Quite magnificent. 150 dogs arrive in NYC with prosthetic hands, voice boxes and high intelligence. It's about them struggling with cultural differenc...moreQuite magnificent. 150 dogs arrive in NYC with prosthetic hands, voice boxes and high intelligence. It's about them struggling with cultural difference, their history in 19th century Germany and the Canadian north, and the meaning of their existence. It's beautifully written, thoroughly touching, and embodies something fundamental for me about what makes New York so important. (less)
A stunning little book. Its brutal violence and hypermasculinity wore on me, and it's nonlinearity might annoy a more conventional reader. But it has...moreA stunning little book. Its brutal violence and hypermasculinity wore on me, and it's nonlinearity might annoy a more conventional reader. But it has a tremendous amount to offer on the relationship between masculinity, empire, and domination. It follows one protagonist in two very different realities: in one, he is a communist labor organize at Farmer John's meat processing plant in Los Angeles in the 1940s; in the other, he is a commanding officer in the Aztec army battling Nazi Germany. In the later, Aztecs easily defeated the Spanish and went on to become a major imperial slave-holding socialist empire. In both worlds, he is a misogynist and an asshole; in both his world in saturated with violence. But he is a profoundly different person in each. In the tension of those differences and similarities Foster offers us a dense mediation on how empires build themselves on blood, how empire constitutes masculinities, and the ways masculinity functions on both sides of a relationship of exploitative domination.(less)
This is by far the best critique I've read of cultural appropriation. Root is absolutely merciless and cutting in identifying the ways neocolonialism,...moreThis is by far the best critique I've read of cultural appropriation. Root is absolutely merciless and cutting in identifying the ways neocolonialism, capitalism, and empire are built on the mass cannibalization of oppressed cultures, the devouring of the flesh of the oppressed. It's a tremendous book, and would I think needs to be taken very seriously in debates on colonial power and cultural exchange. She also offers a great deal about how empires are configured, drawing on Aztec cosmology to make perceptive insights into contemporary American domination.
I have a lot of ambivalence, however, with how critiques of cultural appropriation play out. While Root's critique is undeniable legitimate, I see a tremendous urgency in cross-cultural exchange, even imperfect exchange, in forging new strategies of anti-imperial resistance. However problematic, for example, my investment in Tibetan Buddhism has had a tremendous positive impact on everyone in my life.
My father read this when he was first politicizing. For years after, he would frequently look at a movie, clothing item, or passing comment and say "That seems like an example of cultural appropriation". It was amazing.(less)
Wow. A stellar book. It's an historical account of Zen Japanese Buddhists participating en mass in WWII imperialism, fascism, racism, militarism, and...moreWow. A stellar book. It's an historical account of Zen Japanese Buddhists participating en mass in WWII imperialism, fascism, racism, militarism, and horrific genocide. When I first read it, I was practicing in one of the Buddhist lineages implicated in its condemnations. An absolutely must-read for Buddhists across the board, for trying to think through how we will not go down this path of injustice. It is written by a Soto Zen Buddhist, and someone as implicated as most of us in the aftermath of the horror it documents.
It also tells the story of an inspiring and remarkable anarcho-communist Japanese Zen priest writing and organizing in the closing years of the 19th century, before his excommunication from the Soto clergy and execution by the Japanese state. Anarcho-communism (under that name) has a wonderful and rich history in Japan, and one that should be an inspiration and challenge to all Buddhists. (less)
experimental, deeply ironic, hipster novel about a guy in new york city and his adventures with sex and working for a global capitalist. it was insuff...moreexperimental, deeply ironic, hipster novel about a guy in new york city and his adventures with sex and working for a global capitalist. it was insufferably misogynistic, and i still don't buy the basic assumption of much of hipster culture that irony is an adequate excuse for being offensive.(less)
I've always had a certain disdain for Sontag. My understanding is she was quite closeted as a queer through most of her life, and was the subject of m...moreI've always had a certain disdain for Sontag. My understanding is she was quite closeted as a queer through most of her life, and was the subject of much criticism from the AIDS movements with which she also had many personal connections. AIDS and Its Metaphors has a very poor understanding of how thoroughly homophobia, racism, and poverty saturated every aspect of AIDS as a political and psychic construction. But it is beautifully written, and although very limited her core theses are helpful and valuable. Illness as Metaphor has a clearer thesis: illness is better dealt with it when we don't saturate it with metaphorical meanings. Referring to social problems as a cancer, helps no one and creates a deeply problematic discursive construction. I'd agree with that, and hadn't thought about it so directly.(less)
Anne Harris is wonderfully entertaining. I recommend this one frequently. It's about a dyke couple growing up in a working class community of laborers...moreAnne Harris is wonderfully entertaining. I recommend this one frequently. It's about a dyke couple growing up in a working class community of laborers in future Detroit. They're living in the aftermath of a vicious class war/union organizing campaign, surviving in one of the most dangerous industries around: vat diving. They don scuba gear and dive into genetically engineered growth pools. The material is highly toxic, and they all suffer from severe health problems. This follows one of their kids, a dyke punk kid, and her new mysterious friend with four arms. Quickly they are drawn into a corporate conspiracy involving the synthetic manufacture of women.
It's not the best written thing in the world; you have to have some love of genre fiction. But the writing is workable, and its rich themes of queers and workers battling corporate genetic manufacturers is absolutely delightful. I grew to really adore the protagonist. (less)
All of Haraway's books are brilliant and definitely worth reading. Probably the single most inspiring and powerful white feminist theorists of our tim...moreAll of Haraway's books are brilliant and definitely worth reading. Probably the single most inspiring and powerful white feminist theorists of our time. This book is best known for its classic essay playing with the notion of the cyborg as a feminist, revolutionary figure. Now the essay feels a bit dated, and doesn't compare to her later Modest Witness.
What makes Simians really interesting, though, is how it's a full arch of a brilliant philosophy in her growth, and transformation across highly volatile times for feminist theory. While many white (socialist and otherwise) feminists of the 1970s, faced with the crises of postmodernism and anti-racist critique from women of color, retreated farther into right-wing scary politics. Haraway, in the 70s, was a brilliant Marxist writing on biology on primatology. Simians includes some of these early essays. Then the 80s hit, and more essays offer her thoughtful, self-critical reflection on the neocolonial and racist currents of academic feminism, and a profound transformation in the face of postmodernism and post-structuralism. The end result is radiant, magnificent brilliance.
Simians follows this full arch, offering a powerful testimony to what real growth among academics could look like.(less)
Very strong recommendation for anyone interested in Buddhism. As a devout Buddhist practitioner and one committed to racial justice, this book is of t...moreVery strong recommendation for anyone interested in Buddhism. As a devout Buddhist practitioner and one committed to racial justice, this book is of tremendous importance. Racism, white supremacy, and white privilege are major problems in the authentic reception and practice of the dharma among convert Buddhists. This book has inspired a deepening national, multi-community discussions and organizing, including a people of color group in my own Shambhala Buddhist center. This book absolutely needs to get read and debating by all English-speaking Buddhists across differently racialized communities. I also hold the editor in a great deal of respect for her work. She provides a really good example of how one can be completely uncompromising in making a decisive, strategic, and cutting critique, and yet acting without aggression or hatred.
The actual essays are a mixed bag, as one could expect. While I think everyone should read it, I like some of the specific pieces more than others. We need a lot more anthologies just like this one, and a lot more books seriously thinking about Buddhism and racial justice together.
someone should explain to me why this book is likable. i was traveling in india, and found the main and only character to be utterly hateful, self-cen...moresomeone should explain to me why this book is likable. i was traveling in india, and found the main and only character to be utterly hateful, self-centered, amoral, and totally lacking in anything identifiable. i only got halfway through; maybe it improves. the thought that this book represents many westerners experiences in india (as stated by reviews others are writing) is shocking and deeply disturbing to me. maybe people like it for it's wit and cleverness? cleverness is grossly inadequate for me to feel a book worth reading.
there is a lot i love about charles de lint. faeries in cities bringing meaning, beauty and transformation to people's lives is a winning formula, and...morethere is a lot i love about charles de lint. faeries in cities bringing meaning, beauty and transformation to people's lives is a winning formula, and de lint has milked it for everything its worth. plus, i like his attempt at venturing into science fiction. svaha, unfortunately, just takes his typical faults a bit too far -- heavily appropriation of marginalized and colonized cultures, a general white liberal's deep confusion on the nature of white supremacy, and a sappy sentimentality. (less)
one of the many books widely adored by everyone except me. i found it really very, very dull. the character had no complexity, depth or emotional reso...moreone of the many books widely adored by everyone except me. i found it really very, very dull. the character had no complexity, depth or emotional resonance. the whole book is a problem-solving narrative in an extreme situation; a situation very far from anything anyone i will ever meet has ever dealt with. apparently, a lot of people find deep inspiration in the book's sense that all difficulties are workable. being able to work with a large tiger sharing your lifeboat, i would argue, has little or nothing to do with dealing with other people.(less)