There was a time when Umberto Eco meant the world to me. I was a young college student, flooded with the "brilliance" of the postmodernists, and eager to lap it up. But I always found it sort of funny, all this meta-thinking about meta-thinking, all these linguistic symbolisms and academizing of pop culture. I even remember a friend and I mocking the titles of our new university classes: "Towards realizing deconstructionist comprehensions of the French fry's representation in popular culture as a symbol of both deliciousness and death." '"The Popular Semiotics of "Is": "To be" in our political theater." You get the idea.
At any rate, Umberto Eco was often our voice of reason. He took the postmodern movement somewhere sensible. He made us laugh, he laughed at himself, told great tales, and he qualified what soon became a rampant nonsense-parade.
So I wanted to like his new book: "Turning Back the Clock: Hot wars and Media Populism." That's why I reviewed it in today's S.F. Chronicle Book Review. But things didn't go exactly as planned.
Have a read: "Eco takes critical look at war, Mel Gibson in 'Turning Back'," San Francisco Chronicle, December 16, 2007