Monday, June 25, 2018

Enjoying It: Candy Crush and Capitalism Paperback – December 11, 2015 by Alfie Bown (Zero Books / John Hunt Publishing)

This short book wastes no time in cutting to the chase: contemplating why we enjoy what we enjoy helps us recognize and better understand environmental and market forces that influence our dispositions to certain types of entertainment. The author does not suggest that readers should adopt more "high-brow" forms of enjoyment (e.g. reading complex critical theory) and forsake certain other types of mindless enjoyment (e.g. playing Candy Crush). Rather, Dr. Bown places all enjoyment on a level playing field to be analyzed as more or less equal enjoyments. This approach encourages introspection from the reader into what our enjoyments are without the red herrings of analyzing how worthless some of our enjoyments are. Although Dr. Bown does provide several helpful case studies, he provides them as cairns along the path to understand the point he's getting at.

For example, we all know that playing games on our phones is usually an unproductive waste of time. But had this book made that its central focus, we'd likely miss the larger themes of enjoyment in general. All enjoyment. We'd agree that Instagram is a waste of time, vow to spend less time on our phones, and then let the new goal slowly deteriorate and disappear within a week of finishing the book. However, by not ranking or disparaging certain enjoyments, this book helps the reader recognize that even the book we're reading provides a certain enjoyment that needs to be analyzed. Why did we buy this book? What environmental and market forces drove us to purchase this book, and what is it about us that enjoys reading it?

This is an excellent essay that deserves to be read. There were a couple typos on the first few pages that contributed to a somewhat improvised feel of the book, but that only added to the experience of reading what seemed to be a thoroughly-thoughtful profound stream of thought on enjoyment.

I haven't read much critical theory, but this wasn't written for professors. This spoke well to my layman understanding, and it has encouraged me to read more critical theory.

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