New book of Susan Jacoby


PATRICIA COHEN “Dumb and Dumber: Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge?”

Susan Jacobyという人のThe Age of American Unreasonという新刊の紹介。米国における”a generalized hostility to knowledge”を論じる。リベラルでも保守でもなく”cultural conservationist“を自認する彼女によれば、”anti-intellectualism (the attitude that “too much learning can be a dangerous thing”) and anti-rationalism (“the idea that there is no such things as evidence or fact, just opinion”) have fused in a particularly insidious way.”なのだと。或いは”Not only are citizens ignorant about essential scientific, civic and cultural knowledge, she said, but they also don’t think it matters.” 彼女がこの本を書こうとした動機というのがかなり笑ってしまう;

She pointed to a 2006 National Geographic poll that found nearly half of 18- to 24-year-olds don’t think it is necessary or important to know where countries in the news are located. So more than three years into the Iraq war, only 23 percent of those with some college could locate Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel on a map.

Ms. Jacoby, dressed in a bright red turtleneck with lipstick to match, was sitting, appropriately, in that temple of knowledge, the New York Public Library’s majestic Beaux Arts building on Fifth Avenue. The author of seven other books, she was a fellow at the library when she first got the idea for this book back in 2001, on 9/11.

Walking home to her Upper East Side apartment, she said, overwhelmed and confused, she stopped at a bar. As she sipped her bloody mary, she quietly listened to two men, neatly dressed in suits. For a second she thought they were going to compare that day’s horrifying attack to the Japanese bombing in 1941 that blew America into World War II:

“This is just like Pearl Harbor,” one of the men said.

The other asked, “What is Pearl Harbor?”

“That was when the Vietnamese dropped bombs in a harbor, and it started the Vietnam War,” the first man replied.

At that moment, Ms. Jacoby said, “I decided to write this book.”

しかしながら、米国における「反知性主義」の犯人探しについていえば、かなり(うんざりする程)陳腐であるともいえる。Jacobyさんは勿論jenderが悪いなどという馬鹿なことは言わないが、犯人其の一は教育制度の失敗、其の二は「宗教的原理主義」、其の三は「1960年代における新左翼の大学への攻撃」とされる。これに加えて、〈ポモ〉(脱構築)が悪い! と言えば完璧なのだが、彼女がそこまで言っているかどうかはわからない。


新しい教養を求めて (中公叢書)

新しい教養を求めて (中公叢書)

グロテスクな教養 (ちくま新書(539))

グロテスクな教養 (ちくま新書(539))

さて、1960年代における米国映画の変容を描いたMark Harris Pictures at the Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywoodという本が出たという*2。このタイトルから、私の脳内にはエマーソン・レイク&パーマーが鳴り響いていますが、あなたは?