Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There

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Brooks, David. Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000.

"Bobos" = bourgeois bohemians, and one of the things Bobos do, DB says, is try to reconcile such contradictions. "Strictly speaking, bohemianism is only the social manifestation of the romantic spirit," but DB uses the term "to refer to both the spirit and the manners and mores it produces" (67; ch. 2); part of the "spirit" part includes the Romantic image of the world as organic and flowing in what we will call a Dao-like way, as opposed to the mechanical and rigid world of the bourgeoisie (71; ch. 2). Reconciliation was prefigured in 1961 by "Jane Jacobs, Proto-Bobo" in her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities (123-27; ch. 3). "The planners who destroyed neighborhoods did not see" the "good life" in the "flux, diversity, and complexity" of working neighborhoods—a flux underlain by "an inner harmony"; the planners were blinded to what we'll call the Daoist nature of the street "because their conception of order was mechanical. The developers and Modernists like Le Corbusier [C-E Jeanneret] saw the city as a machine—'a factory for producing traffic' in one of Le Corbusier's phrases—and so. of course, they sought to reduce it to a mechanism that would be simple and repetitive," as embodied in public housing projects (126).

Unlike earlier Romantics, the Bobos of America's "educated classes" ca. 2000 CE accept the City and bourgeois technology, but without what Leo Marx called in The Machine in the Garden "the technological sublime" (Brooks 71; ch. 2—see below, this Category; see also under Literary Criticism). Bobos accept also the bureaucratic «machinery» of late capitalism but with a Jane-Jacobs inflection, trying to make business and life more organic. If Bobos are The New Upper Class of the USA, they may be flowing with the Zeitgeist in ways suggested by W. Gibson in the dance of Biz on the streets of the Sprawl in the Neuromancer series and, more problematically, embodying portions of the Eco-feminism championed in various works by Ursula K. Le Guin (see citations under Fiction).

RDE, Title, 27Aug19