Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New titles-The Lost Art of Reading- Nomad Codes- Castro on Obama

Just finished The Lost Art of Reading, a terrific essay on Why Books Matter in Distracted Time by David Ulin, book critic for the Los Angeles Times.It's a brilliant take on how language collapses the distancebetween us and the author and brings us into the thoughts and perception of the writers and lets us see the world through his/her eyes.And how the high speed world of the internet,e-mails and text messages interferes with focussed reading and creates new brain activity,also intellectual but of a different duration and pattern.
It's a take on how reading helps empathy and a coherent view of life,how the reader becomes the book and how linked software and other creative use of a technology that's here to stay may also improve the reading experience and not lose its empathic, communicative aspects.
But it's also a cri de coeur about the slower and deeper experiential aspects of the reading process and how important it is to preserve them as they restore time to us.The distracted, continually addictive and interrupted experience of bouncing between multiplatforms acts to prevent empathy and deeper understanding, says Ulin. A wonderful and encyclopedic piece of work-highly recommended.
Published by Sasquatch Books, Seattle.

Erik Davis, chronicler of Burning Man and author of the classic and brilliant Techgnosis: Myth, Magic and Mysticism in the Age of Information, a book which treats a subject similar to that of The Secret Life of Puppets, by Victoria Nelson, has a new collection of short pieces out, entitled Nomad Codes, published by Yeti Books. This is an eye-opening and provocative assemblage of pieces on everything from Lovecraft to Goa and Transvestite Spirit mediums in Myanmar,tantric psychedelia, the late Terence McKenna,heir to the Tim Leary role of chief guru of advanced plant consciousness in the US,Jack Spicer, Burning Man, and Avatar. Good stuff, some pieces better than others but well worth the trip.

Ocean Books, a small left-wing Australian publisher, now gives us Obama and the Empire by-- yes it's he- Fidel Castro, a series a of articles written by Castro, dated from May 2008 through June 2010 and published prior hereto perhaps only in Cuba.

Castro is obviously of two minds about Obama, acknowledging on the one hand his brilliance and powers of expression opening to a woder world, but also , as he puts it, his role as the head of an imperial empire seeking to stay afloat, while at the same time beingopposed by what he deems extreme right- wing forces.
Some interesting stuff here, particularly the sharpness of Castro's brain, whether or not one agrees with his political point of view.
Fidel may have suffered some major physical setbacks, but they haven't affected his rhetoric or his edginess.

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