September 13, 2023

Jonathan Taplin, Nigel Smith to Discuss Metaverse, Mars, and Crypto at PPL Event

By Grace Roberts

Jonathan Taplin

Focusing on four specific schemes — the metaverse, cryptocurrency, space travel, and trans-humanism — Jonathan Taplin has written an exposé on the tactics he says four modern billionaires use to pull focus from more prevalent issues in our current economic, political, and moral climate.

Princeton professor Nigel Smith will join writer, film producer, and scholar Taplin to discuss Taplin’s new book The End of Reality: How Four Billionaires Are Selling a Fantasy Future, on Monday, September 25 in the Princeton Public Library Community Room. The 7 p.m. event is co-presented by Labyrinth Books with support from the Princeton University’s Humanities Council.

The book, recently published by Public Affairs, breaks down how billionaires Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Marc Andreesen, and Peter Thile (“The Four”) capitalize on economic instability in order to sell a fantasy future — featuring their products. Taplin, director emeritus of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California and professor at the USC Annenberg School in the field of international communication management and digital media entertainment, argues that, in reality, these “Technocrats” are performing some of the greatest con jobs of the 21st century, exponentially increasing their influence over both popular and practical culture.

Taplin’s decades of involvement with media and technology, combined with a financial literacy that comes from firsthand experience in the industry, give him a unique edge in understanding how media, tech, and finance moguls acquire
leverage and power, and how they use it.

In The End of Reality, Taplin sets out to construct a reform agenda that eliminates the strategies of “The Four” in favor of regenerative and sustainable economic growth, to ultimately promote a society that will benefit the majority of Americans, not an elite

Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, called The End of Reality “[a] vigorous polemic…. Persuasive and insightful, this cutting portrait of America’s slide toward oligarchy hits home.” 

Ken Auletta, author of Hollywood Ending, said that “Reading Taplin’s invigorating The End of Reality is akin to attending a huge outdoor feast. There is so much nourishment in his book, so much provocative thinking, so much vivid writing, so much thought that went into the book’s vast menu, that by the final page the reader is left in awe. Taplin is a delightful iconoclast and a daring thinker.”

A 1969 graduate of Princeton University, Taplin made a name for himself in the entertainment industry after getting his start as a tour manager for Bob Dylan and the Band. Known primarily for his work as a film producer, he produced Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets, documentaries such as The Last Waltz, and has earned numerous Oscar and Golden Globe nominations for his films. Later, Taplin became a Merrill Lynch executive, was a founder of video-on-demand service Intertainer, and acted as a broadband technology consultant to multiple foreign governments. He is the author of books including Move Fast and Break Things and The Magic Years: Scenes from a Rock and Roll Life.

Smith is the co-director of the Center for the Study of Books and Media at Princeton University, as well as the William and Annie S. Paton Foundation Professor of Ancient and Modern Literature. He has published extensively on a wide variety of authors and subjects, among them William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, John Donne, Frank Herbert, John Milton, Andrew Marvell, Thomas Hobbes, Margaret Cavendish, and Katherine Philips. His current work includes a study on the relationship between words and music.

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