I read one page per night, because this was just lukewarm enough to lull me to sleep. There were a few exciting passages, but not enough to justify anI read one page per night, because this was just lukewarm enough to lull me to sleep. There were a few exciting passages, but not enough to justify another 700 pages. In the end I felt like the author was lecturing me about the CLASSICS of LIT-RA-TURE. I liked the Tartarus descriptions and humans' fight against extinction, but more often than not I was groaning, "Ugh, not another Shakespearean sonnet from the mouth of robots."...more
whew. what a beast of a story. Would have given it 5 stars but for the stupid eye-rolling ending: an obvious lead-in to the *sequel* (which I wilDONE.
whew. what a beast of a story. Would have given it 5 stars but for the stupid eye-rolling ending: an obvious lead-in to the *sequel* (which I will not read on principle). But yeah, this book was good. I gobbled up all 700+ pages in a very short time (for me). The entire time I kept thinking "this is just a richer, more tightly plotted, and more techno-babble-y Lord of Light." In a phrase: Entertaining as hell!!!...more
0/5. I just don't understand this Cobain guy. He slams his Mead "The Spiral" notebook on a scanner bed, collects a check, and calls it a day. Not even0/5. I just don't understand this Cobain guy. He slams his Mead "The Spiral" notebook on a scanner bed, collects a check, and calls it a day. Not even inviting a pompous rock journalist to write an introduction. How am I supposed to know what he means by "THE OLD SCHOOL IS GOING DOWN FAST, FUCK FACE" without Kurt Loder voice overs to interpret for me? I sorta sense that he is angry at baby boomers. But I don't know why. What's wrong with recycling "Louie Louie" and "GeeEllOhArEyeAa" over and over again in their jammin' boomer songs? Hardly a reason to get your flannel in a twist, dude! Manly men also irritate Cobain, which means he must be some kind of feminist fairy. I know that Paglia lady saw his tiny emaciated body on stage and "worried for the future of rock music." I worry too. Real rock needs more costume changes, thrusting Robert Plant chests, and blue-jeaned Bruce Springsteen asses. The only way you're gonna enjoy this book is if you like people who had fresh ideas for their time, who troll corporate music tragically hard, who ponder the nature and purpose of art, who aren't afraid to hide their emotions, and who use every ounce of their 10th grade education to royally fuck up some bullshit. ...more
gawd, this book was amazing, fucking the heteropatriarchy on every single trashy page. Enjoyed reading Tea's epic struggle to prevent men from enteringawd, this book was amazing, fucking the heteropatriarchy on every single trashy page. Enjoyed reading Tea's epic struggle to prevent men from entering her body and soul while working as a prostitute. Profound stuff in here that only a working class queer woman could observe: "I hate it when people look at you like you're a whore and you actually are one. It makes me want to kick their teeth in." Tea doesn't accommodate, doesn't despair, doesn't relent, but also doesn't present herself and her girlfriends as triumphant demi-goddesses either. The art was also well done; I can't imagine the book without it....more
Wish I had time to write a better review. Let's just say this book saved my dissertation from disaster so many times. Siebers is truly forward-thinkinWish I had time to write a better review. Let's just say this book saved my dissertation from disaster so many times. Siebers is truly forward-thinking and revolutionary when it comes to thinking about the body. He's my #1 academic influence. I want to work with him after I graduate - IF I can muster enough courage to ask about a postdoc position....more
An exploration of the psychological toll of slavery wrapped inside a beautiful and eerie ghost story. I love how the memories unfolded like a patchworAn exploration of the psychological toll of slavery wrapped inside a beautiful and eerie ghost story. I love how the memories unfolded like a patchwork. The accolades Morrison received are well deserved; I can't imagine anyone else writing about infanticide and black families under slavery, and doing it without a single misstep. I don't understand why some people hate this book; are they just being contrary because its assigned in school?...more
very interesting political sociology, but I had to return it to the library before I could finish. Shlapentokh dissects particular aspects of Americanvery interesting political sociology, but I had to return it to the library before I could finish. Shlapentokh dissects particular aspects of American society to show how our political and social relationships (between rulers/the ruled) resemble those from feudal times. Recommended if you're sick of hearing people make stupid claims about how the Enlightenment, American Revolution, capitalism, ect changed "everything."...more
I said in my bio that I prefer books that would get me kicked out of debutate balls. This book would not. In fact, I can see how high society, old andI said in my bio that I prefer books that would get me kicked out of debutate balls. This book would not. In fact, I can see how high society, old and new, would embrace it on the justification that any story about Mississippi is "theirs." Stockett says as much in the conclusion: she defends Mississippi to any outsider who criticizes it. To paraphrase, it's a backwards shit hole, but it's "her" backwards shit hole. In that sentiment, there is a fine line between white guilt and white pride. Being from Mississippi myself, I know how little has changed since "three extraordinary women set off on a journey of personal transformation." Perhaps change is slow because white people treat stories about MS like comfort food.
As expected for a bestseller, this book has a sticky-sweet message. The film's tagline makes me want to barf ("Change begins with a whisper" puh-leeze.) Message white people will get out of The Help: love conquers all, even the colorline. Domestic work as a "profession" is fine as long as employers are nice (I put "profession" in quotes because its not a choice, it's a forced social/economic relationship. Even today's employers justify domestic work as a "stepping stone," when its something more like a caste). And it's the nasty racists who create racism.
The one thing I'll say about the book is this: the daily chores of household labor are interesting and well-written (I'll never forget Aibileen ironing all those pleats). I'll likely read more fiction books on the subject to compare. Hoping for a work that is less like a Starbucks frappuccino and more like a brew I screwed up at home but have to drink anyway. It will be darker, heavy with irony, and without saccharine. And I'll be sure to serve myself.
This is a very fair critique of evolutionary psychology. This book is easy enough to understand but complex enough to challenge you. I'm fascinated byThis is a very fair critique of evolutionary psychology. This book is easy enough to understand but complex enough to challenge you. I'm fascinated by the discipline war evolutionary psych appears to be launching against the field of psychology, sociology, and anthropology, and how evolutionary psychologists choose to use evolutionary theories, sociobiology, and cognitive psych in their research. Much of the debate gets to the heart of the social construction and practice of science. I'll come back to this review later as I read more on this topic....more
North Korea makes me so sad. Its people are just trying to get on like everyone else, but a ruthless psychopath deprives them of the most basic, fundaNorth Korea makes me so sad. Its people are just trying to get on like everyone else, but a ruthless psychopath deprives them of the most basic, fundamental needs and desires. This memoir brought several realizations to my doorstep:
One, people look for small things to make them happy; the extravagant wealth of the rich is all excess. Small happiness arrives after food/shelter/clothing needs are satisfied. When you aren't worrying about your next meal, you can enjoy something as simple as collecting fish or dancing. These small freedoms allow us to feel human. In Yodok, the gulag prison that author Kang Chol-Hwan lived in for 10 years, people were searching for a small slice of that happiness through their basic needs. For Chol-Hwan it was the view of the mountains surrounding the prison, the peacefulness of the forests he labored in, and a bit of stolen corn cob in a soup at the end of the day. It's these kinds of insights that make the book worth reading.
Two, North Korea isn't a state--it's a political party. I suppose this is why it seems so "cult-like" to us from the outside: the entire edifice of the country moves in lockstep with one person's agenda. In America, we have an ideological spectrum that exists separately from political party. Also, the Democrats don't force me to sing songs about great leader John F. Kennedy and the Republicans don't force me to get ultrasounds against my will (oh wait...hahahaha). In all seriousness, democracy is great because I can joke about such things without fearing for my life.
Similarly, North Korea isn't a state--it's one large prison. Chol-Hwan's insights on the famine of the 90's (which he did not experience) lead the reader to this conclusion. I thought of Chol-Hwan as a prisoner whose release into wider North Korean society would at least give him a modicum of freedom. Not so for him, and not so for those subjected to famine after he left the country.
Unfortunately this book suffers from some paradoxical marketing. The byline on the cover says "The terrifying memoir of life in North Korea that our nation's leaders want you to read." I bristle at that suggestion, actually. Here I am reading a book about a life under totalitarian rule, and another group of rulers (the American power elite) want me to do something for them? No thanks. It's almost as if our nation's leaders are saying "Just be happy with what you have here and shut the hell up." If anything this book has made me more skeptical of state power in all its forms.
While most of the book is written in a straight-forward style (almost too much so), what confused me, however, is President Bush's role as a character. Chol-Hwan had almost despaired in his human rights work because it seemed like America turned a blind eye to the North. He was emotionally relieved to find out that the president did "care." Here is what Bush did:
After reading The Aquariums of Pyongyang, Bush acted by writing a strongly worded letter to the international community, urging the world to withhold aid to the North as long as Jong-Il kept tinkering with nuclear material (old demand) AND throwing his citizens into concentration camps (new demand). As I understand it, this book is one reason why Bush's tenure has been more aggressive toward the North than any other presidency: he appeared to realize that nuclear testing wasn't the only concern.
Still, I can't shake the feeling that American leaders view human rights as secondary to, and separate from, their own political interests. Chol-Hwan says so himself about officialdom's tepid reaction to his own displacement: "From a human rights perspective, my case was shocking. Yet how many people really care about the fate of a refugee lost in China? Like every government in the world, the South Korean government acts on the basis of national interests. The way it handles refugee matters is no exception. Yet, to consider the plight of refugees exclusively as a matter of national interest amounts to neglecting the rights of individuals."
Moreover, its unsettling how Bush can claim to "care" about the plight of the North while simultaneously creating a human rights disaster in Iraq. Bush isn't Kim Jong-Il. But because he's not a raging psychopath, I expect that he would understand this contradiction and show/act on some...regret? Ironically, the Aquariums of Pyongyang recounts a life so extremely deprived of freedom that it puts the American brand of of human rights abuses (interventionist bombing excursions, assassinations, torture, Guantanamo-style gulags, and other secret prisons the US has built) in perspective: we don't abuse our own citizens, only citizens of other countries. Moreover, we tolerate abusive dictators when its convenient for us. I suppose the only hope in all this mess is a North Korean Spring...?...more