I can’t help but enjoy Politics and Prose. It seems like it would annoy me as an obvious yuppie haven of self-satisfaction. But maybe, deep down, I AM that self-satisfied yuppie. Maybe a hippie-yuppie.
But every time I go, I have the feeling that I’ve stepped out of “ordinary life” (in which people ask one incessently about spreadsheets and stakeholders and lost email attachments) and into “real life.” This real life is filled with ideas (i-DEE-ahh-s) that expand and multiply as they swirl around at the top of the ceiling. Oh, do you enjoy Lost Generation writers? Then you might like our collection of books concerning Hemingway or Fitzgerald (or both). The movie Kickass make you not regret spending $10 on admission? Crack open our original graphic novel. Oh, you didn’t know it was a graphic novel? Thank goodness you came when you did.
In addition to the choice and taste brimming out of the place, Politics and Prose is able to offer book readings by some pretty up-there authors. Yesterday I saw Nicholas Carr read from his book, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. If I weren’t taking it with a grain of salt, I would have been very concerned for myself and for all of us. Carr warns that the ability to multitask (which gets stronger with each toggle back and forth between Facebook and work and email) is making us less productive, not more. But this grain (oh, what would I do without that grain of salt?) makes me say “nah, in fact, I don’t see this as ‘a Silent Spring’ for the literary mind.'”
Carr warns that the Internet is making us stupider, or at least weakening our ability to pay attention. I liked the ideas he raised about measuring what we know and how we know it. For instance, time. Time is just something we know exists. But invent the clock, and time is transformed into tiny, measureable units. Or maps: before maps, what we knew about our surroundings was what we could see. Now, it is possible to trace property lines, exploration routes, and the quickest way to the nearest Wendy’s for a frosty. Don’t we all love frostys?! So yeah, give me the Internet, Nicholas Carr. The Internet and a frosty.
For more book readings, see the P&P schedule. They also have book clubs, if you’re into that kind of thing. You want to hang out with other smart people, right?