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Thread: What book are you currently reading?

  1. #141
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    I have The Mythic Dream and Ministry of the Future on my reading list. Buffalo For The Broken Heart sounds like something to add.

    I'm currently working on Haters: Harassment, Abuse, and Violence Online and Coyote America, which I've avoided because I just know I'll end up with an effin' HUGE bibliography of coyote-related material to dig into. I just finished a graphic novel, the updated version of Batman: Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. The layout and graphics are so lovely that I spent more time on the visuals than the story. The writing is by Grant Morrison, so it didn't disappoint. This is my favourite Joker so far: a man so far gone that he has no "core personality", as the text describes him. I do wish they'd done a bit more with the idea that some people's "only crime is madness" or something to that effect, since it reminded me of my thoughts on people with mental illnesses who end up incarcerated (and who probably shouldn't be; if anything, they'll become worse to others and to themselves). Edit: and the fact that psychiatric wards tend to be punitive toward the criminally insane and not really conducive to healing, at least in North America.

    I'm also reading a book on scientific writing. It sounds like a part-time job I'd enjoy, but would I want to make a living that way? Probably not. Too many moving pieces.
    Last edited by Coyote Jones; December 13th, 2020 at 09:57 PM.

  2. #142

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kisota View Post
    Finished Buffalo for the Broken Heart a while back, then got through The Great Gatsby and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

    Currently working on:
    Fahrenheit 451
    Animorphs series (book 9 I think?)
    The Witcher series - Blood of Elves
    A Confederacy of Dunces

    Fahrenheit 451 is one of my favorite classics.


    Heh, myself. I've been reading up on SQL injection attack methodology and techniques. ( White hat stuff, so no worries )

  3. #143

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    Always got a few things I'm steadily reading through.

    The main book I've been reading is Neville Chamberlain: A Biography. Uninspiring title, but you'd think a British prime minister and one of the most pivotal figures in 20th century history would have had more than 4 than biographies written in the last 80 years. One was written within months of his death in 1940, another in the early 1960's before Britain had its World War 2 files declassified, and in the early 1980''s which was part of a planned series but never got beyond volume 1 ending in 1929, and then, finally, the present book published by Routledge in 2016. It's not inaccurate to say that it's the first real biography of the man that's ever been done. It's a fascinating book, but too often becomes bogged down in the minutiae of Tory politics of the 1920's and 30's. Still, this is useful as reference material for the serious historical researcher. The author is a bit too invested in apologizing for Chamberlain for my tastes, but this is a small flaw: it's easy enough for any informed reader to come to their own view.

    Interwar and World War 2 history is very fascinating. The traditional narrative is something like this: Hitler knew exactly what he was doing and outlined a grand blueprint of his plans in Mein Kampf. The reality is that things developed along hugely contingent lines. It's surprising just how differently the war could have unfolded. Franco, the fascist dictator of Spain, committed to joining the Axis at Hendaye in exchange for certain modest territorial concessions(the return of Rousillon, a tiny border strip along the eastern border of France and Spain annexed by France in the 16th or 17th century) and Morocco, a French colonial posession. Hitler judged it imprudent to alienate the Vichy regime that ruled the unoccupied parts of defeated France in the hopes that it could eventually be enticed to join the Axis as a full partner. The Allies nearly blundered their way into a war with the Soviet Union in April 1940 with a planned movement of troops and materiel to Finland through Norway, which was at war with the Soviet Union. It could well have driven the Soviet Union into a formal alliance with Germany, and was only pre-empted by the fact of Hitler's sudden and surprisingly successful invasion of Norway. Popular history takes it for granted that a lot of things were the result of improvisation and unexpected coincidences, catastrophes, and successes.

    Then, just as now, the future seemed utterly uncertain.. I think it is important to study history not because the past is a guide to the present or the future, but because understanding the essentially contingent nature of the past and how things developed the way they did may give us more insight into how things are going. There is an irreducible aspect of human consciousness that makes pure determinism impossible, and beyond that, there are always so many factors that go into things that they can never be known in their entirety aside from in retrospect. I remember in the spring of 2016 sitting in a diner listening to my grandfather blather on about the glories of Donald Trump. This was before he was the Republican nominee. I could only roll my eyes. The possibility that he could become the nominee, much less president, was so absurd as to not be worth taking seriously, but in retrospect it's not so surprising.

    Also reading Mobilize!: Why Canada was unprepared for the Second World War, Plato's Theaetetus, and Read My Desire: Lacan against the Historicist. I try to keep a pretty high ratio of non-fiction to fiction, but the next time I try a novel it will be Balcony in the Forest by Julien Gracq. I know nothing about it, but the person who recommended it has always been right in predicting my tastes.
    "The first volume of the present publication has the aim of uncloaking these sheep, who take themselves and are taken for wolves; of showing how their bleating merely imitates in a philosophic form the conceptions of the German middle class; how the boasting of these philosophic commentators only mirrors the wretchedness of the real condition.." -Marx, The German Ideology

  4. #144
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    Man, was I ever wrong about the ending of Lives of the Monster Dogs. It's perfect. I don't know why I ever thought otherwise.

    I now own Kindle copies of the books Cheetah mentioned. I'll post again when I've read them.

    I'm busy with schoolwork right now, but I'm eager to dig into S.K. Robisch's Wolves and the Wolf Myth in American Literature. Oh, this is incredible. It covers everything wolf. From portrayals on totemist websites to novels by scientists to Cormac McCarthy to Jack London to werewolves to women who run with wolves, not in that order, all from a cutting intellectual viewpoint informed by philosophy. It's a physically heavy book. It's divided into parts:

    Part I: The Wolf Book (including "Intermediate Corporeality: The Average Wolf" and "Advanced Corporeality: Wolf Sign")

    Part II: The Ghost Wolf: A Mythic Historiography (including "The Sea Wolf: In Which a Wolf Crosses the Water")

    Part III: Werewolf, Wolf-Child, She-Wolf: Race, Class, and Gender Reconsidered

    Part IV: Big Sky Wolf

    I opened to a random page, 277. He's talking about wolves in World of Darkness. I opened to a different page, 136: a critical analysis of Fenris.

    If you like your books insightful, meaty, and worldview-changing, I'd suggest checking this one out, especially if you're keen on philosophy and literary deconstruction. It's not impenetrable to a non-academic audience, but it's also not lightweight. The author's mind is singularly ferocious and beautiful. I will never see wolves the same way again.

    Here's a sample I copy-scribed.

    Poststructuralism applies nonreferential language and semiotic reversal strategies that equate "reality" with "materiality" when convenient. It then defends such transpositions in the name of jouissance or "play" with the text. As a result, the nonhuman world is exiled to an unreachable, if only because imperceptible, status that renders it finally ineffectual, if not irrelevant. The very biosphere is then enthusiastically kept imperceptible through scholarly and experiential neglect, so that it disappears beneath the spread of anthropomorphism, the theory claims to have proven itself, creating its own evidence of "absence" by contributing to loss. To the Baudrillardian, the environment is merely a consumable plaything, and ecology an oppressive warning label stuck on the product by some faceless hegemonic (and by default American) manufacturer. The nonhuman world's agency and presence may certainly be incomprehensible to us (ask an ecologist), but they exist before, outside of, and beyond our invention. They infuse us and the tools of our invention. And they not only may be but must be approached, because we can't avoid them. We are always already present, in and with them.

    This is precisely why a study of the ghost wolf's role in literary discourse has to include poststructuralism's tendencies both to anthropocentrize and to render the physical apparitional. (p. 192)

    . . .

    This does not mean we invent the form of The Wolf; adamantly to the contrary, we always find that The Wolf, if it exists, is a mystery like any other god—an encoded faith—and we inherit it. We find that the world was once and could be full of individuals within a species, and that the form of The Wolf lives unattainable in that space between intraspecies behavior and individuality. So we must go to wolves, the real animals of the biosphere's own creation. The material world is the attainable, the form the unattainable. And if we cannot go to them, or if they do not come to us, then our burden is greater to understand how the real world functions outside our manipulations and exterminations, and perhaps the more important. At the very minimum, the base of ethics, we must let them live. Otherwise the wolf we imagine is only the shadow, the repressive warping of real wolves, and a notion that will come back on us with the energy of chaos and damage. We see the evidence of such repression and the shadow's activity now in our desperate efforts to return wolves and heal the land, just as we see it in our historic cruelty to them, just as we see it in our readings and applications of literature.

    The monstrous beast image is a manifestation of our inability to reconcile our inner, human selves with the outer, nonhuman world. For all of its symbolic value in Jungian analysis, the animal is not ultimately a symbol any more than a human psyche can be a symbol; symbols are tools of psyches, and wolves live. Indeed, Jung entertained the possibility that other animals could have, not just be, archetypes.

    What we have done to the wolf can be explained in large part through how we have handled its archetypal standing. Coleman's questions in Vicious about our motivations for torturing wolves are to a great degree answered when we see what we have done to the wolf in our minds in parallel relation to what we did to wolves with our hands, our guns and poisons, our traps and machines. The archetype explains the myriad ways we approached the real and mythic animal in such an explosion of natural and cultural chaos that we could not recover our senses for a thousand years, over the cascade of a thousand books, from the vantage points of a thousand actual plateaus.

    The more wolf images we find in American literature, the more we find them to be a fluctuating combination of wolves' real biological selves and the false intellectual constructs of a highly synthetic and uncomfortable fabric. Allow me to sustain the metaphor: This fantastic cloth was woven from Scandinavian, Celtic, Germanic, British, and French thread spun out of ancient Indo-European (particularly early southern Russian) legends that were themselves tailored to our human fantasy. The wolf transformed and transported over the Atlantic was not only draped over the shoulders of Nordic travelers, not only interlaced into the unconscious of the European mind, but also tied to those cultures' deepest collective consciousness—archetypal robes for mythic selves. After centuries of slow spellcraft and transmutation, what crossed the great sea to America was the World-Wolf, the Lupus Mundi, but only a fine thread was left of Fenris himself. The more efficacious, if more secret, symbol that crossed was Gleipnir, the rope. (pp. 200-201)
    I'm purchasing a hardcover copy even though I can borrow this indefinitely from my university library.
    Last edited by Coyote Jones; January 20th, 2021 at 12:39 AM.
    "To insult someone we call him 'bestial'. For deliberate cruelty and nature, 'human' might be the greater insult."
    — Isaac Asimov

  5. #145
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    Damn, sounds like an interesting one. I’m trying to mix it up with some more nonfiction type things, but I am working on a backlog of books I already have.

    Call me a plebeian, but I don’t really like to amass books without reading them. I also try mostly not to just keep books unless they are likely to be read or at least referenced in the future - otherwise, they’ve basically become REALLY HEAVY keepsakes. I think I am compelled to jettison such things because I’ve had to pack up my little car and move so much. On the plus side, it’s really fun to give books you like away to people who will read them.

    Anyway, as a result, I’m trying to read the books I have already amassed. I’m working on H is for Hawk, an austringer’s memoir. Finished Fahrenheit 451 and A Confederacy of Dunes. Have at least started Dracula.

    The Genius of Birds is eyeing me always from my bookshelf too, with its sharp scrub-jay peepers. I’ll have to get around to that one. I want to get through some of these before I go buying more books, even though Coyote America is something I’ve been itching to read for a while!!

  6. #146
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    I am all about amassing books that I plan to read in the upcoming year, usually one book per week. School keeps me busy, so I've set a goal for one (long, probably nonfiction) book every two weeks. My university grant was deposited today! I went on a small spending spree. Most of the books I purchase these days are Kindle editions.

    Kisota: Dracula is so good. I'm not normally a fan of vampire books, largely because of the level of sheer hand-stapled-to-forehead angst and all of these ridiculous pretty boys with NPD, but Let The Right One In was also excellent.

    You reminded me of a fun Twitter thread...

    "Yooo three vampire broads just ate a kidnapped child this book is a WILD ride"

    Lauren Walker of Truthout tweets Bram Stoker's Dracula.
    "To insult someone we call him 'bestial'. For deliberate cruelty and nature, 'human' might be the greater insult."
    — Isaac Asimov

  7. #147
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coyote Jones View Post
    I am all about amassing books that I plan to read in the upcoming year, usually one book per week. School keeps me busy, so I've set a goal for one (long, probably nonfiction) book every two weeks. My university grant was deposited today! I went on a small spending spree. Most of the books I purchase these days are Kindle editions.

    Kisota: Dracula is so good. I'm not normally a fan of vampire books, largely because of the level of sheer hand-stapled-to-forehead angst and all of these ridiculous pretty boys with NPD, but Let The Right One In was also excellent.

    You reminded me of a fun Twitter thread...

    "Yooo three vampire broads just ate a kidnapped child this book is a WILD ride"

    Lauren Walker of Truthout tweets Bram Stoker's Dracula.
    HAH, love it, I now have increased motivation to actually keep listening. I have the Audible version with Tim Curry and Alan Cummings - full cast. It’s famously good, but during my last long drives I just didn’t have the focus and listened to music all day instead.

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