Sunday, January 28, 2024

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah is a lovely novel about the characters Vianne Mauriac and her sister Isabelle in occupied France during World War II. 

It's so important have books like this that keep alive the stories of German atrocities during the war, and Hannah does a great job telling of the heroic actions of the sisters, with a great conclusion to the book about the lasting impact of both women.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Doppelganger by Naomi Klein

Doppelganger by Naomi Klein is a compelling nonfiction book subtitled A Trip into the Mirror World. Klein writes about herself and Naomi Wolf, someone she has been often mistaken for, and provides an interesting examination into our society and the extremist beliefs held by many. Klein and Wolf at one time were both writing about individual autonomy and corporate power, with Klein in 2007 publishing The Shock Doctrine about exploitation of large-scale events, and them being mistaken for one other seems understandable.

Wolf began to espouse more conspiracy theories prior to pandemic, and then with it, her statements became much more unhinged. Her anti-vax views went to the level of writing about "vaccine shedding," the idea that vaccinated people could infect the unvaccinated. She also put out videos like "Why Vaccine Passports Equal Slavery Forever" and became a regular guest on Steve Bannon's show. 

Where the book gets particularly interesting is in how Klein points out that Wolf takes ideas and questions that are legitimate and should be asked, but goes so far with them to make any discussion around the topics seem wrong or like binary opposites, basically the legitimate argument gets co-opted by the outlandish one, rendering it moot.

The extremist right argues against governmental controls, and does so in such a wild manner, that normal people can't argue against them also. Basically, government conspiracists take over the argument about government in general. Extremists talk about government spying on us and Liberals react with how crazy Extremists are, and lose the ability to make arguments about privacy from governmental incursion. 

Another example is criticism of the role Bill Gates had in COVID-19 policy and drug companies having patents on COVID vaccines when vaccine development was so heavily government subsidized becomes muted, lest that discussion be confused with people demonizing Gates and vaccines in general. Klein writes that legitimate debate functionally gets killed when you have situations that this, with about Wolf, her noting that it felt like Wolf took Klein's ideas and fed into a bonkers blender, with the  thought-puree then shared with Tucker Carlson. 

Klein raises the concept of diagonalism, or diagonal alliances, where different conspiracy theories or grievances all roll together, or at least align together. The term pipikism is also used, with it from writer Philip Roth and about the idea of inconsequentializing or trivializing things, with perhaps the most dangerous form of pipikism being the make-up possibility that perhaps the Nazis weren't so awful, and also invented idea that vaccine cards are sort of like Star of David that Jews were forced to wear. Equating vaccines with the attempted extermination of an entire race makes the extermination seem less of a big deal, a dangerous and horrifying slope to go down when the actions of Nazis are trivialized. There's a lot to the book that Klein writes. It starts with the idea of Wolf as her doppelganger, but then covers well so much more.