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The Great Brain Suck

And Other American Epiphanies

More and more information is pumped into our media-saturated world every day, yet Americans seem to know less and less. In a society where who you are is defined by what you buy, and where we prefer to experience reality by watching it on TV, Eugene Halton argues something has clearly gone wrong.
            Luckily Halton, with scalpel-sharp wit in one hand and the balm of wisdom in the other, is here to operate on the declining body politic. His initial diagnosis is bleak: fast food and too much time spent sitting, whether in our cars or on our couches, are ruining our bodies, while our minds are weakened by the proliferation of electronic devices—TVs, computers, cell phones, iPods, video games—and their alienating effects. If we are losing the battle between autonomy and automation, he asks, how can our culture regain self-sufficiency? Halton finds the answer in the inspiring visions—deeply rooted in American culture—of an organic and more spontaneous life at the heart of the work of master craftsman Wharton Esherick, legendary blues singer Muddy Waters, urban critic Lewis Mumford, and artist Maya Lin, among others.
            A scathing and original jeremiad against modern materialism, The Great Brain Suck is also a series of epiphanies of a simpler but more profound life.

336 pages | 5 color plates, 27 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2008

Philosophy: Philosophy of Society

Sociology: Sociology of Arts--Leisure, Sports, Theory and Sociology of Knowledge


The Great Brain Suck is a wholly original book that draws on Eugene Halton’s careful empirical and conceptual work to offer critical insights into American life and scholarship. As he details the ways that the American citizen has given way to the American consumer—the ways we have been fooled by the commodity magicians of commerce—Halton provides new, sound, and fascinating perspectives on both contemporary and historic American themes.”

Russell Belk, York University

“Witty, acerbic, and brilliant. Halton takes on truly basic philosophical issues, but unlike the great majority of cultural critics today, he is philosophically prepared and highly competent to do so. Halton’s extraordinary work is nearly unique among current writers in its relevance, incisiveness, and philosophical power.”

Bruce Wilshire, Rutgers University

Table of Contents


1. The Great Brain Suck
2. Out of the Fifties
3. Go Man Go
4. The Hunter-Gatherers’ World’s Fair
5. Life, Literature, and Sociology in Turn-of-the Century Chicago
6. Communicating Democracy: Or Shine, Perishing Republic
7. Lem’s Master’s Voice
8. An American Epiphany in Nashville
9. The House on Mount Misery
10. The Art and Craft of Home
11. Europiphanies
12. The Last Days of Lewis Mumford
13. Teleparodies
14. His One Leg


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