Book Review: How To Do Nothing

How To Do Nothing:  Resisting The Attention Economy, by Jenny Odell

This book is a deeply hypocritical one on many levels.  The author is not so much interested in encouraging or instructing the reader to do nothing, but rather to do nothing that is economically productive.  The author is quite fine with the person reading the book to be like she is and irrationally obsessed with leftist political causes and involved in all kinds of activism, but she does not want to encourage at all any sort of productive work or any kind of approval of businesses and the way that they operate.  Indeed, the San Francisco-based author of this book does not even respect the good work done for leftists by tech companies like Google and Facebook, as she has as much scorn for those companies as for any others, simply because these companies desire to be profitable and operate like any other businesses.  So let us understand that in the typical leftist double-speak that readers of this book ought to be familiar with, the author does not mean what she says but rather is talking in some sort of leftist code that is easy enough to understand for her fellow activists to cheer on, even as they do nothing useful while doing a great deal that is not.

In terms of its structure, this book is about 200 pages long and is divided into six relatively long chapters.  The book begins with an introduction that encourages the reader to survive usefulness and devote oneself to countercultural ideals.  This is bookended with a conclusion that shows the author as wanting to tear down everything in contemporary society as far as business and political culture is concerned, after which there are the usual acknowledgements, notes, and an index.  In between the author discusses the case for nothing as she sees it (which is far from nothing, it must be admitted) (1), the impossibility of retreating from the world because leftists bring their personal drama with them even in communes (2), as well as the anatomy of refusing to go along with the ways of the business world (3).  After that the author discusses exercises in the sort of attention that she approves of (4), the ecology of strangers (5), and finally the author’s thoughts for how the grounds for thought can be restored (6), seeing as the author finds herself to be far too often deranged by her political extremism.

This book is in many ways a collection of personal essays that demonstrates the irrationally and hostility of the contemporary leftist author.  Indeed, only someone who has taken a sip from the same jar of kool-aid could fail to see in this book anything that is worthy of praise.  The language of the book as a whole is immensely hypocritical and utterly absent of self-awareness of the double standards that the author seeks to set up.  Like many authors, the author of this book likely views herself as a deeply insightful and deeply tolerant person, but does not have any nice things to say about Trump, much less more conservative people (and she does not seem to understand that Trump is far from far-right, but is in fact a populist of the middle-right variety), and she even does not have much good to say about mainstream leftists.  Instead, this author is one of those people who simply wants to dismantle everything in the current social system because it does not serve her or her political agenda.  We would do well to steer very clear of this author and others of her ilk, because if this book strikes one as reasonable, then one has a deep problem with recognizing the harm of extremism.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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