Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Manifesto

In the essay, "American Jeremiad: A Manifesto," The New York Times discusses the current rise in manifesto publishing.

From the story...

Yes, I am referring to the manifesto. And our writers can’t stop turning them out. It’s not just the Tea Party set they’re aiming for. Out last month was “Reality Hunger: A Manifesto,” David Shields’s call to the literary barricades. Jaron Lanier’s “You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto” stormed the shelves in January, right behind Atul Gawande’s “Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right,” Stewart Brand’s “Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto” and Mark Helprin’s “Digital Barbarism: A Writer’s Manifesto.”

A few clicks reveal a surge of recent and forthcoming titles — from “Organic Manifesto: How Organic Farming Can Heal Our Planet, Feed the World, and Keep Us Safe” to “The Hour: A Cocktail Manifesto”; from “Green Supply Chains: An Action Manifesto” to “Reengineering Health Care: A Manifesto for Aligning Quality, Access, and Cost”; from “The Animal Manifesto: Six Reasons for Expanding Our Compassion Footprint” to “Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto”; from “Jesus Manifesto: Restoring the Supremacy and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ” to (Lord help us!) “Ted, White, and Blue: The Nugent Manifesto.”

If this drumbeat of “manifestos” strikes a false cultural note, perhaps it’s because Americans aren’t much known for writing them. The most memorable — Communist, Futurist, Surrealist — come from Europe, like the word itself. Of course, exceptions have proved the rule at other revolutionary moments in our history — “Common Sense” (1776), “The Bitch Manifesto” (1970), “The Cluetrain Manifesto” (1999) — but for the most part, the manifesto is not a native plant. We Americans tend to gravitate in another direction.

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