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katenochaser comments on Superstimuli and the Collapse of Western Civilization - Less Wrong

60 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 16 March 2007 06:10PM

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Comment author: katenochaser 20 November 2010 05:27:30PM 4 points [-]

For a brilliant literary treatment of addiction, Western civilization, marketing, and technology (and the relationships among them), read David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. The book's action hinges upon a superstimulus to end all superstimuli--an obscure film (called Infinite Jest) so addictive that anyone who watches it inevitably becomes addicted and dies, passing up food, sleep, and sex in order to watch the film over and over again. Who knows--maybe the film's addictiveness was just an order of magnitude or two greater than that of WoW.

It's one of those books that is frequently mentioned in conversation but few read. But it's one of a small number of life-altering books that I think about every single day, without fail.

Comment author: gwern 20 November 2010 05:55:24PM 3 points [-]

What was life-altering about it? I read it and came away fairly disappointed. It seemed to have only shallow ideas and observations about addiction (worse than a mediocre LW post on akrasia), and its 'cleverness' demanded a great deal and gave little back. The best I can say about it is that it taught a little about tennis and professional sports, but Wallace treated that topic better in his nonfiction.