Sarah's Reviews > The Joke

The Joke by Milan Kundera
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's review
Apr 09, 2009

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Read in April, 2009

There's something about this book that reminds me of "Snow" - something about the author returning to his hometown after a lot of political and personal change has taken place, and trying to reconcile those incongruities. Or not trying to reconcile them, but taking them apart, and remarking on them, and looking at how they've influenced what's happened along the way.

He has some interesting things to say about the relationship between political culture and folk or art culture, and what it takes to get people to buy-in to one or the other. I think that one or the other or both genuinely appeals to some people, but the feeling that you should be able to present your proposed cultural change in each of a given set of vehicles (folk art, high art, traditions and ceremonies, etc.) is interesting and resonates with some of the issues I think come up in present day social marketing - trying to increase food access or decrease health disparities, for instance, by creating and promoting "healthy" takes on "traditional" recipes... I have certainly been part of lots of this in my own work, and I am on board with the underlying impetus, but I am also aware of the inherent problems with the top-down approach and the authenticity of it.
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