Dreams Of The Millennium: Report From a Culture on the Brink

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9780140283082: Dreams Of The Millennium: Report From a Culture on the Brink

In this brilliantly conceived exploration of doomsaying and revelation, Mark Kingwell argues that the brink tendencies manifested by contemporary popular culture—the popularity of body piercing, for example, or the proliferation of miracles—are, in fact, inextricably linked to the impending fin de siècle.

One of Maclean's top ten non-fiction books of 1996

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A quick, entertaining, often flippant guide to the zeitgeist. Kingwell (Philosophy/Univ. of Toronto) is interested in everything--``high'' and ``low'' culture alike. Thinkers and trends he covers range from the political theorist Michael Lind to the ``new'' leadership-training programs in business, from the apocalyptic environmental philosopher Thomas Homer-Dixon to an exhibition by psychics. Along the way, he offers some very interesting and at times witty observations, as in his pungent comment concerning leadership-studies guru Warren Bennis: ``His lessons are hoary with age yet presented with an air of breathless discovery.'' Unfortunately, Kingwell often flits from topic to topic, sometimes dealing with phenomena that seem to have little, if anything, to do with the coming millennium, e.g., a syndrome in which visitors to Jerusalem have messianic delusions. He is also prone to some silly generalizations. And while he has a refreshingly breezy journalistic style, Kingwell sometimes lapses into academic pretentiousness, such as describing tattooing (!) as ``perhaps the one remaining utopian gesture.'' Finally, despite his frequent tone of world-weary irony, he seems too eager to assign a host of phenomena to end-of-millennium yearning or anxiety, and to engage in reckless prophesying: ``We can anticipate scenes of mass hysteria and terror'' as the millennium approaches. Kingwell's jaundiced perspective may be traceable to his focus on thinkers who specialize in ``ivory tower'' theorizing or who reside at the cultural margins. While this makes for a great deal of eye-opening material, something essential seems missing: the hopes and anxieties of many in the Western world's middle class. These seem far more focused on diurnal family and economic issues than on the almost mythic third millennium, whose contours are still less clearly discernible than Kingwell thinks. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

If one is looking for predictions of what the new millennium will bring (officially in 2001), these books are not the place to look. Instead, they discuss why the changing calendar affects us humans as much as it does. Kennedy (Sensual Healing, M. Evans, 1996) centers her discussion under three headings: prophecy, rage, and the New Age. Prophecy takes us from the biblical book of Revelation to Nostradamus and a consideration of the prophetic personality. The rage that we currently experience results from various fears and the sense of loss of control, which New Age thinking aims to restore. Kingwell (philosophy, Univ. of Toronto) examines a wide range of phenomena, from AIDS to global warming, that make for millennial anxiety. He skillfully intertwines personal reflections with much reference to history, philosophy, and current cultural phenomena, from the rage for angels to body piercing. He calls the reader to the middle ground, where the anxiety is recognized but not allowed to take over. Both of these timely, accessible works are worthwhile acquisitions for public libraries.?John Moryl, Yeshiva Univ. Libs., New York
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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ISBN 10: 0140283080 ISBN 13: 9780140283082
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