In 2015, Current Affairs legal editor Oren Nimni and I published a peculiar little book called Blueprints for a Sparkling Tomorrow. Ostensibly a book of “social theory and utopian prophecy,” we intended it as a parody of academic navel-gazing and over-confident professorial pontification. In the book, we play the characters of two bitter, unsuccessful scholars who are determined to solve all existing social problems and denounce those who fail to appreciate their findings. The style is a mixture of Buckminster Fuller, Paul Goodman’s Utopian Essays & Practical Proposals, Slavoj Žižek, and Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire, with a bit of Discordianism thrown in. It’s also influenced by an obscure volume called The Octagon-House: A Home For All, a hilariously insane 19th-century tract proposing that all houses should be octagon-shaped.
Today, we’d like to share it with you in full as a free PDF.
Truly, though, I can’t really explain Blueprints to you. It’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever written. (Since it’s weirder than anything I’ve written solo, my co-author Oren Nimni clearly deserves the blame for this.) It includes dozens of footnotes, a series of “aphorisms,” four appendices, and speculation on everything from public transit to elderly people to taxidermy to robot butlers. It has mad proposals for everything from “habitable capsules” to a “forest Congress.” Chapters include “The Necktie as Serpent” and “The Serpent as Necktie.” It also contains many unusual diagrams and illustrations, including a simple way of improving Volkswagens and an explanation of our beef with Žižek (who is cast as our nemesis in the book). The subtitle, Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, is plagiarized directly from Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope. (We thought Obama’s subtitle was so generic that nobody would ever notice if we lifted it. And they did not.) I truly believe that no book quite like it has ever been written.
Blueprints for a Sparkling Tomorrow never sold many copies, but it did once baffle Jordan Peterson. When I wrote my long article about him, I included an advertisement for Blueprints, saying that it was an excellent read for anyone who had enjoyed Peterson’s Maps of Meaning. I thought this was quite funny, because Maps of Meaning is exactly the sort of drivel that Blueprints was written to make fun of. (It even includes a part on what human beings can learn from lobsters!) Peterson, who is humorless, did not get the joke:
His followers then went on the book’s Amazon page and denounced it, giving it one star, calling it “typical neomarxist garbage” and encouraging shoppers to pick up Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life instead. (Do not do this.) More sensible and fair-minded reviewers, however, have said things like the following:
A friend at school recommended that I order this book advertising that it was one of the finest critiques of human folly that he had read to date. I was skeptical at first, but I was soon shown the error of my ways. This book is the epitome of what literature ought to do. It walks a fine line between parody and nonsense and in the process illuminates and rattles the underpinnings of conventional wisdom. Each chapter is a breath of fresh air that carries with it a new idea under the guise of witticism and allusion. The authors have managed to thoroughly inculcate me with their knowledge without my awareness because of the engaging style and peculiarly accessible format. I would recommend this to all those who want to laugh, learn and question that which surrounds us all.
Well! A ringing endorsement if ever there was one, I should say. A shame that Peterson’s followers never gave our work a chance, it might have changed their lives. But for you, the open-minded Current Affairs reader, the opportunity still awaits. Pick up the Blueprints and be transformed! And if you like it, please consider picking up a paperback copy that you can keep in your lavatory and refer to whenever necessary.