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Arguing with "Reality Hunger"

platano's picture

I was on the hunt to figure out how other people reacted to David Shield’s “Reality Hunger,” when I decided to identify for myself why this book was so hard to get through. For me, it wasn’t so much the fact that he didn’t cite the quotes, but that they seemed to have no overarching relation to each other. In class, my professor pointed out that maybe David Shields didn’t think that life was coherent, and thus gave us an appropriate portrayal of reality. However, we’ve been trained to look for coherence, and that’s what we tend to do when reading a book. To top it off, what we’re supposed to understand, once we’ve battled with the incoherence, is that great art makes us redefine our perceptions and ideas of what has been established before. Therefore, as frustrating as “Reality Hunger” might be, Shields has made us experience something that we might not have before.


Looking online, I found a video clip of Shields on “The Colbert Report” where Colbert ends up cutting out the last ten pages as instructed by Shields BUT tosses the rest of the book aside and keeps those ten “important” pages. One might think that that’s where the meat of his book lies, but I don’t think that’s true. There is a statement being made on art and appropriation that wouldn’t be evident from a simple compilation of quotes.


Apart from the video I also found a blog containing an interview with David Shields. In this interview, the blogger, Catherine Lacey, speaks about her experience reading the book. This person seems to have ‘played the game’ a lot better than Colbert, as she found herself arguing with the book.


(Blog Link:

(Colbert Link:



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