Jackson Lears Has Won Accolades For His Skill In Identifying The Rich And Unexpected Layers Of Meaning Beneath The Familiar And Mundane In Our Lives Now, He Challenges The Conventional Wisdom That The Protestant Ethic Of Perseverance, Industry, And Disciplined Achievement Is What Made America Great Turning To The Deep, Seldom Acknowledged Reverence For Luck That Runs Through Our Entire History From Colonial Times To The Early Twenty First Century, Lears Traces How Luck, Chance, And Gambling Have Shaped And, At Times, Defined Our National Character. Jackson Lears Something for Nothing is an interesting and thought provoking work written in the vein of social and cultural history, much like his No Place of Grace, now some thirty years old It looks at a wide swath of subjects from gambling, the rise of the market, and various Native American and slave folk traditions related to chance and luck.According to Lears, two contradictory forces have always been at the heart of American experience that of the speculative confidence man who has his eye on main chance rather than moral imperative and the other which exalts a disciplined self made man whose success comes through the careful cultivation of Protestant values p 3 He calls these two instincts the culture of chance and culture of control respectively Even though the growth of Protestantism and especially Puritanism damaged a vernacular culture of luck by trying to impose a Providential reason and rationality upon it, instead of allowing for the free flow of play embodied by Fortuna , the split between the elite idea that Providence was superior and the popular, demotic idea of divination persisted throughout the culture Lears looks at the cultural importations of African slaves and Indians that created complex social relations with whites As John Greenleaf Whittier asked rhetorically in 1847 Is it not strange that the desire to lift the great veil of the mystery before us should overcome, in some degree, our peculiar and most republican prejudice aga
competent and straightforward humanities work, as Professor Lears draws upon literature and culture studies to discuss chance hazard luck in American life identity not quite as dynamic, strong, or spell binding as the best humanities writing out there, but at least compe
Decent look at the ways that a pursuit of gambling, luck, and chance has contrasted with a pursuit of control or determinism Lears notes that people might subscribe to both schools e.g., going to church on Sunday and engaging in divination, magic, gambling, or get rich quick schemes on the side My problems with the book are mainly methodological Lears treats luck, chance, etc., as basically synonymous He tends to reduce different cultures magical objects and c
Dense Agitating Stimulating Particularly illuminating if you distrust both religion and gambling. not that informative and dreadfully boring sounded like a cool multi disciplinary work of pop scholarship, but it turned out to be poorly executed, in my estimation.
- 416 pages
- Something for Nothing: Luck in America
- Jackson Lears
- 12 March 2019 Jackson Lears