Ooh. Shiny. / by Daniel Oppenheimer

This month's Washington Monthly features a review, by me, of Pankaj Mishra's Age of Anger: A History of the Present. This is my favorite part of it, I think:


You may not have seen the commercials for the new Google phone, the Pixel, but even if you haven’t seen them, you’ve seen them. Lots of silver and white and bright colors. Beautiful people of every age, race, and ethnicity in soft, brilliantly dyed natural fibers, to a soundtrack of power pop. A gleaming, seductive vision of a frictionless world in which vibrant landscapes morph into one another, people are running through many-colored effusions of Holi powder, and #technology is the handmaiden of connection and fulfillment. The Pixel ads could be ads for Lexus, Bose, Hulu, or any of the twelve other smartphones that do exactly the same things the Pixel does.

The commercials make me uneasy, as these sorts of ads almost always do—as, in fact, they’re designed to do. They are distillations, in the form of thirty- or sixty-second desire bombs, of the fantasy that with the right stuff we can all have material security, creative fulfillment, control over our destinies, a tribe of cool friends, and a sense of belonging and place in the world.

Mishra is general is a lovely and brilliant writer. The book didn't quite hold together, unfortunately.