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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Dance With The Devil

Immortal Technique - Dance With The Devil

In order to finally catch up with the books I've read over my vacation, I'll just include the last two in one entry.

Don't Think of an Elephant by George Lakoff is the first one. I read it on the flight back to France after I had gotten it as a christmas present. The basic premise of the book is how to argue with a Republican. According to Lakoff frames that are used in public discourse dominate the debate more so than facts do. Thus, a debate about tax relief will always put a Democratic partisan at a disadvantage simply because the word relief already implies that taxes are something inherently bad that need to be treated similarly to a sickness. In order to win any kind of public discussion it is accordingly of the utmost importance that positive progressive frames are formed. Without these, Democrats cannot win any elections in the near future. I am usually quite sceptic about these ideas that the form in a way is more important then the package. I feel that a democracy should strive to have an enlightened population that forms its decision based on the facts presented to them. Somekind of Homo Oeconomicus modell. Yet, this book made me doubt myself a little. I realize that most people aren't as informed as they should be and that these people can easily be swayed to vote for one party or another by simple catchy headlines, it seems likely that in order to win any kind of election one needs to adhere to these modus operandis. All in all Lakoff makes a very good case for his argument and I would completely recommend his book for anyone interested in political discourse. One negative point, in the later chapters Lakoff tries himself at some political analysis as well, where I found him to be weaker, most likely simply because he leaves his usual field of studies (he is a linguist after all).

The second book was a little less intelligent made for an entertaining read though, similarly to the Terry Pratchett novel I discussed a couple of days ago, Tony Hillerman's Skeleton Man belongs to the genre of easily accesible books that one can read in one sitting. Hillerman writes crime novels that take place in the area of the Four Corner Reservation, his heroes are officers of the Navajo Tribal Police and he is always good for a thrilling crime novel. Definitely one of the most enjoyable bestseller writers of the day I know.

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