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65

The Last Men: Houellebecq, Sebald, McEwan

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Kirsch, A. (2014). The Last Men: Houellebecq, Sebald, McEwan. In Kirsch, A. Rocket and Lightship: Essays on Literature and Ideas. W. W. Norton Company, pp. 65-82

68

When Fukuyama published his book, in 1992, he was specifically concerned with the loss of thymos among Americans. It was America that had won the Cold War, thus establishing the uncontestable superiority of liberal democracy and inaugurating the end of History. Yet it was also America that, to Fukuyama, seemed to be growing soft in its prosperity--concerned with material goods and self-esteem, indifferent to duty and sacrifice. "Those earnest young people trooping off to law and business school," he wrote, "who anxiously fill out their resumes in hopes of maintaining the lifestyles to which they believe themselves entitled, seem to be much more in danger of becoming last men, rather than reviving the passions of the first man." [...]

honestly Fukuyama has good point here. links to how I feel about fitting within the system etc

—p.68 by Adam Kirsch 6 years, 2 months ago

When Fukuyama published his book, in 1992, he was specifically concerned with the loss of thymos among Americans. It was America that had won the Cold War, thus establishing the uncontestable superiority of liberal democracy and inaugurating the end of History. Yet it was also America that, to Fukuyama, seemed to be growing soft in its prosperity--concerned with material goods and self-esteem, indifferent to duty and sacrifice. "Those earnest young people trooping off to law and business school," he wrote, "who anxiously fill out their resumes in hopes of maintaining the lifestyles to which they believe themselves entitled, seem to be much more in danger of becoming last men, rather than reviving the passions of the first man." [...]

honestly Fukuyama has good point here. links to how I feel about fitting within the system etc

—p.68 by Adam Kirsch 6 years, 2 months ago
71

Three more different writers could hardly be invented--which makes it all the more suggestive that their portraits of the spiritual state of contemporary Europe are so powerfully complementary. They show us a Europe that is affluent and tolerant, enjoying all the material blessings that human beings have always struggled for, and that the Europeans of seventy years ago would have thought unattainable. Yet these three books are also haunted by intimations of belatedness and decline, by the fear that Europe has too much history behind it to thrive. They suggest that currents of rage and despair are still coursing beneath the calm surface of society, occasionally erupting into violence. And they worry about what will happen when a Europe gorged on its historical good fortune has to defend itself against an envious and resentful world.

—p.71 by Adam Kirsch 6 years, 2 months ago

Three more different writers could hardly be invented--which makes it all the more suggestive that their portraits of the spiritual state of contemporary Europe are so powerfully complementary. They show us a Europe that is affluent and tolerant, enjoying all the material blessings that human beings have always struggled for, and that the Europeans of seventy years ago would have thought unattainable. Yet these three books are also haunted by intimations of belatedness and decline, by the fear that Europe has too much history behind it to thrive. They suggest that currents of rage and despair are still coursing beneath the calm surface of society, occasionally erupting into violence. And they worry about what will happen when a Europe gorged on its historical good fortune has to defend itself against an envious and resentful world.

—p.71 by Adam Kirsch 6 years, 2 months ago