Chris Hedges’ New Jeremiad … And a Plague of Chrises

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Chris Hedges has published a new book called Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.

Hedges is an award-winning journalist and a bestselling author, and he’s intellectually double-jointed: one of his earlier books was I Don’t Believe in Atheists, and he has debated Christopher Hitchens, the scourge of religious crazies, while himself having a go at religious crazies.

Empire of Illusion is in the grand tradition of windbags decrying the decline of Western civilization. The windbags have a point, but they often try a little too hard to show off their cultural populism. Hedges goes boldly where few before have gone to deconstruct the lowbrow imagery of Jerry Springer (now there’s an up-to-minute junk TV icon) and … WWE. News flash from Hedges: pro wrestling no longer neatly divides into heroes and villains.

My other observation on Empire of Illusion is to wonder why there are so many Chrises in my life. Chris Hedges, Christopher Hitchens. Also Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Chris Masters, Chris Nowinski. Even Christopher Baynes, the prosecutor in the Albany DA’s office who helped bust Signature Pharmacy.

Supply your own punch line.

Irv Muchnick

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