Earlier this week I was in Scottsdale, Arizona speaking at the Satellite Women’s Conference and learning a ton about the portable sanitation industry. There are some really brilliant leaders working in this category, and it was fun to get a window into their vocation. And I didn’t drop a single potty-pun, I swear!
While in the desert, I got in some casual reading time at the pool (wearing jeans and a long sleeve shirt, mind you) and finally finished reading “Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History” (affiliate link) by Kurt Andersen.
“History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes.” – Mark Twain
The book is a brutal and unapologetic chronicle of the fantastical and fanciful belief systems that fuel the very ethos of the United States, and how religion, media, architecture, transportation, PT Barnum, Buffalo Bill, and Walt Disney all share in the blame for the current state of American politics.
The rise of “alternative facts” that drives the bulk of Western society these days isn’t actually new. In fact, it’s just the latest manifestation of mainstream magical thinking that repeats itself across every generation – whether as a gold rush, a witch trial, Satanic cults, McCarthyism, survivalism and more.
The author makes this case by raising and illustrating the examples so thoroughly it’s hard not to set the book down after each chapter and strike up a conversation with anyone around who will listen. And if you’re a Christian, fair warning there is going to be some fodder about organized religion that may challenge your beliefs. In a good way.
I’m a very fast reader, but Andersen’s text is so well-researched and well-written that it took me more than 10 hours to get through it. Plus, I had to keep telling my wife fun facts I learned about America and what makes people tick. I’m confident the stories and the examples in the text will stick with me forever. It may not explain the Trump phenomenon explicitly, but it sure offers a multiple of examples of Mark Twain’s aphorism, “History doesn’t repeat itself but it often rhymes.”
This week I’ve also been spinning the new Black Pumas’ self-titled album on repeat in my headphones. I’ve been on a huge retro soul kick the entire summer, and I just when I thought my excitement for the genre was abating I discovered Austin’s Black Pumas.
See you on the internet!