Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bibliophile: The Truth is Out There. Or Not. Whatever.

Take a page from my book by looking at the books on my page. Webpage, that is. It's time for Bibliophile.

Deleuze and Guattari's immanent ethics : theory, subjectivity, and duration / Tamsin Lorraine. Albany : State University of New York Press, c2011.
And here's this week's Deleuze and Guattari number. From what I can tell from the press description, Lorraine is arguing that Deleuze and Guattari's work can be applied to everyday life, ethical living, and, in particular, feminist approaches. Sounds fine, if that's your cup of tea.

Curious visions of modernity : enchantment, magic, and the sacred / David L. Martin. Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, c2011.
Martin looks at the various artifacts collected in and by figures of modernity, and argues that these artifacts show a slippage from the rationalist, Enlightenment view towards a fascination with magic and wonder. I don't really think that this is an unexpected finding; a lot of science is about pushing its edges to see what comes out. And something like rationalist thinking requires an opposite number to oppose it to. But the artifacts themselves would probably make for a pretty interesting discussion.

On London / Dickens. London : Hesperus Press, c2010.
Apparently, it's a collection of all the various things Dickens wrote about London. A number of years ago now, I was in a graduate course on Kent (the place) and spatial theory; I was assigned Dickens' "Great Expectations" and given the assignment to write on how Dickens uses space in general and London in particular. This book may have been helpful. If only there was some way to get it to 2006 Person of Con. I'll admit, call number wise, it's a little odd that it's in the history section rather than the literary section.

Sparta at war : strategy, tactics, and campaigns, 550-362 BC / Scott M. Rusch. Barnsley : Frontline Books, 2011.
Is this book about madness? No... THIS.... BOOK... IS.... ABOUT... SPARTA!

Conspiracy rising : conspiracy thinking and American public life / Martha F. Lee. Santa Barbara, Calif. : Praeger, c2011.
I like the concept here. Going from the table of contents, topics will include the Free Masons and 9-11. But what about the Kennedy assassination? Elvis sightings? Area 51? The Birthers? When you think about it, the history of the USA is really one big long list of conspiracy theories. It doesn't look like the book is big on theory, but if "you want to believe" or really, really don't, it might be worth reading.

Decade of dark humor : how comedy, irony, and satire shaped post-9/11 America / edited by Ted Gournelos and Viveca Greene. Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, c2011.
Continuing on depressing American topics, we have this book. Topics include The Daily Show, The Onion, The Colbert Report, Boondocks, Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, The Boondocks, Rescue Me, Farenheit 9/11, and South Park. You know, all the sources I use instead of actual news. (And while I'm not opposed to the message, let's admit it: the phrase "the temperature where freedom burns" is pretty much nonsense.)

Why should anyone buy from you? : earn customer trust to drive business success / Justin Basini. Harlow, England ; New York : Financial Times/Prentice Hall Pearson, 2011.
I originally read this title as "Why Should Anyone Buy You?" and imagined a how-to guide for indentured servitude.

Face-to-face communication over the internet : emotions in a web of culture, language and technology / [edited by] Arvid Kappas, Nicole C. Krämer. Cambridge, UK ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2011.
I always feel obligated to add at least one digital media-related study. The book includes chapters on visual, face-to-face based internet technology (think Skype), avatar communication, and emotional and visual cues in HCI (Human Computer Interaction). I suspect it's more social sciences oriented than I'm interested in, but it's one of those "I'm glad someone's doing it" sort of books for me.

Among the truthers : a journey through America's growing conspiracist underground / Jonathan Kay. 1st ed. New York : Harper, c2011.
Two American conspiracy books in one week. Perhaps it's part of some sinister retail plan. Kay's study is both more focused (looking at a single conspiracy theory, albeit a very broad one) and more personal than Lee's, as it's Kay's personal accounts after attending numerous Truther conferences, and conducting many interviews. The Globe and Mail review argues that the focus on how the Internet aided the spread of these messages is missing the point, and if we want to assess how the Truthers have changed discourse, "Look to yourself, not the Web, for the answer." Well, as any good McLuhanite could tell you, the form a message takes is important, and while it's easy to imagine the 9/11 conspiracy perpetuating without the Net to spread it (again, see the Kennedy assassination theories), it certainly wouldn't have unfolded in the same way. And the opposition between "real people" and "the Internet" is one of those mildly technophobic binaries that's bread and butter for the digital scholar.

Lazier murder : Prince Edward County, 1884. Sharpe, Robert J.
That's the 1884 murder of Peter Lazier, not a book on the lazy murdering techniques of the late 19th century. "Oh, I wanted to kill him, but his house is a half hour's ride by carriage, so I just strangled one of the servants instead."

Analyzing Mad men : critical essays on the television series / edited by Scott F. Stoddart. Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, c2011.
Just in time for season 5! Essays cover such topics as the show's subversion of classical American mythology and loyalty and conflict in the organization; melodrama and utopia; Every Woman is a Jackie or a Marilyn, and the Problematics of Nostalgia; Surface Realism and Deliberate Anachronism. If theoretical analysis of modern day interpretations of the 60s is your bag, then this book... fits in that bag? I never really got that metaphor.

Media mediocrity : waging war against science : how the television makes us stoopid! / Richard Zurawski. Black Point, N.S. : Fernwood Pub., c2011.
One of my pet peeves is how, from Big Bang Theory to Sherlock, Western pop culture continually seems to have this anti-intellectual bent. Unfortunately, it's a thin line between pet peeve and snobbish intellectual elitism. I try, dammit. And apparently, I've gotten up on my soapbox for nothing, because what the book is actually about is how television presents misleading or outright wrong scientific information.

Conspiracy films : a tour of dark places in the American conscious / Barna William Donovan. Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, c2011.
Seriously, there's a lot of conspiracy-based books out this week. Donovan adopts a decade-by-decade approach, covering The Manchurian Candidate, JFK, the Matrix, and the Da Vinci Code, to look at how entertainment capitalizes on our fascination with paranoia.

Galaxy is rated G : essays on children's science fiction film and television / edited by R.C. Neighbors and Sandy Rankin. Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, c2011.
Here's one that I'd find personally interesting. Topics include deviant bodies in Lilo & Stitch and Monsters Inc; Feminist Consciousness Raising in Monsters vs. Aliens (?); performing gender and romance in WALL-E; Buzz Lightyear and the refusal to believe; failure of utopia in Star Wars; Pluralistic discourse in Transformers; false nostalgia in Iron Giant; Dr. Who as British; Jetsons and patriarchy; Lost in Space and the Space Race. So yeah, a wide variety of topics and issues. Personally, I would have preferred to see a few more shows I'm familiar with, say Ben 10 (identity and transformation), or Gargoyles (portrayals of magic and science), but it's a good list.

From social butterfly to engaged citizen : urban informatics, social media, ubiquitous computing, and mobile technology to support citizen engagement / edited by Marcus Foth ... [et al.] ; epilogue by Judith Donath.
That's a mouthful of a title. Humanities scholarship in general seems to have an abiding interest in how digital technology can support "citizen engagement" so this collection definitely has an audience. Topics include social networking, locative-based interaction narratives, mobile phone use, and open-source possibilities. Interesting, if decidedly a touch utopian. It's particularly interesting that this book is placed with the technology section, rather than the digital, social section earlier.

Gröbner bases in commutative algebra / Viviana Ene, Jürgen Herzog. Providence, R.I. : American Mathematical Society, c2012.
My 2004 undergraduate research project was on Grobner bases. (Invariant Grobner bases, to be specific.) I couldn't tell you a single thing about them now. Such is the price of 7 years in the humanities. So it goes.

Cake couture : modern sugar-craft for the stylish baker. Buffalo, N.Y.. : Firefly Books, 2011. Dam, Annie.
This is listed between a book on vacuum deposition on films and a book on the nuclear arms race. I really don't understand how the Library of Congress classification works in the "T" section.

Casual game design [electronic resource] : designing play for the gamer in all of us / Gregory Trefry.
Game stuff always gets mentioned. Even if it's casual game design, a topic which prompts me to emit a preemptive derisive sigh. Actually, browsing through the table of contents, it looks like Trefry knows his stuff. We've got design principles, a history of casual gaming, and a stamp from IGDA, the International Game Developers' Assocation. I like that he seperates casual gaming genres into game mechanic principles. There's matching (Bejewelled, Snood), Sorting (Klondike and Spider Solitaire), Sorting (Mystery Case Files, Azada), Managing (Dinner Dash, Cake Mania), Hitting (Whack-A-Mole, Wii Tennis), Constructing (Tetris, Crayon Physics), Stacking (World of Goo, Jenga) and socializing (Rock Band, Guitar Hero). Even if the subject's not my favorite, I do appreciate the nuances he's bringing to the table and the recognition that not all casual games are created equal.

Leve[up arrow] up! [electronic resource] : the guide to great video game design / Scott Rogers.
All right, this doesn't leave me with a lot of enthusiasm for another video game design book, even a "great" one. An extremely cursory perusal suggests that the book is a handbook, designed to supplement readings in an undergraduate course on game design. It's extremely user-friendly (perhaps to the point of being dumbed down) and it certainly gets its point across.

What philosophy can tell you about your cat [electronic resource] / edited by Steven D. Hales.
If we weren't at the end of the list and I wasn't facing blogger's fatigue, I'd be all over this. As it is, best essay title goes to "Many Ways to Skin a Cat." I'm reasonably sure no cats were actually skinned in researching the essay.

And on that note, we've reached the end.
Later Days.

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