What are you reading right now?

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Postby OP ED » Sun Jan 15, 2017 1:36 am

The Museum of Lost Wonder. By Jeff Hoke.

My sister bought this for my birthday and delivered it to me today. It is kind of occult kind of satire. It's exactly the sort of stuff that I like best. It's almost like we were related or something.
Giustizia mosse il mio alto fattore:
fecemi la divina podestate,
la somma sapienza e 'l primo amore.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:18 pm

"A Burglar's Guide to the City," Geoff Manaugh. Breezy and enjoyable piece of work, went quick but left me with a lot to think about. Not precisely a manual for heists, definitely more of an architecture book, but fascinating.

"The Hidden Life of Trees," Peter Wohlleben. I was baffled by the tone at first, but finding out it's 1) translated from German and 2) written by a man who takes kids on tours of the forest for a living helped me compute and enjoy. A short book, and an even mix between gee-whiz poetry and sprinklings of research findings. Check out Stamets' Mycelium Running for a more detailed but less recent rundown.
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Re: What are you reading right now?

Postby identity » Fri Jan 20, 2017 2:59 am

One (of many) book(s) on the go right now—this one for light entertainment—is Jim Algie's Bizarre Thailand - Tales of Crime, Sex, and Black Magic.

This made me laugh:

For many of us aspiring writers and editors, the Thailand Times was a journalism school. It would not be hyperbole to call this the worst and most preposterous English daily that has ever existed anywhere. During the paper’s reign of errors from 1993 to 1998, one of the most famous was the front-page gaffe showing a photo from the gruesome Easter celebrations in the Philippines of a stand-in for a Roman centurion staring up at a surrogate Christ who is crucified on a wooden cross. The photo caption reads: ‘Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai chats with Foreign Minister Prasong Soonsiri during a break at parliament.’ The actual photo of the Thai politicians had the caption from the Philippines.

Because the majority of the Thai layout artists did not speak much English, these kinds of errors were common. On the features page I edited, they somehow managed to put the cover of a book written by the Pope upside down. No one mentioned the error. Even the head honchos and the staff did not read the paper. As far as I remember the only complaint we ever received was from a high-ranking minister in the government of Laos, who was in Bangkok for an economic forum. He was irate that the paper had referred to his government—this was a joke between two sub-editors that was supposed to be edited out—as the ‘Lao People’s Undemocratic Republic’.
He was disoriented in all three spheres.
Somnolence alternated with excitement.
When not in hell he was convinced he was in Eden.
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Re: What are you reading right now?

Postby chump » Fri Jan 20, 2017 9:33 am

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Postby stefano » Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:30 pm

Image

    The story of a search for a new art of living. How can one escape from work colleagues who are bores and from organisations that thrive on stress? What new priorities can people give to their private lives? When the romantic ideal is disappointing, how else can affections be cultivated? If only a few can become rich, what substitute is there for dropping out? If religions and nations disagree, what other outcomes are possible beyond strife or doubt? Where there is too little freedom, what is the alternative to rebellion? When so much is unpredictable, what can replace ambition?


I enjoyed that one, just finished it. Full of elements of lots of biographies going back a good 1,300 years, skating on themes that have essentially been common to all people whose basic needs are met. He doesn't pretend to have answers, but works through some big questions a bit of the way and makes the reader think about them. I'm glad I read it, well worth it.

Now on a book dictated to a French journalist by the Ivory Coast's former president Laurent Gbagbo, currently in a cell at The Hague after he was stitched up by current President Alassane Ouattara with the help of the French. Good read on the venal questions behind the headlines. Also on media stuff - any paper you read on the Ivory Coast will tell you that 'Gbagbo lost the election and refused to concede', but that's not what happened at all.
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Re: What are you reading right now?

Postby Wombaticus Rex » Fri Feb 10, 2017 10:06 pm

"Peddlers of Crisis," Jerry Sanders - very thorough but it was illuminating stuff. Source material for the early installations of this thread.

Also just ordered this puppy:

Elvis » Fri Feb 10, 2017 7:57 pm wrote:Thanks, Dada. Patterns of Culture is one of the greatest books I ever read. Ruth Benedict was brilliant, and is fun to read.
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Re: What are you reading right now?

Postby Elihu » Sat Feb 11, 2017 10:14 pm

Connecticut Yankee in King Aurthur's Court

"Lash me these dogs back to their kennels!"

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Postby Iamwhomiam » Mon Feb 13, 2017 2:53 pm

How I enjoyed that, Elihu. Notable for being the first time-travel novel written.
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Re: What are you reading right now?

Postby Freitag » Wed Mar 01, 2017 1:54 am

I just finished The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Fucking brilliant! I'm not sold on the idea but it sure blew me away.

Wikipedia:

Jaynes asserted that, until roughly the times written about in Homer's Iliad, humans did not generally have the self-awareness characteristic of consciousness as most people experience it today. Rather, the bicameral individual was guided by mental commands believed to be issued by external "gods" — commands which were recorded in ancient myths, legends and historical accounts. This is exemplified not only in the commands given to characters in ancient epics but also the very muses of Greek mythology which "sang" the poems: the ancients literally heard muses as the direct source of their music and poetry.


One reason I found it interesting is that I've heard voices before while waking from dreams, and it's the strangest feeling; I hear the voice but at the same time I'm aware it's coming from "me". I conceptualize something (in that hypnagogic way) and the voice will start verbalizing my thoughts. I've also heard beautiful songs that I know I've never heard in real life. Also, I have exploding head syndrome.

Anyway for anyone interested in consciousness I can't recommend it highly enough. I'm going to re-read the Old Testament now in a different light, considering that the authors may have all been basically schizophrenic. I bet it will make a lot more sense!
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Re: What are you reading right now?

Postby dada » Wed May 24, 2017 10:14 pm

I'm reading these at the same time. Not literally, of course. I read a bit of one, then another:

1. Towards a Poor Theatre
Jerzy Grotowski

"Ours then is a via negativa - not a collection of skills but an eradication of blocks.

...The process itself, though to some extent dependent upon concentration, confidence, exposure, and almost disappearance into the acting craft, is not voluntary. The requisite state of mind is a passive readiness to realize an active role, a state in which one does not "want to do that" but rather "resigns from not doing it."

Most of the actors at the Theatre Laboratory are just beginning to work toward the possibility of making such a process visible. In their daily work they do not concentrate on the spiritual technique but on the composition of the role, on the construction of form, on the expression of signs - i.e., on artifice. There is no contradiction between inner technique and artifice (articulation of a role by signs). We believe that a personal process which is not supported and expressed by a formal articulation and disciplined structuring of the role is not a release and will collapse in shapelessness."

https://monoskop.org/images/e/e2/Grotowski_Jerzy_Towards_a_Poor_Theatre_2002.pdf

2. Apocalyptic Spirituality: Treatises and Letters of Lactantius, Adso of Montier-En-Der, Joachim of Fiore, the Franciscan Spirituals, Savonarola
Bernard McGinn

"To prophesy is extremely difficult--especially about the future."

3. The Novices of Sais
Novalis (translated by Ralph Manheim)

Pretty little book.

"Anxiously, the novice listened to the crisscrossing voices. Each seemed to him right, and a strange confusion overcame his spirit. Little by little the inward tumult subsided, and a spirit of peace seemed to soar over the crashing dark waves, bringing a new courage and contemplative serenity to the young man's heart.

A merry youth with roses and ivy on his brow came leaping to the spot and saw him as he sat huddled in thought. "Why must you sulk and ponder?" he cried, "You are on the wrong track and will get nowhere..."

4. The Poverty of Philosophy
Karl Marx

Comedy relief.

5. From India to the Planet Mars: A Case of Multiple Personality with Imaginary Languages
Theodore Flournoy

1994 edition.

6. Illuminations
Walter Benjamin

7. An Experiment with Time
J.W.Dunne

wiki entry for the book: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Experiment_with_Time

Good food for thought. Asking the right questions, I think. Also, he's a fun writer.

This is the Studies in Consciousness/Russell Targ edition. I'll definitely be checking out the other books in this series.

8. The Heart of the Internet
Jacques Vallee

Available for free online here: http://www.jacquesvallee.net/heart_of_the_internet.html

Not really a fan of Vallee's writing style. But the book is a good reminder that the internet was designed to be anti-authoritarian at heart. Also gives a good overview of the whole phenomenon, useful for anyone who would like to shape the future of the internet.

And I think it shows how these highly educated, talented intellectuals could be just as naive as anyone. It reminds me of the psychedelic pioneers. LSD will save world, you know. How'd that work out? So now the internet will save the world. I feel like that Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka meme. 'Oh, the internet will save the world, you say? Really, tell me more..."

Hate to break it to you, wise academy, but there's no magic pill, no 'global electronic brain' that will save the world. These things are just appropriated by the culture industry. But I digress.

9. nDimensional Collapse Manipulations: Harnessing synchro-entanglement.
Xavier Youngblood

You will not find this one on the internet.
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Re: What are you reading right now?

Postby Freitag » Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:35 pm

A Secret History of Consciousness by Gary Lachman. He was the bass guitar player for the band Blondie, but also writes about mysticism and occultism. The book is brilliant so far. I'm enjoying it so much I'm going to buy the rest of his books after I'm finished.
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Re: What are you reading right now?

Postby dada » Mon Jan 15, 2018 6:18 pm

The Absence of Myth, writings on surrealism - Georges Bataille

Strolling down a dark alley, Bataille encounters surrealism sleeping peacefully in a doorway. Out of love, he beats it up and robs its boots. Being the nice guy that he is, he throws a few cigarettes in its lap before disappearing back into the shadows. Fun reading, if you care about that sort of thing.

-

Sufism and Surrealism - Adonis

Where Bataille's method is destructive, this book is constructive. While the destructive method is an attractive spectacle for the voyeur, like watching the car-crash that is the internet, the constructive is challenging, but also much more satisfying, rewarding the effort. You may actually learn something about surrealism in the comparison to sufism, will definitely learn about sufism in the comparison to surrealism. Adonis knows his subject from within, this isn't some 'publish or perish' professor of arab studies justifying his existence. I recommend.

-

Art and Revolution, writings on literature, politics and culture - Leon Trotsky

I usually like Trotsky's style, but this didn't grab me. The second half of the book, 'essays in literary criticism,' where he discusses specific authors and their works, I find a bit more interesting than the first half, but not much. He has the right idea, but the delivery is dry, unartistic and unrevolutionary. Not anti-revolutionary, but lacking any sense of newness. You've heard all this before, and written better. I don't know, maybe it's just me. meh, I shrug.

-

The Arcades Project - Walter Benjamin

Please stop mythologizing the man. Do yourself a favor and read his work. The Arcades Project is literary, it's a collection of garbage, it's modern art, it's space and time-bending. Forget your preconceived notions: This work is political and revolutionary precisely where it isn't. We're stuck in old ideas, while Benjamin is so far ahead it isn't even funny. This is why he's dangerous.

Jumping into The Arcades Project might be disorienting at first, like getting lost in a maze of warp zone pipes without a plumber. This is because Benjamin is thinking on tracks you've not yet tried. It will help to read 'Illuminations' and 'Reflections,' two smaller collections of his writings, first, to get an idea of the breadth of Benjamin's scope. You will not be disappointed.

==

Not reading now, but worthy of mention:

Limitless Mind, a guide to remote viewing and transformation of consciousness - Russell Targ
Psychic spy for the CIA finds god. Nice to read for the experimental data. Plus he's a real character. I like 'em.

Mind Over Matter, higher martial arts - Shi Ming
Tai Chi master writes about tai chi. No exercises or forms here, just a meta discussion. If you're 'questioning consciousness,' this little book will give you some fresh lines along which to question.

Make Your Own Damn Movie - Lloyd Kaufman
I love Lloyd, I hate Lloyd. Lloyd is transparent, Lloyd is complex. Lloyd is fucking funny as hell. From a sociological perspective, maybe the most important book you'll ever read.
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Re: What are you reading right now?

Postby Jerky » Sat Jan 27, 2018 12:13 pm

I just finished a very "deep" read of Eugene Thacker's In The Dust of This Planet in preparation for writing a multimedia concordance to go along with it. It's a short book, but took me weeks to fully reckon with, as it is relatively dense and requires at least some level of comfort with academic philosophy (at the undergraduate level, anyway) and a wide-ranging knowledge of horror culture spanning back to the late 1800s. I took 24 single-spaced pages of typed-out notes. When the concordance is up, I'll post it here.

Currently I'm reading a bunch of graphic novels and comic books, as well as Joris-Karl Huysmans' La-Bas (The Damned), which is a thinly fictionalized account of the Satanism scene in fin-de-sciecle Paris. The protagonist, Dutral, is a gentleman intellectual who has taken it upon himself to write the definitive history of Joan of Arc's erstwhile partner in combat (who also happens to be one of history's most notorious child murderers) Gilles de Rais, and his research leads him into some dark corners, both academic and real-world. I'm about half-way through and it's a lot of fun, but isn't quite as revolutionary or propulsive as his previous, more popular work, A Rebours (Against Nature), which became somewhat of a phenomenon in late 19th century Europe and the UK (Oscar Wilde used it as the prototype for the unspeakably evil "yellow book" in his Portrait of Dorian Grey). Regardless, and even tho I have yet to finish reading La-Bas, I feel that I can recommend both Huysmans books to RI's readers.

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Re: What are you reading right now?

Postby Jerky » Sat Jan 27, 2018 12:19 pm

This, from La-Bas, struck me as particularly relevant for the times.

The rules of money are precise and invariable. Money attracts money, money seeks to accumulate in the same places, money is naturally attracted to scoundrels and those who are entirely bereft of any talent. When, by an exception which proves the rule, money finds its way into the hands of a man who, though wealthy, is neither a miser nor has any murderous proclivities, it stands idle, incapable of creating a force for good, incapable of even making its way into charitable hands who would know how to employ it. One might almost say that it takes revenge for its misdirection, that it undergoes a voluntary paralysis whenever it enters into the possession of someone who is neither a born swindler nor a complete and utter dotard.

When, by some extraordinary chance, it strays into the home of a poor man, money behaves even more inexplicably. It defiles immediately what was clean, transforms even the chastest pauper into a monster of unbridled lust and, acting simultaneously on the body and the soul, instils in its possessor a base egoism, not to mention an overweening pride, which insists that he spends every penny on himself alone; it makes even the humblest arrogant, and turns the generous person into a skinflint. In one second, it changes every habit, upsets ever idea, transforms the most deep-seated passions.
Money is the greatest nutrient imaginable for sins of the worst kind, which in a sense it aids and abets. If one of the custodians of wealth so forgets himself as to bestow a boon or make a donation, it immediately gives rise to hatred in the breast of its recipient; by replacing avarice with ingratitude, the equilibrium is established again: a new sin is commissioned by every good deed which is committed.

But the real height of monstrosity is attained when money, hiding the splendour of its name under the dark veil of the word, calls itself capital. At that moment its action is no longer limited to individual incitations to theft and murder, but extends across the entire human race. With a single word capital grants monopolies, erects banks, corners markets, changes people’s lives, is capable of causing millions to starve to death.

And all the while that it does this, money is feeding on itself, growing fat and breeding in a bank vault; and the Two Worlds worship it on bended knee, melting with desire before it, as before a God.

Excerpt from La-Bas, by J.-K. Huysmans
(translated into English as The Damned),
Chapter 1, pp. 12/13
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Re: What are you reading right now?

Postby Gnomad » Tue Feb 06, 2018 12:20 pm

http://www.ynharari.com/book/sapiens/
"Homo sapiens rules the world because it is the only animal that can believe in things that exist purely in its own imagination, such as gods, states, money and human rights.

Starting from this provocative idea, Sapiens goes on to retell the history of our species from a completely fresh perspective. It explains that money is the most pluralistic system of mutual trust ever devised; that capitalism is the most successful religion ever invented; that the treatment of animals in modern agriculture is probably the worst crime in history; and that even though we are far more powerful than our ancient ancestors, we aren’t much happier."

http://hsperson.com/books/the-highly-sensitive-person/

"In her national bestseller, The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You, author Elaine Aron defines a distinct personality trait that affects as many as one out of every five people. According to Dr. Aron’s definition, the highly sensitive person (HSP) has a sensitive nervous system, is aware of subtleties in his/her surroundings, and is more easily overwhelmed when in a highly stimulating environment.

But the key quality is that, compared to the 80% without the trait, they process everything around them much more—reflect on it, elaborate on it, make associations. When this processing is not fully conscious, it surfaces as intuition. This represents a survival strategy found in a many species, always in a minority of its members."

And waiting for a reservation from the library, Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. Plus a ton of comics, been reading through all of Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo. http://www.usagiyojimbo.com/ One of my favorite comics :)
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