In Persuasion Nation
One of my favorite authors of our age takes the übermasculine form of George Saunders, the living king of the short story, and his new collection In Persuasion Nation
, comprising many stories recently published in The New Yorker
, perfectly encapsulates our headlong rush toward Cathcart-ism (Between Saunders and my recent immersion in Catch-22
--taking these as apt representations of the times in which we live--I feel like sleep is the briefest escape into coherent existence). I cannot help but feel at times that my relative nonage contributes to the way in which I search pages and faces of elders to explain such times to me. As I grew up, the Cold war consisted of waving sticks at figment Communists. Then the 90s passed so innocuously during my putative formative years that the status quo for existence I have developed in my mind comparatively condemns so much I see and hear today. Bush and Republicans suffer most in these evaluations, but that doesn't excuse me, my friends, my religious co-confessors, and political allies from similarly not measuring up. If it seemed so effortless once, why not so anymore? What am I and millions of other people not doing right? Because of such thoughts and questions, I loved the following passage among the material the magnanimous Squadron Leader Saunders offers on the promo page for his new book
A Press Release from PRKA
Now it can be told.
Last Thursday, my organization, People Reluctant to Kill for an Abstraction (PRKA), orchestrated an overwhelming show of force around the globe.
At precisely nine in the morning, working with focus and stealth, our entire membership succeeded in simultaneously beheading no one. At nine-thirty, we embarked upon Phase II, during which our entire membership simultaneously did not force a single man to simulate sex with another man. At ten, Phase III began, during which not a single one of us blew himself/herself up in a crowded public place. No civilians were literally turned inside-out via our powerful explosives....
The whole thing is worth reading along with Saunders' delicious satire of advertisement, material consumption, and all of us facile moderns. If you join the persuasion nation army, not only do you get this kind of boring arrangement of lexically-ordered typography but also posters and boss fake tattoos. As Saunders writes, "Join us. Resistance is futile."