|>> || |
I haven't posted an update in a long time, so here goes:
>The Prague Cemetary by Umberto Eco - horrifyingly plausible recreation of the rise of anti-semitic thought in early modern Europe and a work of intensely curated style
>Poetics by Aristotle - reread as working through the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Surprisingly craft oriented book of theory that essentially created the formal discipline of literary theory.
>The Prince by Machiavelli - The invention of political science in under 120 pages. Also fascinating for contemporary analyses of Italian nationalist movements and figures of the period. Immensely perceptive treatment of political realities.
Twelfth Night by Shakespeare - fun gender swap comedy play, though a little more pointed and less humane than some of the Shakespeare I remember. Can't tell if it is a celebration or condemnation of the inevitability of our fallibility in the prusuit of happiness beyond our vanities.
>Incidents at the Shrine by Ben Okri - moving, occasionally funny, usually harrowing collection of short stories dealing with modern Nigeria and Nigerian expats. Explores variously the violences and intimacies of African (and General) life, and their interior effects on the soul that lives them.
>Exisitential Errands by Norman Mailer - Assortment of late 60s and 70s period nonfiction pieces including mostly essays and interviews. Some brilliant writing and original thought deeply marred by a tremendous ego. Sometimes fascinatingly original, sometimes infuriatingly dull. Am interested in checking out his fiction.
>The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun by Tolkien - Compelling and forceful original compositions based on Norse myth, poetry, and prose. Instructive and interesting scholarship as a bonus.
>Words of a Rebel by Peter Kropotkin - Energetic and mostly polemical early Anarchist political journalism and theory by one of the most important Anarchists theorists of all time. Come for the cocktails, stay for the molotovs.
>The Tempest by Shakespeare - a much more forgiving comedy than Twelfth Night. Seemed to be on the same side as it's flawed characters, and thus all of us flawed, imperfect beings (well, let's not get into Caliban, poor guy). "This isle is full of noises, sounds, and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not."
>The Sound and the Fury by Faulkner - not the earth shaking masterpiece that was Absalom, Absalom!, but a minor classic of its own. Beautiful, lurid, mean, gracious, honest, terribly sad. Exploration of the idiocies, romances, prides, and failures of the South and it's peoples as they struggle to live together in the legacy of primordial sin and fall.
>Discourse by David R. Howarth - Reread, but nonetheless a thorough and readable introduction to discourse theory as a methodology in the social sciences which critiques a number of approaches and offers a compelling view of its utility and scope.
>The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson - Caustic, humane, cynical, optimistic, and imperfect. Energetic and wandering by turns, it's a timely book to have read in trying to understand the legacy of American capitalism in Puerto Rico. Implies a trajectory if you're familiar with Thompson's later work.
>Radiant Action by Matt Hart - To borrow some phrasing from a review, it outlines a compelling ethos of radical compassion. A punk rock elegy for the kindnesses disappearing from our lives that might just give us the tools to reanimate them. Cathartic and musical.
>Radiant Companion by Matf Hart - Luminous, gracious, vicious poems. Illustrates life lived louder, loved, and in love. My favorite collection of poetry I've read this year.
>Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell - Compassionate, generous, and very readable. Lacks a bit of the poetry of the film due to it's more rigid structure, though still a virtuoso piece of stylistic experimentation. Deals perhaps more deeply with the themes of domination than the film, and perhaps also (just a little) less hopefully.
>Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard - Challenging piece of cultural critique and theory. Perceptive critique of the ideological vacuity and totality of neoliberalis post industrial Western capitalism and its malleable unrealities. Troubling and informative.
>The Reaver by Richard Lee Byers - Harmless and mostly rote D&D fiction. A bit of a shame to know that the novel line has ended given the energy generated by 5e.
>...Isms: Understanding Art by Stephen Little - Very surface level but useful introduction to movments within the visual arts from the very first stirrings of modernity unto the present day. Light reading, but instructive and useful reference material.
>Hamlet by Shakespeare - A masterpiece of human psychology. Needs to be read again, to work through the subtleties of its language and character.
>Brief Interviews With Hideous Men by David Foster Wallace - Horrendously sad, occasionally funny book that plumbs the depths of emotional and psychic anguish that we inflict upon others and ourselves. Deals extensively with problems of intimacy, authenticity, objectification, domination, and power.
Wampeters, Foma, & Granfalloons by Vonnegut - Readable if somewhat insubstantial collection of essays and other nonfiction prose by Vonnegut. A handful of really powerful pieces couched in lighter work. Vonnegut however always remains fundamentally humane and bitterly funny throughout. He was on the side of people.
>Simpatico by Sam Shepard - Confusing, lonely, sharp little play. Had low expectations based on reviews and was pleasantly surprised. Not as obviously important a text as something like Buried Child, but perceptive and darkly comic in its own way. A fairly ugly vision of American life.
>God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Vonnegut - A frighteningly sober look at the failure of American empathy couched in a goofy morality tale. Bitter, tender, and unflinching.
Surprise the World by Michael Frost - A Christian text intended to illustrate the importance of fostering 'missional habits' I read as part of a small group I was asked to attend. Useful text in some ways even for non-Christians in demonstrating the importance of fostering habits that propel you in loving ways into your community and outside your traditional interpersonal groups in accordance with whatever loving, humanist ethos you're living by.
>What Narcissism Means to Me by Tony Hoagland - An interesting collection of poetry that I found at times searingly intimate and reflective and at others vainly banal and wrongheaded. Will be reading more Hoagland, at any rate.
One-Dimensional Man by Herbet Marcus - Though a little dated in terms of its specific historicity, still a fascinating and gripping critique of the systems of domination omnipresent in techno-rational post-industrial societies (of all ideological flavors). Depressingly clairvoyant, but incredibly useful.
>Cat's Cradle by Vonnegut - A wandering middle slightly softens the blows of an otherwise original and scathing exploration of the supposedly amoral progressive techno-rational sciences and their fundamental inhumanity when not alloyed directly with some humanistic ends and means. Pitch black humor and deep, abiding cynicism about our ability to be better than we have consistently shown ourselves to be.
>Oleanna by David Mamet - Ambiguous and vital exploration of the boundaries of abuse, power, sex, and institutional roles. Nagging suspicion that I may be affording the play more credit than it deserves in terms of its true complexity, but was absolutely gripped while reading it. Hope my suspicions are incorrect and that it really is exactly as ambiguous as I could generously read it.
Am currently reading The Sacred Canopy by Peter Berger, which is about the sociology of religion and the way it functions to legitimate and co-construct cosmically significant guarantees of meaning upon socially constructed and historically contingent social realities.