Books! What are you currently reading or just finished?


#743

So what was your final thoughts on “Artists Re:Thinking the Blockchain?”


#744

Just finishing two books, “England’s Hidden Reverse” which @Szuumm a year ago was reading. While I came across the book via John Hubbard, I am a fan of the groups written about and Szuumm was correct that this is a fascinating book.

The other book is, “The Rise of Yeast” - sounds boring but is far from it. Who knew that we are in such a symbiotic relationship with yeast? From the obvious of being essential for beer and wine, great for making bread, they are also floating overhead up to more than 10 miles in the atmosphere to more than 2 miles below the sea. Some yeast eject a spore at over 30 miles per hour and due to their minuscule size generate 10’s of thousands of G’s on their trajectory. It’s a short read.


#745

Slade House is very much a spin-off of The Bone Clocks, which I had lots of fun with - more straight-up genre fiction, as you’ve identified, than his earlier novels, but fun. If you like SH, you’d probably enjoy Bone Clocks a lot.


#746

Good to hear! I was planning on reading that one eventually. I kept hearing that they were linked, but I’m not sure if that diminishes my enjoyment of Slade House. I ended up jumping on Slade first because it’s currently $2 on Kindle.

One of my friends in town highly recommends Thousand Autumns as well, so that’s on the list.


#747

Bone Clocks is really, really great.


#748

I quite liked The Bone Clocks and I haven’t read any other Mitchell book, so I might add this one to my list…


#749


#750

Thanks for reminding me of this! All of these groups were formative for me in the early 1990’s. By the book’s publication in 2003 I had mostly abandoned these interests; except today I find myself approaching this, shall we say “mix of disciplines” in perhaps much the same way, just with different cultural reference points. While I missed out on the first edition I’ve just ordered the 2014 updated edition and am looking forward to catching up. I think it will be inspiring.


#751

I’ve tried to read Dahlgren 2-3 times and always give up after 100 or so pages. I think Delaney has interesting ideas, but is a little too post-modern in his sensability for my personal taste (I’ve unsuccessfully tried a couple of his other novels, which I can’t remember the names of). A good friend swears by Dhalgren as a life changing experience, but I just can’t.


#752

I read Dhalgren all the way through, but it was a chore – I just didn’t get it, or like it.


#753

Ahahahah yes, i have already gotten distracted from it. But by the end of the summer. Maybe. Perhaps?


#754

Milsoz is so darn good.

This passage has stayed with me over many years, and will stay with me for many more:

“We learned so much, this you know well:
how, gradually, what could not be taken away
is taken. People, countrysides.
And the heart does not die when one thinks it should,
we smile, there is tea and bread on the table.”

Full poem here.


#755

I sat down on Sunday to read the recent buzz-getting, backlash inducing political book Democracy in Chains by Nancy MacLean. The primary narrative of the writing is a quasi-biographic look at the life and oeuvre of James M. Buchanan. From his depression-era upbringing in Gum, Tennessee to the fading of his academic star in the mid-late 1990s, the author presents a person that seems to have had an outsized (relative to his notoriety) influence on the way modern American Libertarians think about macroeconomics and market ethics. There are no exactly straight lines to draw, say, between the Buchanan and the Tea Party movement in 2009/10, but there are kernels of faith that seem to have born fruit in how the Conservative judicial movement has been oriented to abdication of jurisprudence in cases involving corporate personhood, market regulation, &c. From that point of view, one could be sympathetic to the idea that this movement is a “fifth column” assault on American democracy. However, I think it could be said that the entire Conservative and Neo-Liberal movements are each more to blame for poisoning the well of political discourse with ideas that “any government is bad government”, which sufficiently normalized to the point that anyone not chanting that mantra (gooble gobble!) loud enough is deemed a limp centrist or some other rank innuendo.

I find it fascinating, though, that the book has become a bit of a touch point for one to lay down their partisan markers on the Right and Left. Personally, I enjoyed it less as the Liberal campfire horror story that some seem to think it is meant to be and more as an academic analysis of the historical context according the subject’s own writings and their influence on certain American Libertarian activists. Unlike the authors of the linked Vox article, I think the references and copious footnotes in the ~100 pages of backmatter provide a solid place for one to look deeper into any particular claim being made. Despite the fair amount of research done, it is certainly not an iron clad case being made; not all of the conclusions reached are convincing. But I do think that it brings some of the ideas behind the rightward lurch of the past some fifty years, and for that it is worth a read.

As a small tangential criticism, the way that Tyler Cowen is presented is a bit less than generous. To be clear, I do not agree with Tyler Cowen on his reasons for optimism concerning the outcomes of a deregulated market economy, but I do think he communicates from a place of intellectual honesty that others in his circle willfully do not approach. I feel like her point could have been made more clearly on the way the ideas have percolated through academia, media, politicians, and back with the example of someone like Ron Paul who has occupied in some form or the other each of those spaces and has been a more popular figure spouting some of the same weak arguments.

My ultimate reaction to and takeaway from the book is that the current state of exchange and discourse is insufficient to undo most of the damage done by the shift to a blinkered, short-sighted view of the potential contained in American democratic institutions; at least it will not be fixed in my lifetime. That said, I came away feeling energized with a desire to enter into the public sphere and excise the mental rot, the social cancer that the people behind this intellectual fraud have inflicted. After all, why the hell has cultural and intellectual ground been ceded so that the Teds Cruz, Stephens Miller, and Mitchells McConnell have any political oxygen to breathe?


#756


#757

Been reading How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan and it’s incredibly fascinating - one of those non-fiction books that I just devour. As someone who has never and may never partake in psychedelics, it’s amazing to read about the many clinical trials and studies that have been going on in recent years. Psilocybin (the active compound in magic mushrooms) seems to have shown incredible promise in the treatment of numerous kinds of mental issues, including treating PTSD, cancer patients struggling with the idea of death, anxiety, depression, etc. oftentimes from a single guided session, with no need for any additional doses. Just completely shifts people’s perspectives in a profoundly positive way.

Future medical use aside, there were some ideas in the book that blew my mind, but which make total sense. So far the most interesting thought was pondering what our everyday consciousness, and what “reality” really is. We have this notion that our everyday sober consciousness gives us a perfect representation of “reality” and that drugs merely disrupt and distort this into some crazy delusion as a result of poisoning our brains, but recent studies into psychedelics seem to suggest the somewhat the opposite… When people taking LSD or psilocybin are monitored for brain activity, researchers found that brain activity was not increased or exploding in weird ways (which is what they expected based on what the experience is), but that instead there was a targeted decrease in activity around what’s called the Default Mode Network. One of the roles of the default mode network in the brain is that of regulation, essentially, maintaining and restricting sensory input to create a simple and stable representation of reality to the brain that best suits survival. It is also responsible for our perception of the past, present, and future, as well our perception of our own selves, our ego, etc.

I could go on and on but all this to say, if any of this sounds fascinating to you, check out this book!


#758

I haven’t yet gotten the book but there’s a very interesting interview with Michael Pollan by Erik Davis on his podcast, it certainly interested me in Pollan and his ideas:


#759

Oh flip! It’s out! 20 characters of woohoo!

Edit. Ah. Only ships on the 12th in the UK. Still. Preordered! Thanks for the reminder @mrsoundboyking


#760

Yeah he’s been going all over the place promoting it, it seems, and he’s a very good speaker, definitely made me interested.


#761

“Room To Dream” - the new David Lynch biography. So far it’s amazing.


#762

I’m revisiting Stanislaw Lem’s Imaginary Magnitude. It’s a book of just introductions, which is a very flavorsome concept all on it’s own, but the things he’s decided to write about and the way he’s done it are truly genius. I’ve just read a chapter about teaching bacteria how to write, and I’m onto a chapter about computer literature (“Bitic literature”).

Thinking about it, the density and imagination found in the chapters I’ve read so far remind me of Notable American Women by Ben Marcus in that it’s very hard to communicate to someone else what is actually going on since each “step” in the “narrative” is a new, imaginative concept that builds on the previous.

I LOVE stuff like this.

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