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Feeling bored?Fragmented to smithereens by (a)social media and technology? Starved for existential meaning? Well, I might just have the antidote for you, stressing the "anti" in (at least) two ways: Antti Balk's massive tome Balderdash: A Treatise On Ethics is the anti-thesis of the contemporary fatigue that drains us all.
With an impressive page count of 560 pages, the book is a veritable onslaught about the signs of the bizarre times we live in - and there are many. However, let me make it clear that this is not essentially a cynical or bitter tirade against human folly. That would be too easy. Too easy for Antti Balk, anyway. His work is so meticulous and para-academic that you feel engulfed by argumentative intelligence instead of tsunamied away by emotionally reactive spurts.
If this is a treatise on ethics, it is decidedly a shocking one. Never before have so many examples of single-minded and double-spoken human hypocrisies been so eloquently amassed. In chapter after chapter, Balk spills corrugated beans about how things really are. Or, rather, how they're not what they're claimed to be in public discourse and "civilized" meta-language.
Food, war, disaster, politics, science, religion, education, behaviour, sexuality, climate change, the history of progress (and regress) are but some of the topics included. Although divided by more or less thematic chapters and augmented by no less than 1591 footnotes (!) and a selected (!) references section of 30 pages (!), Balk's book is basically one single flow of intense clarification.
The tone is humorous but never in a way that undermines the degree of poignancy. As a result, Balk suavely joins the ranks of classic, critical minds (iconoclasts like Gore Vidal, Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken spring to mind).Read more ›
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