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Mountain of Paradise

Reflections on the Emergence of Greater California as a World Civilization


Josef Chytry

Mountain of Paradise challenges conventional taxonomies of world civilizations by introducing a new and formidable candidate: the civilization of Greater California presently incubating as the evolution of California into a veritable «nation-state» or «world commonwealth» according to contemporary commentators and scholars. Through a series of reflective essays it clarifies the momentous implications of this claim by a thorough account of the genealogical origins of «California», permutation into its speculative moment of self-identity thanks to prolonged creative interchange with European thought and philosophy, advancement to status of a socio-economic powerhouse by the 1950s and 1960s, invention of distinctly Californian variants of political economy by the 1970s and 1980s, and present domination over regions formerly classified as «Greater California». In its range and originality Mountain of Paradise constitutes a robust contribution to current political, social, economic and global thematics.


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This inquiry began thanks to the initiation of Michael Bielicky in arranging an invitation for me to lecture on California civilization at the Center for Theoreti- cal Study at Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic, in 2003. Subsequently Peter Murphy generously agreed to publish a developed version of the lecture as “California Civilization” in a special issue of Thesis Eleven. Chapter 1 is a further version of the lecture and article. Once launched on the theme, I was grateful to be invited to present a paper at the annual conference of the Western Humanities Alliance at the University of Arizona in 2005 which was then published in a special issue of the Western Humanities Review as “Bordering the Civilization of Greater California: An Inquiry into Genealogy, Treaty-Making and Influence.” Chapter 2 is a fuller account of my paper and article. Particularly with its inclusion of Franz Werfel, Chapter 3 is a larger version of the article “California Civilization and European Speculative Thought: An Evolving Relationship” published in California History in 2008, for which I am particularly grateful for the illustrations provided for the publication version by Shelly Kale. Chapter 4 is largely based on my article “California Irredenta” published in History and Theory in 2011 thanks to Brian Fay. Finally, Chapter 5 stems from my participation in a Max Planck Institute work- shop on “emotional styles – communities and spaces” that was held in Berlin, Germany, in 2010. Thanks to Benno Gammerl, it was published as “Walt Disney and Emotional Environments: Interpreting...

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