An insider’s odyssey through counter-culturalism, consumerism, and the social surveillance state
In This All-at-Onceness, Julie Wittes Schlack takes us on a vivid, personal journey through the political and cultural movements that have shaped every generation from the Baby Boomers to the Parkland kids. She examines the unlikely and twisting relationship between idealism and engineering that has promised a future of progress and hope, but only occasionally delivered on it, and asks why. From the civil rights and ant-war movements to the birth of Second Wave feminism, from the wintery ‘70s to the shiny rise of corporate culture in the ‘80s, from the democratic early days of the Web to today’s social surveillance state, Wittes Schlack tells a story about idealistic energy and how it travels through time.
Personal and political, intimate and informative, bracing and comic, these linked essays take us to an abortion mill in rural Quebec, the Michigan home of numerous UFO sightings, an abandoned Shaker village, the dust-clogged air of garment sweatshops in Allentown, a philanthropic corporate breakfast, and a dystopian market research conference. They ask: Are we at the gates of the digital Promised Land? Or are we exiles wandering in the desert with only tweeting Kardashians for company?
A thoughtful, witty, and evocative recollection of a life and the convictions that energized it. —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Whether she is portraying the intimate mysteries of childhood or examining the tenacious realities of corporate culture, Julie Wittes Schlack writes beautifully and incisively about our human journey in modern times. This All-at-Onceness is an accumulating achievement, a thought-provoking meditation on the way time changes each of us, and technology changes all of us.
– Jane Brox, author of Silence: A Social History of One of the Least Understood Elements of our Lives
These essays are smart – intellectually ambitious and unrelentingly perceptive – but what really makes them stand out is how surprisingly beautiful they are, too, if beauty can be understood to encompass humor and wonder and tenderness and ferocity, and a tireless, urgent sense of search.
– Leah Hager Cohen, author of Strangers and Cousins
This book gives us not just a time-lapse look of a world wiring our nervous systems, but of a narrator who’s uncannily found herself deep inside the how and why. From McLuhan to moonwalks, satellite beaming to branding, This-All-at-Onceness is a walk on the wild side of the cultural psyche, its chaos of connections. Julie Wittes Schlack has a laser instinct for stories and the sharp, often mordantly funny, details that subtly reveal them. A must read.
– Alexandra Johnson, author of The Hidden Writer
You can read Julie’s interview with JewishBoston here.