Though Dr. Conley may be "one of America's most brilliant and perceptive social commentators and scholars, and an excellent and entertaining writer as well" as Jeffrey Sachs attests on the back cover, the book itself is a whiny collection of anecdotes about how tough it is for the wealthy to put together myriad psychic lives (Intraviduals? Puhleez...)
Luddites (and other folks capable of thinking as individuals) are not the target audience, and I'm not a book critic, so I'll leave the intravidual universe to the wealthy among us who wake up in the middle of the night pondering which self they want to assume the next day.
Still, I am a teacher. Conley describes a universe of highly "educated"people in agitated states because they are doing exactly what highly "successful"people are supposed to be doing. Success becomes defined by shiny toys and shinier technology (hey, babe, check out my RIM Blackberry Curve 8900).
Something is very wrong here.
I have a couple of hypotheses:
1) Dr. Conley's personal education focused on skills, not the pursuit of happiness. (For the dour crowd that cringes at "the pursuit of happiness," call it the pursuit of knowing what matters, or (dare I say it?) teaching values.)
2) Any universe that focuses on human activities in human environments in a strictly human culture valuing only human accomplishments gets real boring in a hurry. Even if you're at the top of the heap--maybe particularly if you're at the top.
"What is the point of public education?" is a fair and open question.
"How are we going to 'prepare our children to compete in a global economy'?" is a biased and limited question, and one that will ultimately produce more fractured people.
That may help Dr. Conley's Amazon ranking, but will sink the Great Experiment. Are you listening, Arne Duncan?
The picture is of the more interesting kind of blackberry, found here.