Jonathan Franzen: Liking is for Cowards

Jonathan Franzen is the author of the acclaimed recent novel, “Freedom,” and an avid conservationist and bird watcher to boot.  In a weekend op-ed for The New York Times, Franzen takes us on a fascinating exploration that finds unlikely links between consumer technology, love, and environmentalism.

[T]he ultimate goal of technology, the telos of techne, is to replace a natural world that’s indifferent to our wishes — a world of hurricanes and hardships and breakable hearts, a world of resistance — with a world so responsive to our wishes as to be, effectively, a mere extension of the self.

Let me suggest, finally, that the world of techno-consumerism is therefore troubled by real love, and that it has no choice but to trouble love in turn.

It’s an enlightening read from one of our generation’s great writers. Read the whole piece here. The column was adapted from a commencement speech Franzen gave at Kenyon College, which you can listen to here.

For more on Franzen’s interest in birding and bird conservation, check out this Grist interview from December 2010.

Photo: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux / EPA (via Guardian)

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