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How to Disappear: Notes on Invisibility in a Time of Transparency
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How to Disappear: Notes on Invisibility in a Time of Transparency

3.31  ·  Rating details ·  224 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Vivid, surprising, and utterly timely, Akiko Busch's HOW TO DISAPPEAR explores the idea of invisibility in nature, art, and science, in search of a more joyful and peaceful way of living in today's increasingly surveilled and publicity-obsessed world

In our increasingly networked and image-saturated lives, the notion of disappearing has never been both more enchanting and
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published February 12th 2019 by Penguin Press
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3.31  · 
Rating details
 ·  224 ratings  ·  36 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Feb 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 5000-2019, lor-2019
Thoughts soon.
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
A series of essays disguised as a book with various feelings on the nature of self identity through our interactions with ourselves and others mixed in with some cutting edge science on invisibility cloaking while starting the book with children creating invisible friends for some obscure Freudian intentionality interpretation and ending with the Icelandic imaginary little people and how healthy that seems for them before having waxed poetically on the discovery of herself while scuba diving.

Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
SUCH an intelligent book, a beautifully written series of essays examining our relationship with the world, seen and unseen. Busch is a brainiac - her intellectual arsenal is so formidable that every other page sent me scurrying to look up a poet, a scientist, a volcanic rock, a particular coral, a picture book.
"Our most affecting experiences often have to do with a sense of psychic diminishment. The acceptance that each of us is a bead of mist in the weather of the world is what connects us mos
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
Really not at all what I thought this was going to be. It was like a collection of essays, the kind of essays I wrote at the last minute in university, where it was a few facts and quotations from studies and smart people, with some "deep thought" sentences to connect them. It just really didn't capture me at all and wasn't what I wanted to get out of this book. Disappointing.
Cam Mannino
Mar 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
The review in the NY Times that sent me looking for this book recommended that the reader would need to slow down to appreciate it. That was true for me - and very beneficial. I'm a former bookseller and learned years ago to read very quickly because of that. I had to cover a lot of territory to help my customers. So I had difficulty slowing down with this book initially and could only maintain that more leisurely pace with some effort - but I was rewarded whenever I could do so.

Akiko Busch jus
Mar 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Art by: NYT Book Review, Feb 18, 2019
A dozen essays. Of these, the introduction came closest to what I expected. Nonetheless, Akiko Busch touches on some interesting ideas throughout.

Visibility became the currency of our time, with success ratified by publicity, writes Busch in her introduction. Other people measure our lives by how they see us, not by what we do.

“Curating identity,” a novel phrase, refers to the self-promotion, personal branding and ability to create several profiles, viewed as commodities. And this cuts to the
Mar 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Interesting read - was not quite as deep an investigation into being invisible - wanting to hide - as I was expecting. I guess, I was hoping for a sense of what we hide, what we show, how we show up, our desires to be hidden, etc. It was interesting collection on identity, and how it becomes harder (and so maybe more 'radical' in the current social media world of being seen. But didn't really find any depth on our desires for secrets, being hidden, being unseen. Very eclectic references to art a ...more
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
I feel like I was misled by this title, as well as by the first few chapters. I assumed I was reading about the need to disconnect from social media, technology, etc. What I read was more about the need to disappear but more-so the science behind things actually disappearing.
There was a lot about how nature finds ways to disappear, and some on technology and the AR world. There was not so much a stress on the importance of disappearing, but a detailed account of how things have done just that i
Apr 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
I read this while I was teaching my daughter to write a paper for English. I explained to my daughter that writing should ideally unpack ideas for you, crack them open a bit, and maybe combine multiple ideas in fresh ways. That is also what I wanted from this book. This collection of essays gave example after example of what other people have said about invisibility but without unpacking or joining these disparate sources in any interesting way. Every time I thought she was going to get to somet ...more
Jonathan Tennis
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Exploring the idea of invisibility in nature, art, and science, in search of a more joyful and peaceful way of living in today's increasingly surveilled and publicity-obsessed world, this book was refreshing and eye opening. We’re constantly online and there is an effect this has on us. Really enjoyed this book and would recommend it to others.

“The overview effect is the term used in space exploration to define that cognitive shift that astronauts experience when they see the earth from outer s
Mar 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Some very valid points made, at times serving as a springboard for entries in my personal journal. However, the chapters/essays are often circuitous, and mining for such nuggets can be a tedious exercise.
Apr 20, 2019 added it
When a tenant was trying to describe a smell that emanated from her radiator when she turned it on, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could record a smell the way we take a picture or record sounds.” I immediately recognised that a system of recorded smells would be so prone to misuse. Invisibility has the same characteristics, at least, in one meaning of the word, as a power or force used to an end. Would it be somehow used for beneficial endeavors and not just sneaking into concerts, movi ...more
Jill Blevins
May 08, 2019 rated it liked it
This is one where I should really write a review, but I will because I want to remember something I figured out while reading this: disappearing sounds good if you want to escape from family, from the life you've created but hate, from people you can't stand, or from a mind-crushing job. Disappearing is awful when it's your mother in the throes of dementia. She is there but she is gone. That kind of disappearing renders the first definition of disappearing less compelling.

In the first version o
Juli Anna
Jun 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Invisibility is a concept I've always been fascinated by, and I was excited to come across this new book by Busch. The author touches on invisibility in many facets, including technology, social media, natural history, etc. The chapters read as loosely connected essays rather than a unified argument. I definitely enjoyed the multidisciplinary approach of this book, and Busch's own fascination with the subject reflects my own. However, I never find Busch's writing to be quite as lyrical as I hope ...more
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Most of what we think are the gems of human existence, things like love, gratitude, sacrifice, are unseen. This study and obsession with invisibility became fascinating to me towards the end of the book. I recommend this to anyone trying to find their place in the world, but then I'm someone who never uses their real name online. This book will not be for everyone, but it was for me and came at the right time. Topics ranging from internet presence to the Huldufólk in Iceland are explored, in dep ...more
Mar 30, 2019 rated it liked it
Bausch addresses the widespread ways in which inhabitants of the natural world disguise and adapt themselves to their surroundings for protection. Her descriptions of “losing herself” while diving in the ocean, ignored by the surrounding aquatic life, evokes both a sense of wonder and feelings of comfort and calm. In one essay, Bausch upends the disdain that many of us feel about the invisibility that we seem to accrue as we age, noting the benefit of being able to observe without being “seen.”

Geri Degruy
Apr 01, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5. Interesting book of essays examining invisibility in scientific, technological and personal ways. Perhaps the overriding theme is to embrace an inconspicuous life which means, at least in part, an inward life, an expression of the invisible life within. To embrace our world, our place in the world and the people around us. To not take ourselves so seriously and to see beyond self.

A quote of Francine du Plessix Gray expresses this well. "...acquire a deepened, inward gaze, or intensify our
Georgina Lara
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
How to Disappear is a collection of essays on the longing to disappear and the different ways that happens in our current world where our continuous presence is expected and demanded. I love reading essays on topics I'm fascinated by, it makes me feel like I have someone that shares my passion and gives me new perspectives when I have no one to talk to about it without seeming like a crazy person.

The essays were not exactly what I was expecting given the title and description but I still found
James Easterson
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Perhaps it is just me, my own impatience to complete a book, or my slow reading rate, my lack of concentration; whatever... but I had a difficult time connecting with this book except for bits and pieces. I felt a bit thrown off but the endless reference to someone else’s takes on the world. Just a difficult way to stumble through a book, although I know and understand what the author is saying for the most part.
Daniel Jewett
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
On Goodreads this book seems to have elicited a somewhat ambivalent response in a number of readers, a common criticism being that it was boring or tedious.

I did not find it so. It was for me, a read that required a number of pauses for contemplation, but I found it thoroughly enjoyable. I especially enjoyed Chapter Six, At the Identity Spa. I took some time to investigate a number of the artistic works that Busch references and found that process enjoyable as well.
Mar 25, 2019 rated it liked it
I never realized how much we disappear in our life. It starts as a child and continue after our death. Excellent essay how to learn to disappear and yet a lesson on the importance for each of us to standout among each other. This a book to make one think about who we are in a positive way. It is an enthusiastic book about being by not being.

Highly recommend!!
Apr 08, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I kept waiting for the author to desribe the merits of an inconspicuous life.
Too many anecdotal examples.
Much confusion between invisibility and inconspicuous.
I wish the book could have lived up to its Forward...but, sadly, it did not.
not a how-to for a digital detox but rather a dozen well-written, thoughtful essays on all aspects of invisibility (via silence, absence, diving!...many topics are explored). the concept is intriguing and the research and writing are top-notch. three and a half stars.
May 02, 2019 rated it liked it
A meditation on different kinds of invisibility, defined widely. Busch tells stories and uses discussions and literary references like Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak to consider the role of invisibility for individuals and society.
Apr 19, 2019 rated it liked it
I don’t see anything wrong with this book, but for some reason I just can’t concentrate on it and have to keep rereading paragraphs. Great concept, but more of a collection of notes writ dense than a narrative. I think I just read this when my heart needed fiction.
Carman Chew
May 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
While it was interesting to see how invisibility is applied to different areas, didn't really see what the point was
Jerry Yudelson
May 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Pretty much a collection of essays on only loosely related topics. The writing is fluid and intelligent.
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-book, e-book
very interesting...
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf, nonfiction
Every time I picked up this book I wanted to be doing something else and it didn't have the cohesion or originality to hold my attention.
Justin Pitt
Mar 15, 2019 rated it did not like it
Great idea, and a topic that needs addressing. Unfortunately, these essays - rambling, shifting, and often hard to follow - aren't it. I had to force myself to finish this.
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Akiko Busch has written about design and culture since 1979. She is the author of Geography of Home: Writings on Where We Live and The Uncommon Life of Common Objects: Essays on Design an the Everyday. Her most recent book of essays, Nine Ways to Cross a River, a collection of essays about swimming across American Rivers, was published in 2007 by Bloomsbury/USA. She was a contributing editor at Me ...more
“The impulse to escape notice is not about complacent isolation or senseless conformity, but about maintaining identity, propriety, autonomy, and voice. It is not about retreating from the digital world but about finding some genuine alternative to a life of perpetual display.” 0 likes
“She suggests, too, that our capacity for intimate relationships can depend on having this deep core of private awareness; and that acknowledging our unknown and unseen selves, and offering these up only when and if we choose, is essential to our ability to engage in close relationships. Valuing interior experience is vital to developing a sense of self, and how we reveal ourselves to the outside world has everything to do with how we stay out of view when we need to.” 0 likes
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