by Jim Nintzel
MOCA Tucson's book-club series, Fear & Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’12: Arts, Politics, Media, will be meeting tonight to discuss Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas.
And I'll be there to moderate the discussion.
Hank Stephenson talked to Anne-Marie Russell about the book club for TW a few weeks ago:
And the next book?
(What's the Matter With Kansas?) is really about the aesthetic of demographics, and how life becomes lifestyle in the science of polling and demographics—how people get identified as soccer moms or XYZ, and how life turns into lifestyle and gets marketed as lifestyle. It's very much an aesthetic issue in terms of ... identifying and categorizing people's ideas about who they are. We all have the shorthand of the Volvo-driving, latte-drinking liberal elite, or whatever sort of visual image you get from the things that you consume or the activities that we pursue—that's sort of a visual composite of a type of person. The science of polling has become so sophisticated, and all of our consumer habits and Internet trolling habits are tracked, and we have so much more massive amounts of data that put people in different microgroups based on their habits that then get articulated in visual form.
How will the night play out?
You know how book clubs go. There's wine and beer; I always say they're wine clubs with a few discussions of books. But we had really, really wonderful conversations and discussions with the two that we've already had. It's been really inspiring and fun and has given us a sense that citizens are keen to get together in public spaces and discuss these sorts of things ... and (like) having a place to discuss how we've been responding to and interacting with (campaign materials and) really deconstructing how these symbols are being put together to tell various stories—and how we all feel about that. So it has been a really productive and rich and interesting set of conversations, and I'm really excited that (Jim) Nintzel is going to be moderating the next two meetings.
Sure, most left-leaning political junkies will want to watch Obama tonight, but the book club meets at 5:30 and we'll go for about an hour, which should give you plenty of time to get home to see the president's big speech. Come on by for some beer and wine. Details here.