rI just finished reading "Everything bad is good for you" by Steven Johnson. Jonas Smith bought it in Vancouver while at Level Up. He told me that it's one of those books that you read quickly and, afterwards, you feel like you have accomplished something. We was right on the spot. More than a simple book, "Everything bad..." works more like a laboratory where ideas are tested to its limits. I found myself constantly trying to apply its different theses to alternative examples. Surely, I may not agree with some of its points but who cares? Provocation is as respectable as rigurosity because it makes you think! I guess that this post qualifies as a book review and the genre requires me to express at least a couple negative points about it. Well, the hell with that. I am sick and tired of objective reviews that make you forget that a book does not need to be perfect in order to open your mind. Let's just focus on how great this book it, not just on a content level but specially on a formal level. Here we have a book about media studies written in such an accessible plain English that I triggered me into more than one "I cannot believe it's not butter" moments. My definitively snobbish European intellectual upbringing warned me about American essays with no obscure references and dumbed-down examples. Well, there is nothing that is dumbed-down in Johnson's book. Which of course is the perfect style for a book that basically argues that, contrary to common belief, pop culture is not dumbing us down neither The book is a pleasure to read but rather than flowing like a good book it flows like a good videogame: easy to understand, difficult to master. Every few pages bring a new challenge, a new boss battle. It reads like McLuhan minus the ambiguous nonsense.
rMost critical books are written in the same way that scientists in white coats design obscure VCR interfaces. "Everything is bad" is the WarioWare of critical writing: challenging, fun, it encourages experimentation and it reminds you that thinking is fun and that your brain can smile, too. And just like WarioWare it's a somehow frustratingly short experience but this makes it more likely to be later enjoyed again and again and again.