilities that Kaczynski outlines. That’s if the destruction of the technological system didn’t cause a nuclear meltdown or war that wiped me out first. I may be sympathetic to the views of Ted Kaczynski, but I have too much skin in the game to wish to see his vision succeed. Despite this, I agree with his conclusions on where we are heading – and it terrifies me. Culture wars and skirmishes between the alt-left and conservatives are just mere paraphernalia to what is really going on.

Anti-Tech Revolution: Why and How by Theodore John Kaczynski is published by Fitch & Madison and available on Amazon. Ted Kaczynski does not receive any remuneration from the sales of the book.

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If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.

 

 

A Handy Guide to Commonly Used Tinder Abbreviations By Expat Women In Asia

elly
Are you man enough to date me, loser?

Since Reddit user u/pomegranate2012 enlightened me that DTF in Fempat-ese actually means Din Tai Fung, I’ve now come to the shocking realisation that none of the abbreviations I’ve seen fempats use actually mean what I thought they meant.

After consulting with a “dating expert” who specialises in cross-cultural relationships and had worked for the Global Times for a whole 3 days before relocating to Thailand, I am now privileged to share with you the true meanings behind the secret fempat codewords they use on Tinder / Craigslist / Scrawled in pumpkin spice on the back of a Starbucks napkin.

If you are aware of anymore, please share.

ASL? : Any Spiced Lattes?

BJ : Burger Joint

BBBJ : Big Brand Burger Joint

BI : Will drink baijiu

BDSM : Bring Dumplings Stupid Man

BBW : Average fempat weight

DF : Diet Free

DDF : Diet and Diabetes Free

DTF : Din Tai Fung / Dumplings Taste Fabulous

DOB : Days Outside Beijing

FWB : Friends With Baozi

GSOH : Good at Sucking Off Hapas

JBY : Just Be Yuge

LDR : Like a Dumpy Rainy

LGBT : Let’s Go Buy Tacos

LTR : Lifetime Risk

MBA : Married But Asianwomanstolemyhusband

MWC : Made to Work in China

NBM : Never Bought Mons

NSA : No Schoolteachers Allowed

NSSA : No Sex Since America

STR8 : Stroke Tim’s Rigid ji8

SWS : Sex Within Shanghai

TDH : Tall Dark and Hei

TEFL : Take me Element Fresh for Lunch

TLC : Tim Loving Cumslut

W4M : Woman for Mutumbo

W4W : Woman for Workvisa

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If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.

Book Review: American Rococo by Isham Cook

AmericanRococo

 

The works of Isham Cook will be familiar to regular readers of this blog. Isham, by his own account, appears to be an American former-academic now based in China whose range of interests cover everything from massage, coffee and the old canal system of Beijing. I described his collection of short stories The Exact Unknown as “a voice outside the stereotypes” and one of the rare works on China written with “such truth, wit and honesty”. After reading his short stories, I went on to read his other works that I also reviewed for the viewing public. My favourite remains At The Teahouse Cafe: a wonderful collection of thoughts and ruminations on all things China with an insight that could only come from somebody who has been in the country for over two decades. Massage and the Writer took the same idea of having a compilation of related essays, but took the theme of massage rather than China. Again I found it to be insightful, thought-provoking and smoothly written. Finally, I found Isham’s experimental novel Lust and Philosophy to be challenging and intellectually stimulating, though I appear to be more in the minority in that view. Other reviews on Amazon described it as “rape literature” with one reviewer – Lloyd Lofthouse – even claiming “it is obvious that Isham is mentally damaged”.

So it was with great anticipation that I cracked open Isham’s latest work: American Rococo. Like At The Teahouse Cafe this is a collection of essays that have previously been featured on Isham’s blog, but this time he directs his observant eye to American society rather than China’s. Well, at least that is what I was expecting from the book’s title and the first few chapters. The name American Rococo conjured up images of a series of cutting essays on the current situation and trends within the United States – an occidental companion to his China-focused At The Teahouse Cafe. A 21st century equivalent of Dickens’ American Notes. Instead, American Rococo seems to have no overarching theme other than Isham’s own personal interests which is perhaps the greatest weakness of the book. Much more so than his previous work, your mileage will vary considerably depending on how interesting you find the topics that Isham decides to cover.

And what a range a topics there are! The erudite Mr Cook seems to have an encyclopaedic knowledge on religion, Japanese theatre, Elizabethan chamber music and the roots of the English language. When my interests coincided with the author’s I raced through the pages eager to understand his conclusions and memorise any tidbits of information that had previously escaped me. His descriptions of life in South London during Shakespeare’s time were engrossing and I caught myself nodding along to his literary theories on Kafka. In fact, I will be forever mindful of American Rococo for introducing me to the idea that Kafka’s unfinished novels are better novels for the precise fact that they are unfinished. The idea of an unfinished novel that strays outside the narrative and never reaches its final destination had never occured to me as a perfect vehicle for the themes of helplessness and oppressive bureaucracy that Kafka obsesses over.

There is nothing wrong with a series of unrelated essays. As the author highlighted in his correspondence with me, the idea of centering a book of essays around a theme is a fairly recent phenomenon in contemporary publishing. Essays by Montaigne, Bacon, Emerson and others were never thematically unified. The same holds true with fiction. One of my most treasured books is a collection of all of Arthur Conan Doyle’s non-Sherlock short stories. The stories range from tales of colonial derring-do, proto-science fiction, medicine and that dreadful time when Conan Doyle began dabbling in Spiritualism. The whole point is the style, the quality of the writing, and if the essays maintain a singular world view.

However, I am only human – and I’m sure that most of the other readers of American Rococo are too. Quite simply, there were several chapters where I just did not share the same interest as the author. The articles that interested me will be completely different to those that may interest any other reader, but it is inevitable with a myriad of topics that each individual will find their own hits and misses. I had to skim-read through the (to me) long, dry and boring essays on the intricacies of lute craftsmanship in the Middle Ages or rather scholarly paragraphs on clause differences between old English and Danish that should remain in the debating halls of a university English Language department. There is also a tendency within the author to slip occasionally into the dry style of academic writing. It is obvious that Isham – self-publishing under his own Magic Theatre label and not beholden to the whims of big media – writes primarily for himself rather than for a defined audience. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this as genius stems from the individual rather than committee, but it does mean that appreciation of his writing depends greatly on your own interest in his chosen topics.

Review over? Is that all? Well, if American Rococo was just a collection of essays on music and literature, I would probably draw the review to a conclusion right now. Yet amidst the ink spilled on Philip Glass and Beowulf, there are other essays which are more focused on Isham’s personal philosophy rather than dissections of music and literature. It is these essays that provoked my strongest reactions to the book, and not always in a positive way.

A picture forms of Isham Cook after reading even just two or three sentences from any of his books. Libertine, sexually open, promiscuous, obsessive… in fact the author himself did a decent job of outlining some of these qualities in his semi-autobiographical novel Lust and Philosophy. Isham regularly recounts his joy in delving into the fleshy pleasures of life. He delights in the excessive, the sensuous and the extravagant. The title of the book American Rococo takes its name from the titular essay where Isham expands on his love of American excessiveness. To him, the rolling curves of the obese are beautiful, not disgusting. The inflated gibberish of street graffiti eye-catching rather than an eye-sore. Isham is a true child of his generation. In several chapters he promotes the wonders and delights of drug use and free love. His embrace of free love, wild extravagance, LSD trips and happy communal living seems firmly rooted in the 1960s and 70s which is when I presume Isham went through his formative years.

This utopian vision is repeated time and time again with an evangelical fervour worthy of the Christians and modern Atheists that he dissects in his chapter on modern atheism. To the libertine author, it is not enough that atheists have discarded traditional conservative beliefs when they still cling to “outdated” concepts like monogamy. To Isham, monogamy is a religion that in his position of Prophet must be destroyed and replaced with free love if we are ever to move forward as a species.

I use the word “Prophet” deliberately. I’m an advocate of Fourth Turning theory and when reading American Rococo found it very much to fit within the thinking of what The Fourth Turning described as a “Prophet” mentality. To those unfamiliar with The Fourth Turning, it was a landmark work written in the late 1990s by William Strauss and Neil Howe where they linked historical change to generational change that repeats itself in a never-ending cycle. Within their theory, certain time periods correspond almost to the seasons of the year: typically history is a cycle of Crisis (war, famine, revolution), a “High” (the post-war peace when society operates on shared principals and vision), Awakening (when a younger generation who are unaware of the horrors of war begin to rebel against the conformity of a peaceful but uniform society), Unravelling (when society begins to break down, institutions are attacked and become weak, individualism is strong) and back to Crisis. The mood and values of the generations born within those different times correspond accordingly.

With his mantra of free love and LSD for all, Isham epitomises the “Prophet” mindset of those born within the “awakening” time of the 60s and 70s. The Prophet sees it upon themselves to destroy the old establishment and create a new society based on new values. You can see this in the mentality of most baby boomers and their unparalleled success of completely transforming society in their image over the last sixty or so years. In his final essay – Advanced Love – Isham describes how he has stood at the front of the classroom in the image of the Prophet exhorting his students to embrace polyamory and communal living as his so-called most “advanced” form of love. Reading this part I wondered if Isham realised he came across just as evangelical as those Christian teachers who arrive in China and try to surreptitiously convert their students over to Jesus by sprinkling Bible quotes into their lesson plan.

I agree with a lot of what Isham Cook has to say. I also enjoy freedom and liberty and actually agree with almost all of his conclusions on the progression of society… it is the results that I disagree with. As a member of a younger generation than Isham’s, I have seen the end destination of many of his utopian beliefs. For his “American Rococo”, generations afterwards must suffer an “American Hangover”. After the Prophets have completed their great task of destroying the old, there is nothing left for the following generation but to wander through the ruins like nomads.

During the writing of this review, I exchanged some emails with Isham about his views on polyamory. In one email he writes:

[On polyamory]… this word is not to be confused with polygamy, polygyny or polyandry. I have no interest in traditional polygyny, still practiced by some Mormons in the US, in parts of Africa and the Middle East, etc. — the keeping of more than one wife, not always with their full consent. That’s a kind of slavery and is deplorable and sexist. Polyamory is simply the freedom to let people choose how they wish to organize a family and under what terms. This could be triads (2 males/1 female or 2 females/1 male), dual couples, or group or communal families. Children could be raised in common or raised exclusively by their biological parents. Sexual sharing may be allowed or not. There are no top-down rules. Each family unit decides their own rules and what kind of relationships they are willing to entertain with others. Ideally, there is no oppression, coercion, brainwashing or cult-like behavior.

I’m actually familiar with polyamory and aware of the distinctions between polyamory, polygamy and polyandry. However, I do not share Isham’s rosy view of its benefits. In my opinion, polyamory cannot and does not work in practice because of basic human nature. Both genders are naturally promiscuous but in different ways. Whereas a male will wish to copulate with as many different females as possible (since sperm is plentiful in comparison to eggs), females are more likely to gravitate towards the higher status males, even if that means sharing access and child paternity with the alpha male with other women in a kind of quasi concubinage. This is called hypergamy, and there are very good biological reasons why it exists. If you were a cavewoman in more primitive times it made sense to bear the children of the male with access to the most resources. One astonishing statistic is that before the dawn of civilisation, seventeen women reproduced for every one man.

Hence, it is my belief that the nature of hypergamy means that the ideal of polyamory will always devolve into the more nightmarish reality of polygamy. Isham writes (emphasis mine): “Ideally, there is no oppression, coercion, brainwashing or cult-like behaviour.” For me, that is the killer. The ideal may be freedom, but look at any social circle, structure, organisation or company that you have encountered in real life. The inevitable result is always hierarchy and power plays. If the group is lucky it just dissolves when the members gradually exit, if not the end result is normally conflict.

Destroying traditional family structures doesn’t result in a hippy communal paradise; it results in atomised and rootless individuals and a society drowning in anomie (the same atomised individuals that Isham describes in his essay on Airbnb hosts). Taking responsibility from biological parents for their children’s’ upbringing doesn’t result in everybody helping each other out at the top of Plato’s ladder of love; it results in broken homes and state intervention. Isham argues for a polyamorous society; my rebuttal would be to look at polyamorous societies throughout history and really see how successful they are. They went extinct. I can agree that monogamy is a kind of religion and a kind of female enslavement, but it’s equally a kind of male enslavement. It’s the promise of a wife to call one’s own and the chance to spread one’s genes into the next generation that is the basis of all true civilisation. Polyamory does not end in a loving free-for-all; female hypergamy ensures that it results in a small number of alpha males with large concubines and armies of disenfranchised men underneath. That’s not utopia, that’s a slave society. At times I wondered how much Isham really understands about the nature of women, despite the considerable amount of time he devotes to them. To put it in even blunter and cruder terms, there was more than one moment when I wanted to throw the book into the bin and I caught myself muttering “it was people like you who fucked up the world.”

(Note: if any reader wishes to read something which also discusses polyamory but comes to similar negative conclusions as the ones I have raised here, I would recommend any of Michel Houellebecq’s books)

If the preceding paragraph sounds angry and disdainful – you’re right. I did experience those feelings constantly throughout the essays where Isham expands on his utopian vision. However, let’s not let my opposition to Isham’s views colour a potential reader’s opinion of American Rococo. There is much to like here and I would still recommend it to anybody interested in good writing and intellectual debate. Just look at the passion it has invoked in me while writing the above paragraphs. As I noted in one of my previous reviews of Isham’s books, the role of a true teacher is to provoke reactions within his students and guide them into thoughts and viewpoints that they may not have considered before. In this, Isham succeeds once again. The two or three essays discussing his polyamorist ideal have probably given me more to ponder than anything else I’ve read this year.

So, go and read American Rococo. You’ll learn a few things that you didn’t know before on a wide range of topics that may even engage a new found passion within you. It will also challenge your notions of freedom and independence. I disagreed with nearly everything Isham had to say, but I had a great time doing so. Unlimited freedom has consequences. Unlimited freedom has a price. In the case of American Rococo, that price is about $10 if you buy direct from Amazon.

Isham Cook blogs at http://www.ishamcook.com and American Rococo is available on Amazon.

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If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.