A part of Harper Perennial’s special “Resistance Library” highlighting classic works that illuminate the “Age of Trump”: Soren Kierkegaard’s stunningly prescient essay on the dangers of mass media—particularly advertising, marketing, and publicity. An essential read as we reckon with, and try to understand, the media forces that have helped create our present political moment.
“The Present Ageshows just how original Kierkegaard was. He brilliantly foresaw the dangers of the lack of commitment and responsibility in the Public Sphere. When everything is up for endless detached critical comment as on blogs and cable news, action finally becomes impossible.”— Hubert L. Dreyfus, University of California, Berkeley
“A revolutionary age is an age of action; ours is the age of advertisement and publicity. Nothing ever happens but there is immediate publicity everywhere.”— FromThe Present Age
InThe Present Age(1846), Soren Kierkegaard analyzes the philosophical implications of a society dominated by the mass-media. What makes the essay so remarkable is the way it seems to speak directly to our time—i.e. the Information Age—where life is dominated by mere “information” not true “knowledge.” Kierkegaard even goes so far as to say that advertising and publicity almost immediately co-opts and suppresses revolutionary actions/thoughts.
The Present Ageis essential reading for anyone who wishes to better understand the modern world.