New York Times bestselling author Chuck Klosterman asks questions for bar regulars, but gives scholarly answers, based on heaps of pop culture research and speculation.
In his newest book, But What If We’re Wrong, Klosterman’s ideas revolve around our understanding of gravity and time, but then move on to discuss how the future citizens of the world may discuss music, television, and sports (if they still exist).
For now, let’s just touch on Klosterman’s look into rock and roll:
Klosterman starts by listing some obvious facts, like a criminal monologuing before getting into the gory details. When thinking of how future music lovers will define rock and roll five hundred years from now, two names come to mind.
“Elvis Presley and Bob Dylan. The Beatles are the most famous musical collective, but Elvis and Dylan are the towering individuals—so eminent that I don’t need to use Elvis’s last name or Dylan’s first,” writes Klosterman.
At one point, the writer concludes that several other playwrights were around and working in the time of Shakespeare, but we now only think of Shakespeare. If the future considers Elvis to still be "The King," they’ll consider all of rock and roll to be showbizzy, which consists of a man singing songs he didn’t write.
If the future chooses Dylan, however, they’ll think all of rock and roll was highly political in nature, independent in songwriting, and careers ongoing for several decades. “But both conclusions direct us back to the same recalcitrant question: What makes us remember what we remember?”
Klosterman also argues how most everyone who knows the profession of an architect knows the name, Frank Lloyd Wright. However, in the world of architecture, he’s rarely even mentioned.
Essentially, to be the most famous person in your field, you are only iconic to those who don’t know anything about your field.
Finally, and this comes from another section of the book, but the argument remains true: what if the rock and roll icon of the future is someone we’ve never even heard of today?
This doesn’t sound possible, but many of the writers and artists now taught in school were penniless during their existence, despite now being infamous. Either their works were found or they simply didn’t resonate until much later.
For example, every book written around the Civil War is tied to the battlefield, whether or not that was the original intention of the author.
Klosterman argues Native American culture's “marginalization is ignored, thus creating a fertile factor for the kind of brilliant outsider who won’t be recognized until that artist is dead and gone. So this is one possibility [for a future icon]: a Navajo Kafka…” Another pool of candidates Klosterman later mentions: Deep Web.
In the end, the book likely provides more questions than answers, but the prolific writer is meant to make the reader think. As he mentions in the beginning, "I've spent most of my life being wrong. Not about everything. Just about most things..."
For those interested in reading, you can acquire from Amazon for only $10 (paperback) or $14 (hardcover). You won't regret devouring.