Against Everything is a book about self-improvement. Before you tune out, I ask you to challenge your notion of 'self-improvement.'
You might first think of Norman Vincent Peale's, The Power of Positive Thinking or How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, by Dale Carnegie. They tell you what you need to do and how to achieve that ephemeral thing you didn't know was required to live a good life. They tell us about how to do the things we're told we're supposed to do. No deeper thought required for assembly.
Mark Greif asks us something different: to think about those things we think we're supposed to do. Do we do those things? For the reasons that we're told? What if our true reasons are deeper than we know? And, what if this wisdom is unwise or flat-out bad advice?
Why are we attracted to YouTube? Why do we pursue fitness with obsessive fervor? Why is being young so much more desirable than aging? What is the function of a police force in a democratic society?
"to wish to be against everything is to want the world to be bigger than all of it, disposed to dissolve rules and compromises in a gallon or a drop, while an ocean of possibility rolls around us. No matter what you are supposed to do, you can prove the supposition wrong, just by doing something else.
Did I mention he was deeply influenced by Henry David Thoreau?
- Mark Greif - Co-founder and editor of n+1 and the author of The Age of the Crisis of Man: Thought and Fiction in America, 1933-1973, and most recently, Against Everything: Essays
Colin McEnroe, Jonathan McNicol, and Chion Wolf contributed to this show.