I enjoyed reading Ready Player One, and might read it again. In reviewing it I'm somewhat divided.
The book is timely in the sense that we are now immeI enjoyed reading Ready Player One, and might read it again. In reviewing it I'm somewhat divided.
The book is timely in the sense that we are now immersed in a world of simulated experiences, and simulation is core to this book. Further, the author drills down into the concept by relating experiences of simulated simulation -- to wit, players within a simulated world playing simulated video games that also plunge them into simulated worlds.
The writer is highly informed in technology and relates a variety of technical issues quite clearly and capably, without being laborious or overly didactic.
The writing is standard narrative style, adequately executed, with an overall structure that is fairly predictable, although a sufficient number of surprises and indistinct foreshadowings were embedded within this structure to keep me interested.
It would have been interesting to see the author provide a simulated reading experience as well, or otherwise involve the reader in the simulations in a more direct way. For me the complete lack of any awareness at all of this kind of opportunity on the author's part is one thing that keeps Ready Player One from being a great book, and makes it merely another good book to add to the pile.
Whenever I read a book on literary theory or art criticism that was written in another language and translated into English, my first, usually regrettWhenever I read a book on literary theory or art criticism that was written in another language and translated into English, my first, usually regrettable, task is to discern where the author is really coming from. What's his purpose in writing this, what factors is he responding to, and what is it he's trying to get across? A strong grasp of the writing usually evades me until I have these questions settled at least somewhat.
You can say that that's the first problem for everybody with every such book written in English as well, but then you'd be downplaying the importance of the vernacular in communicating clearly about these subjects. An English-language author, and particularly one raised in America some time between the late 1950's and the early 1980's, shares a wealth of understoods with me. The communication is half-completed upon merely shaking hands. When such an English-language author takes on dense literary and art-critical subjects, the distance I must traverse in grasping the higher-level concepts being communicated, and in understanding the often esoteric terminology deployed, is not so great as to make the reading terribly laborious. This distance is further lessened by their ability, should they have it, to weave esoteric terminology and concepts, and academic literary constructs, within vernacular language.
The distance greatly expands when the author and translator were both born and raised in some distant country -- France, for example.
In books such as Dissensus, once I've succeeded in answering at some level the initial questions regarding the author's purpose, and usually on second read, my next task with such books is to suss out the translator. His choice of an English word in a certain situation is usually quite different from my choice in the identical situation. This also requires frequent re-reading, often at the sentence-by-sentence level.
After jumping through all these hoops I'm finally in a place, often by the third read, to solidly benefit from the book.
That's where I am with Dissensus right now. More to come...
I dislike and disagree with the author's use of the term 'metonymy'. All she really says in the first chapter or two, and then belabors for the rest oI dislike and disagree with the author's use of the term 'metonymy'. All she really says in the first chapter or two, and then belabors for the rest of the first half (haven't finished it yet) is that for some artists the artwork is a piece of the inner life of the artist and/or a larger mythical system.
The example the Aussie artist/author never stops beating on is Australian Aboriginal painting and its relationship to their mythology and creative purpose.
I get the distant connection between literary metonym and this model, I just find other words draw more direct routes between 'art object' and 'artist's inner life' and 'mythology' -- perhaps the most obvious being 'artifact.'
A brief interview with Robert Motherwell about Mark Rothko adds some historical interest but otherwise further underscores that author Denise Green is mired in the art of the last century. Her use of the words 'paint' and 'painting' oddly emphasized this slick colored substance in ways I as a lifelong user of paint found unsettling, imbuing it with a rather queasy magic.
The process she describes of removing objects from their natural context -- boat from water for example -- then drawing not a real boat but an idea of a boat (good) -- then adding context with crosshatching, communicates the sense that she thinks this is a really deep effective intelligent technique, when in reality it's pretty much out-of-the-drawer and likely was when she began doing this long ago.
Upshot: Old artist in Guggenheim collection seeks new relevance by inflating old idea with a different name, repetitive explanation, old interview with dead artist about an even deader artist, and a suggestion that metonym --> 'art object as actual piece of mythological/community connection or inner psychological purpose' is the direction art is heading.
If that's your bag, daddy-o, give it a read. ...more
OK I bagged this about 4/5 through. By that time I felt as though I'd gotten all I was going to get out of it.
The author spends an inordinate amountOK I bagged this about 4/5 through. By that time I felt as though I'd gotten all I was going to get out of it.
The author spends an inordinate amount of time correcting what he views as the mistakes of other anthropologists, mistakes that are not in the forefront of consideration for anyone who isn't also an anthropologist.
Meanwhile the author's intense focus on Darwin for pretty much every reference to adaptation is exhausting, considering that biologists have advanced so far beyond the basic ideas Darwin presented, building on his work. It begins to feel like Creationist arguments against evolution, which also focus intensively on Darwin to the ignorance of every great advance in evolution since the 19th century.
If EO Wilson is to be taken seriously, the author's Darwin-centered focus derives partly at least from what Wilson describes as the scattered and unfocused nature of anthropology as a field. If this is the case the author would have done well to approach this study more from a biological viewpoint.
As it stands the author draws a number of interesting and plausible connections between evolution and art near the beginning of the book, some of them fairly obvious. Then he pretty much riffs on those ideas throughout the remainder of the book in the portions he did not devote to beating his fellow anthropologists about the face and neck. ...more