I find the lack of works cited somewhat problematic, but as all history of this sort is narrative anyhow (and narrative is functionally fictive), it's...moreI find the lack of works cited somewhat problematic, but as all history of this sort is narrative anyhow (and narrative is functionally fictive), it's only a matter of providing a passage toward how your own narratives were formed. The writing is very clear and engaging for material of this sort, and the underlying thesis--of the correlation between American and Russian imperialism--is well explored and I think spot on.
Absolutely hilarious how many reviewers here seem to be offended at the idea of America being imperialist. (It's also oligarchic). But I guess some delusions die hard.(less)
It was an interesting coincidence that the publisher for "The Hope We Seek" offered an ARC right around the time when my general research was leading...moreIt was an interesting coincidence that the publisher for "The Hope We Seek" offered an ARC right around the time when my general research was leading me back to the history and myth of the American West. This book fits very soundly within the current, as it is essentially an exploration of those symbols--mining, in some sense, for an American myth, rather than gold.
The prose is at its best when it describes the land itself as an outpouring of the human spirit; at times the craft actually reaches the sublime that the author is clearly reaching for throughout. However, the flip side of this is that at times it feels as though we aren't so much coming along on the journey as watching someone else's religious experience from afar. That goes a way toward saying that my experience of the book is that it isn't nearly as gripping or even interesting as it is good -- and this raises a big question for me of what "good" even means, in this context.
But that question will have to wait for another day. I applaud the effort invested in plumbing the shared psychological history of hope and loss which represents not only the best and worst of the West, but also all of our own personal journeys. That it doesn't seem to speak to the heart as much as it seeks, however earnest the effort seems, is the only flaw in what might otherwise be a five star effort. (less)
David Mack is one of the very few artist/authors that whenever I write about them it comes out almost fanboyish. The reason should be plain enough for...moreDavid Mack is one of the very few artist/authors that whenever I write about them it comes out almost fanboyish. The reason should be plain enough for anyone who has put in the energy to explore his work: it's really top rate, original (although you can certainly see many influences, nothing creative occurs in a vacuum), and you can see real humanity in all of it-- beauty, fragility, etc. Also, there are artists that you encounter or work with that are incredibly talented but make you feel a sort of despair towards your own work. I remember after reading Lolita (Nabokov) I wondered why I bother with prose at all. David's work, on the other hand, is generally inspirational. It asks you to dig a little deeper and find your voice. Which is really one of the greatest gifts an artist can give.
In a sense, this book is about running. In another sense, it's covertly about writing. (Especially novel writing, which is a beast I'm personally more...moreIn a sense, this book is about running. In another sense, it's covertly about writing. (Especially novel writing, which is a beast I'm personally more acquainted with than the running part.) In another sense, it's not really a book about either.
The truth is, I don't much care for running and I still enjoyed it. So that's something. (less)
I'd say this is one of the most useful guides on the subject I've encountered -- because it isn't a guide. With a few minor exceptions, it isn't some...moreI'd say this is one of the most useful guides on the subject I've encountered -- because it isn't a guide. With a few minor exceptions, it isn't some cutesy list of do's and dont's, because those things quite simply don't exist.
Every author, and every text, has its own demands, and the goal of writing (in the production stage anyway) is to satisfy those specific demands.
But to satisfy them you must first identify them, and in this is one of the greatest challenges. What IS "good" or "bad" writing? Everyone thinks they have a handle on that question, certainly every writer, and yet if you ask ten people you'll likely get eight different answers.
However "it's all a matter of opinion, maaan" gets you nowhere if you are faced with the task of editing. (Or writing, which is between five and nine 10ths editorial, depending on the writer.)
Susan Bell gets these subtleties. As such, she can't give you a single or simple answer, no one can. But we still have a practice that we can undergo to get, somehow, closer to the 'truth' in answering that question.
Of course, if you're a published author, don't be afraid if you suddenly have the urge to burn half your past work. I know I did. As she frequently implies, the relationship between editor and writer can be mirrored within ourselves, as the surety of writing is constantly doing battle with the slash, burn and re-planting of editorial.(less)
Though dated in several ways, this book nevertheless should be an absolute must-read for all people as they pass through their early 20s. It was a cen...moreThough dated in several ways, this book nevertheless should be an absolute must-read for all people as they pass through their early 20s. It was a central book in a class taught at my college, and I could see its influence in the people in that class then, and afterwards. It is quite simply the beginning of a long process: becoming ones self, on ones own terms. It is not final, nor do I think Bob intended it to be any other way.
It was also one of the things that convinced me that I needed to have Join My Cult! published with New Falcon, though that's likely neither here nor there for you, aside from the fact that it is likely to help you start to discover your own way, no matter how difficult that path may be. (less)
It is somewhat of a surprise to me, but this may be one of my favorite works of philosophy. The reason why is simple: Wittgenstein's Vienna studies th...moreIt is somewhat of a surprise to me, but this may be one of my favorite works of philosophy. The reason why is simple: Wittgenstein's Vienna studies the thought of a particular individual not just on its apparent ground, but also, and possibly more fundamentally, within the context of the culture and history in which it arose. This is something that should be done with many of the thinkers and artists of days past, but Wittgenstein in particular almost demands this treatment.
The proof of this is given in how much he has been misunderstood.
Let me give an example:
"A whole generation of disciples was able to take Wittgenstein as a positivist, because he has something of enormous importance in common with the positivists: he draws the line between what we can speak about and what we must remain silent about just as they do. The difference is only that they have nothing to be silent about. Positivism holds--and this is the essence--that what we can speak about is all that matters in life. Wittgenstein passionately believes that all that really matters in human life is precisely what, in his view, we must remain silent about!" - Paul Engelmann.
I think it has more to do with my stance than some great intellect or anything that my initial reading of the Tractatus -- which in detail I barely understood upon first reading -- is in fact what Wittgenstein had intended, and precisely what many smarter and more famous individuals than myself had completely misunderstood. The last section of the book, which people like Russell though was a sort of throwaway addendum, is in fact the very heart of the matter. And W's later work (touched on in the posthumous Discourses) is not so much a departure from his earlier thought as a clarification about language, which does throw a serious curveball in regard to the demarcation between that-which-can-be-spoken and that-which-must-be-passed-over-in-silence.
The Tractutus, in other words, is essentially not a work on logic and language, but rather a work on ethics/value/meaning. This thesis is presented very well in Janik and Toulmin's book, and their methodology is such that it wound up being one of the central books in our first investigation of myth, "The Immanence of Myth." (Weaponized.) (less)
When I was a philosophy major undergrad, I wrote several essays, and ultimately my senior thesis, on a premise that is here much more elegantly presen...moreWhen I was a philosophy major undergrad, I wrote several essays, and ultimately my senior thesis, on a premise that is here much more elegantly presented by Stephen Hawking as Model-Dependent Realism. He obviously understands the underlying scientific models better than I do or ever will, though his snide comment that "philosophy is dead" is somewhat ironic considering that this book is essentially a piece of populist scientific philosophy. The most pressing issues for philosophy have changed in the places where the academy isn't still navel gazing, or stuck in Heidegger's lederhosen.
Anyway, enough about that. To the book. My point is that this book doesn't present anything especially new for those of us who have already filled our heads with Berkeley, Hume, Feynman, Einstein, and so on. But that doesn't mean that it isn't worth reading. To the contrary, it is one of the most elegant presentations of the intersection of science and philosophy meant for the public that I've yet encountered. Again with the irony of "philosophy is dead." (Wittgenstein made a similar pronouncement in the wake of his Tractatus. That was published ~1921.)
I highly suggest reading this book because elegance is, as Hawking states, one of the highest values for a theory aside from conforming with observation. I also suggest it because model-dependent realism is a more subtle, more accurate interpretation of relativism that should be burned into the minds of everyone that wishes to work in the sciences, or humanities for that matter. It is not a conclusion or an end point, but rather the starting point from which we can avoid a great deal of wasted effort and ink.
Marvin Harris argues with such an even-toned sense of consideration that he could probably make the outlandish seem plausible. However, that sort of r...moreMarvin Harris argues with such an even-toned sense of consideration that he could probably make the outlandish seem plausible. However, that sort of radical sophistry doesn't seem his aim in this work. Rather, he lays out the varied topics of cultural anthropology along with his thoughts on those matters in a casual way that eschews even the radical framing of his Cannibals and Kings. I found all of his points both worth making and quite possible, even if there is always plenty of room to be incorrect in such matters, no matter how sensible you may sound. (Nor how correct your argument may be -- nature observes no particular need to heed all elegant arguments.)
Regardless of the relative "age" of this book, it is still in my opinion a must-read in any introductory course (academic or otherwise) dealing with the issues of the overlap of culture, biology, evolution, and environment.
A useful introduction to the subject matter. I can't say that after having read it I had some revolution of how I approach marketing my work--and mayb...moreA useful introduction to the subject matter. I can't say that after having read it I had some revolution of how I approach marketing my work--and maybe because I've thought about these things quite a lot, and have been with the boom of the internet as communication and business medium almost from the beginning (at least to the general public), it mostly wasn't particularly new to ME. But I think it is a valuable book, and will likely be an eye-opener for those that approach marketing in the "traditional" way. Certainly this should be burned into the mind of the marketing department of every tedious B2B, MLM, & etc (less)
Once you get through the incredibly long introduction about how great Dentsu is, how much of an industry leader Dentsu is, how long Dentsu has been ar...moreOnce you get through the incredibly long introduction about how great Dentsu is, how much of an industry leader Dentsu is, how long Dentsu has been around, exactly why Dentsu is so great... and etc etc... this book actually has something of value to contribute. However, without the assets and industry penetration that Dentsu has, a lot of this information remains somewhat theoretical. At the same time, it does present the underlying methodology of transmedia production, from the standpoint of an advertising firm. As such, it may be a useful introduction to transmedia, even though that was not the intention of the book. (less)
Terrific work of magical realism. Yeah, yeah, I know. The cat. So troubling. And Murakami clearly has a thing about younger boys having sex with older...moreTerrific work of magical realism. Yeah, yeah, I know. The cat. So troubling. And Murakami clearly has a thing about younger boys having sex with older women. Get past it--works of this nature must operate on the principles of surrealism, which bubble up from the subconscious. Each other only has their own subconscious to work with, when you get down to it, archetypes aside. Much interesting cultural commentary thrown in there, as well. Like many of his books, you have to get at least 1/4 in to really catch the tune and let the rhythm carry you to the end. (less)
The only thing more sad than this book are the people who gave it anything less than four stars. You must have rocks in your chest instead of meat and...moreThe only thing more sad than this book are the people who gave it anything less than four stars. You must have rocks in your chest instead of meat and blood.
There's little I feel the need to say about this book except that it is beautiful, that you need to be open to it to allow it to grow in you, as you need to do with any book, and also the thing I said about rocks in your chest. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.
Murakami manages to keep the mind riveted in ways that I don't even fully understand. If most of these stories were pitched to me as an editor, I'd th...moreMurakami manages to keep the mind riveted in ways that I don't even fully understand. If most of these stories were pitched to me as an editor, I'd think they were somewhere between banal and stupidly fanciful in the way of a story that a seven year-old might tell. But in his hands, they're transfixing. They'd be transfiguring as well, except that sometimes he leaves you with so little to hold on to at the end of a piece that you're left just with a feeling like "what just happened?"
But then you come back to it a month or ten later and realize that it was transfiguring, and that oftentimes we are the last to know, when it comes to our own change. It is just more subtle than, say, an acid trip, which might grab your head and force you to look at what you'd rather not.
As a writer, I had long thought that the central method of the short story was the revealing, twist ending. "Everything was not as it seemed, but here's the big reveal." I'm happy I've had that illusion dispelled. In fact, with most of these stories, it's quite the opposite. Everything is not as you think it is, but you're left not with a revelation but rather a haunting feeling that won't go away. The depth of our uncertainty is itself unfathomable.
That is, maybe, one of the central themes in much of my own work, but it was only made clear when I had a mirror that let me "see around corners," in Jung's terms. That may seem like a leap for some, but you'll find that a Jungian reading of symbols is relevant for much of Murakami's surrealist ("magical") realism, as is discussed somewhat directly in his book Kafka On The Shore.
The bottom line is that if you are looking for a fascinating, troubling, deep look at banal reality, this is a great opportunity for it. (less)