December 18, 2013

David Brooks' literary gimmick and "Life of Julia"

In his 2011 quasi-novel The Social Animal, David Brooks used a literary device that I'd never seen before: the book tracks two fictional characters from birth to old age, but, as Brooks explained:
"The story takes place perpetually in the current moment, the early twenty-first century, because I want to describe different features of the way we live now …"

I recently asked where Brooks got this ploy. Surely some other author has used this. So far, nobody has come up with an antecedent. However, a commenter points out a likely influence of Brooks' approach:
John Mansfield said... 
"Life of Julia had this quality, the one about the woman who advanced from childhood to old age, assisted at each stage by the Obama administration."


Obama is a Brooks fan. Brooks' The Social Animal came out about a year before the Obama campaign's Life of Julia website debuted in the first half of 2012.


Anonymous said...

Groundhog Day

Anonymous said...

Why are you stuck on this? It's the most irritating part of the novel.

First, it's lazy. A novel about a person's life is supposed to take in the sweep of history. Novelists are supposed to spend a few weeks in the library researching what babies were fed in New Haven in 1952, for instance.

Second, it's conceited. It reduces human history to Now. All times are My Times.

Third, it's more conceited. It deifies human effort and reduces broad historical, economic, demographic and cultural shifts to nothing. Brooks and his striver readers want to believe that they can achieve anything if they work hard and smart enough; in real life, people run up against impassable walls not of their own creation. Imagine if everything else in Brooks' mental bag of tricks was the same but he was born a Pakistani citizen. Would his life be the same?

But, hey, Brooks' readers want to read a Gospel Of Their Infinite Potential, so Brooks gave them what they wanted, just like he gives his liberal editors what they want.

International Jew said...

Obama may be a Brooks fan, but designing campaign ads seems way too hands-on a thing for 0 to ever have gotten involved in. In fact, if he'd had a hand in inventing the Julia ads, Michelle would have made him sleep on the couch for thinking about another woman...worse, a white woman.

By the way, why is iSteve plastered with ads from the New Israel Fund? Or is that some kind of big-data-based customization just for me (reflecting my other reading habits and search history)?

Anonymous said...,0,5254867.story#axzz2nvB2nEwW

Why was he blacklisted? What horrible thing did he say?

"He also said a woman's vagina was 'more desirable' than a man's anus."

So, saying that the vagina and not the man's fecal hole is complementary to the man's penis is grounds for being banned from the media.

Liberal logic. Those who praised mass killers Stalin and Mao were wonderful people in the 50s and should have been free to serve in government and all elite institutions. They were saintly victims of McCarthyism.

But if you believe the male anus isn't a proper sex organ, you must be banned from the media.

The guy also "referred to gay people as "homosexual offenders" who would not "inherit the Kingdom of God."

So what? Christians don't believe everyone goes to heaven. They believe pagans will burn in hell. So, why not ban ALL Christians for their 'anti-pagan bigotry'?
Why is it okay to believe pagans won't go to heaven but it's not okay to believe homos won't go to heaven?

Anonymous said...

Chinese journalists face Marxist ideology exam

Same in the West. If you want to work in the media, you must praise Jews, homos, Mandela, illegal immigrants all the time. You must endorse multiculturalism, feminism, 'gay marriage', pornography, Zionism, and globalism.

It's funny that the West condemns Chinese practices when it has its own politically correct do's and don'ts when it comes to who can work in the media.

Anonymous said...

Truman Show

Anonymous said...

Brave New World.

Reg C├Žsar said...

Comic strips and cartoon series do the opposite: the environment progresses temporally but the characters don't.

Zoblin said...

I will show the harm of incestuous breeding using a realistic simplified model.

Assume everyone has 100 pairs of genes of which 2 are bad defective recessive mutations, one from each parent, and the same 100 defects are randomly distributed.

In a random coupling, there is a 1% chance of coupling with someone who has the same bad gene, or 2% total since there are two bad genes per person. The children of carrier matches will have a 1 in 4 chance of having the defect, for an overall defect rate of .25 × .02 or 0.5%.

Siblings will on average have one defective gene in common. In that case, 25% will be defective, though some couplings will be risk free and some have a 50% defect rate. You can see this yourself by writing out the combinations on paper.

For first cousins the risk will be exactly half of this or 12.5%. A second generation of first cousin will be even higher and over time converge toward the sibling rate.

So yes first cousin marriage is still extremely unhealthy, both in the USA where it is rare and abroad where it is common.

my gumby is yours said...

"bad defective recessive"

That's intolerant and judgmental.

Who is anyone to say what is 'bad', 'defective', or 'bad'?

In this age when the male anus is a bonafide(or boner ride) sex organ, how dare you use such Nazi-like terminology?

Bad is the new good. Defective is the new functional.