Monday, July 31, 2006

PTF Book Club - Whose Freedom?

No, I'm not Oprah, and I'm not a lesbian, either.

But as long as there's all this great discussion beginning to take shape here at PTF, I've been hatching an idea.

Often times, I'd love to be able to discuss some ideas based on recent books I'm reading, but I'm not sure how many of my readers have read the books in question.

That ends today.

Beginning with this inagural effort in this new feature, I'd like to recommend a book, have folks grab a copy and pour over it, and then throw out some ideas to discuss.

Since I'm the FleshPresser, I get to choose first - but later, I'd love others to recommend books for us to consider, as well.

I first became aware of George Lakoff at a conference I attended last year, where he was a Keynote Speaker. This is a portion of what he was speaking about last year:
...when we started talking about stem cell research, Frank Luntz wrote a memo. Frank Luntz is the conservative language man. And the memo said, “Don’t talk about stem cell research; talk about embryonic stem cell research.” Why? And notice this has spread. The New York Times says embryonic stem cell research. The Democrats say embryonic stem cell research. The bill in California says embryonic stem cell research. What is the mental image of an embryo? Think about it, it’s a little baby. Tom DeLay says stem cell research allows people to tear babies apart. Dismember embryos. How does it really work in stem cell research? Stem cell research is carried out on blastocysts. What’s a blastocyst look like? It’s a hollow sphere, just a few days old. It has in it a small number of stem cells. No hair cells, arm cells, blood cells, heart cells, brain cells, nothing else but undifferentiated stem cells. And if you called it blastocyst stem cell research, who would care? But that’s what it really is.

Language matters, framing matters. And framing can distort the truth. It’s very very important, that framing can distort the truth simply by carrying mental imagery. And you know about mental imagery, that’s what you deal with every day.
Upon hearing him speak, I immediately grabbed his book, Don't Think Of An Elephant. Lakoff is a Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics, and a founding senior fellow of the Rockridge Institute.

Which may lead you to believe that he's pretty dry. On the contrary, he not only uses language marvelously, but demonstrates exactly how it is used, particularly with emphasis on political speech.

Which leads us to the Inaugural Selection of the PTF Book Club:

Whose Freedom? The Battle Over America's Most Important Idea

From the book's description:
"'Freedom' is one of the most contested words in American political discourse. For many Democrats, it seems that President Bush's use of the word is meaningless and contradictory--deployed opportunistically to justify American military action abroad and the curtailing of civil liberties at home. But in Whose Freedom?, George Lakoff... reveals that in fact the right has effected a devastatingly coherent and idealogical redefinition of freedom.... In a bold and alarming analysis, Lakoff describes how the country is divided by two dramatically different worldviews, cognitive frames that determine how we think about economic policy, religion, science, foreign affairs - and freedom.
Any book that can make a coherent argument for the fact that there are basic, physiological differences between liberals and conservatives is worth a read, in my view.

So, let us know you're interested by leaving a comment below, grab a copy of the book, and get to reading. We'll begin a few discussion posts here in a week or two, and see how it goes.

I doubt that we'll put a dent in Oprah's Domain, but maybe we can all get together on the same page.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Posted by FleshPresser at 9:30 PM /


  • Blogger The Professor posted at 8:51 PM  
    Okay. I am in. Bought the book today at our local B&N.


  • Post a Comment

    « Home