Friday, November 29, 2013

The McDonaldization of Society – 6

The 6th edition of George Ritzer’s The McDonaldization of Society (SAGE Publications, 2010) critically
examines the fast food model of social life in modern urban societies. Taking the United States as the prime example of an increasingly McDonaldized society over the decades, Ritzer discusses the evolution of a number of key social institutions along the lines of the fast food restaurants – hence the name “McDonaldization”, after the fast food giant that has expansively established itself in US and is also growing steadily abroad.

The book discusses four core principles of McDonaldization: efficiency, predictability, calculability, and control. Each one is discussed separately as well as in relation to social structure and social relations. Ritzer illustrates how an overemphasis on these principles is leading to deterioration of our status and values as humans, increasingly being mechanized by the McDonaldization model whether in feeding, education, health, or a number of other areas in our daily life.  

Perhaps the most revealing aspect of the Ritzer’s book is showing the self-defeating nature of the 
McDonaldization process, or what he terms as “irrationality of rationality”. His examples from various social institutions explain to readers how standardized procedures characteristic of a McDonaldized system work against it such that efficiency turns into inefficiency, predictability gives way to uncertainty, and so on.
This book has a good deal for the reader to digest including a few examples of potentially DeMcDonaldized systems or those that have not been completely taken over by the McDonaldization principles. 

This edition of The McDonaldization of Society is a good read for any serious readers and particularly for those studying social institutions, modern societies, or more recent history of the American society.  
ISBN: 978-1412980128

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Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Pine Island Paradox

First published nearly a decade ago, The Pine Island Paradox (Milkweed Editions, 2004) remains a
timeless read. Author and speaker Kathleen Dean Moore takes her readers along on her personal journey in and with nature on Pine Island, in the Alaskan wilderness. And while camping with her family on the island, Moore makes some vital connections with the place and life there.
Moore’s approach toward living in nature borders on the ecological and the philosophical – a state of finely tuned consciousness that diffuses the boundaries between one’s “self” and nature.  To Moore, the “harmony of the whole” is of prime importance, and that shows in her camping experience on Pine Island where she finds a reciprocal relationship between people and their places: people and the world are co-creators of the future. (126)   
The imagery in this book will literally possesses any reader who has experienced the purity of wilderness, but will also likely engage the attention of those who stay tethered to modern urban settings and have at least some vicarious experience of unadulterated nature. The sounds, colors, and feel of being out in the open enrich one’s reading experience on Moore’s pages – a journal wherein lost connections are discovered.
The Pine Island Paradox has deep ethical implications. Nowhere preachy, Moore’s work calls for “ecological ethics of care”; it is more a call for retrieving our lost relationship with our true nature, the one we have reduced to our ever-rising consumerism. These chapters work against the divide-and-rule view that has sucked our society in over the decades; it is a call for a unite-and-thrive way of thinking and living.
Moore’s book raises a number of important questions for thought. The one that stayed with this writer long after the book was closed is: If the world was created by the separation of one thing from another, the seas from the dry land, the birds of the air from the fish of the sea, will it end with a gradual coming together? (224)     

ISBN: 978-1571312815

Thursday, November 07, 2013

The Road-Shaped Heart

Free verse doesn’t always instantiate the freedom of voice carried within its lines. Not so with Nick Purdon. The Road-Shaped Heart (Modern History Press, 2011). The poet from South African liberates his poetic expression from the constraints of time, space, and perceptual confines of man in his book of collected poems

The 25 poems included in this collection explore the dimensions in and beyond the perceptual experience. Purdon’s motifs include the sacred distance, the tenderness of emotion, life as a journey, and the cycle of life and death. His freedom of spirit shows in blending perception with delirium to witness what he terms “blinding synethesia” (p. 15).

Purdon’s use of language has poetic beauty, often fitting short words skillfully to create the rhythm in lines: “I will you to slice me open/I want you to see/how scarlet I am for you” (p. 27).

The message that takes precedence in The Road-Shaped Heart is celebrating this unique journey called life, with “an awesome heart” that is likely to drown in itself – the gift of being able to make our choice of the path we take in life.

This book is lovable for its aesthetic and literary merit.

ISBN: 978-1615990573