Franzen Again

I'm striding along through Freedom, almost halfway through its 562 pages.  (I have two interlibrary loans waiting, which I have to read by the end of November.)  It's clear now that Richard Katz is some version of Franzen himself.  When Katz finally achieves success with his music, he checks out.  When he is busted for DUI in Miami, he is sentenced to rehab in guess where?  Tallahassee!

For a guy as cool as Richard, being played on NPR and being nominated for a Grammy are devastating, much as Franzen recoiled when The Corrections was selected to be an Oprah reading club selection.  To have a bunch of uncool Oprah-watching women gushing about his book revolted him.  It is interesting to see him write honestly about this.

Walter, meanwhile, has painted himself into a strange corner in a house of ecological horrors.  His natural allies when he worked for the Nature Conservancy failed to see his big picture. Clinton and Gore have let him down.  Now he is involved in a convoluted scheme in which he is used by, and attempting in turn to use, powerful rich men to realize his Zero Population Growth fantasy.

I feel I know Walter very well.  I have met him many times, and have been him myself.  Any number of things can get him ranting:  SUV's, large families, (which are the Pope's fault), pet cats, grass lawns, television, malls, hamburgers.  I used to know a couple:  the husband was a Walter, always bummed out, always angry in this way.  His wife finally decided she'd had enough, and left him.

To be fair to the conservation movement, Walter's state of mind is ideology-neutral.  It is a state of anxiety and depression.  Someone else, in the same state of mind, might see all signs pointing to a totalitarian one-world government, rather than eco-catastrophe.  Either way, such world-views speak to me of a lack of trust in God.

Ok, it's late, and I'm going to stop now.  Freedom has got me tripping.  It's the good stuff.

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