Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bibliophile: Can't Get No Satisficing

If you're here to read a Heidegger/fantasy literature mash-up, you're fresh out of luck; that was last post. This is Bibliophile. 

2300 items this week.  Let's do it.  Full disclosure: I just finished the last post an hour ago, so I'm a little blog-lagged (like jet-lagged, but with a higher chance of carpal tunnel syndrome). 

Truth by analysis : games, names, and philosophy / Colin McGinn.   Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, c2012.
 McGinn argues for the value of analysis, placing himself in opposition to the view that things like games have no explicit, expressible set of sufficient and necessary conditions, that names don't have definitions.  Philosophy does more than circulate it langauge--analysis examines reality.  My own disciplinary leanings tend to steer me away from the idea that anything can examine unmediated reality, but it's definitely an argument worth having.

Regimens of the mind : Boyle, Locke, and the early modern cultura animi tradition / Sorana Corneanu.   Chicago ; London : The University of Chicago Press, 2011.
I read this as "the early modern cultural anime tradition."  Now there's a book I'd like to see.

Chronopathologies : time and politics in Deleuze, Derrida, analytic philosophy, and phenomenology / Jack Reynolds.   Lanham, Md. : Lexington Books, c2012.
It's been so long since a Deleuze sighting.  I almost thought the academics had forgotten the French philosopher.  But no; these rhizomes have deep roots.  (If you understand the contradiction there, then you're probably this book's audience.)   The book is an overview of the struggle over differing philosophies of time between analytic philosophy, phenomenology, and poststructuralism.  Deleuze and Derrida are the representatives of the poststructural group, and John Rawls is the analytic philosophy go-to man.  Technically, I suppose, that means Rawls should have gotten billing as well, but I suppose Deleuze and Derrida are somewhat better known.

Serious games and edutainment applications / Minhua Ma, Andreas Oikonomou, Lakhmi C. Jain, editors.   London ; New York : Springer, c2011.
Look, an actual game studies book!  Well, sort of.  Edutainment is, at best, at the peripheral of game studies, and is generally more interested in subjects such as digital literacy and youth intellectual development.  As a gamer, I'm generally opposed to gamification, simply because it usually means taking a conventional game template and placing the facade of the subject over it.  On the other hand, I do have fond memories of playing everything from Oregon Trail to Odell Lake in the elementary school computer lab.  If the concept of the game itself is designed around the "learning subject," then a game can still work. Anyway, to the book at hand: weighing in at 500 pages, it's a rather weighty anthology.  I have to say, I don't recognize any of the scholars who contributed; it's not any of the big names in game studies.  Judging purely by the essay titles and number of authors, I'd say it's a social sciences approach to the subject--not that there's anything wrong with that.  Topics include students designing mods for Neverwinter Nights, a history and general discussion on serious games, and combining game worlds with mobile phones (do I hear an ARG description?). 

Spending advertising money in the digital age : how to navigate the media flow / Hamish Pringle and Jim Marshall.   London ; Philadelphia : Kogan Page, 2012.
 A "how-to" book on how companies can maximize their online advertising budget.  I always wonder who the audience is for books like this.  Larger companies presumably hire advertising firms to do this sort of thing for them.  I guess that means it's for the smaller companies, who generally have more to risk just  because their margins are thinner.  Pringle and Marshall seem to have experience in the field, and they recognize one of the prime parts of the new media environment, that user-generated content is now one the driving forces of media awareness.  This is the sort of book that becomes a historical artifact very, very quickly, but I suppose it might be useful to Internet-related advertising right now.

Digital futures for cultural and media studies / John Hartley.   Chichester, West Sussex, UK : Wiley-Blackwell, 2012.
 Hartley begins with the traditional communications model pioneered by Claude Shannon: sender - message -receiver.  This model came out of the age of mass production and mass media, taking into account the broadcast nature of television and the radio.  Now, with the advent of the digital, we need a more dialogical approach.  His book, essentially, is how cultural studies retools to take that new approach into account.  He's definitely taking some controversial (and maybe questionable) stances on the subject.  For example, he argues that Youtube shows the concept of the archive shifting from essence to probability, and that personal identity is a product of instant messaging, rather than the other way around.  It doesn't jump out as offering ideas that figures like Henry Jenkins haven't already presented, but there may be something there.  (Now there's a weak endorsement for you.)

Single women in popular culture : the limits of postfeminism / Anthea Taylor.   Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire : Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
Taylor looks at the way postfeminism, in a large-scale cultural sense, has affected current portrayals of the single woman.  Her pop culture artifacts of choice include Bridget Jones, reality shows, self-help books, and blogs on the subject of single women.  Admittedly, this is a long way from my subject area, but it's exactly the sort of thing I'd like to read for interest's sake, if I had the time.

Halfway through the list, and we haven't even got to the literature section.  That's unusual; it's more often the case that the listings are thicker at the low end, where the hard science listings reside.

Why Americans hate the media and how it matters / Jonathan M. Ladd.   Princeton : Princeton University Press, c2012. 
I remember reading the original Tintin stories years ago, and one of the striking elements of the stories is that Tintin is a pretty big celebrity, just by virtue of being a journalist.  Yes, Tintin's globetrotting is a far cry from the experience of real journalists in any point in history.  But it underscored the point that, once upon a time, the press was seen as a bastion of truth, composed of people who put themselves on the line to reveal that truth.  And we still see that, but pretty much only in movies about the past--see Good Night and Good Luck, for example.  Ladd, however, is arguing something entirely different, that media distrust arose as partisan politics in the states reached a fever pitch.  Now, you can't turn back the clock on the partisan escalation, but, he argues, you can use new technology to augment public knowledge in other ways.  Yeah, I've learned a lot in these past few days from podcasts.  did you know that Final Fantasy V was never released in North America?  Or maybe it was IV.  Or III.  Or some other game.  I wasn't really listening.

Re-covered rose : a case study in book cover design as intersemiotic translation / Marco Sonzogni.   Amsterdam ; Philadelphia : John Benjamins Pub. Co., c2011. 
This is one of those books that I don't necessarily want to read, but I'm glad someone wrote it.

Here comes the Bogeyman : exploring contemporary issues in writing for children / Andrew Melrose.   Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon ; New York : Routledge, 2012.
 A guide to writing for children.  Once again, my hopes for a scholarly dissection of Lemony Snickett's A Series of Unfortunate Events are raised, and dashed.

Reinvention of love : a novel / Helen Humphreys.
A historical fiction piece:  Charles Sainte-Beuve, 19th century journalist, tracks down the enigmatic Victor Hugo, to document his new prominence.  And then promptly starts an affair with Hugo's wife, as you do.  As a rule, I'm generally not that interested in historical fiction pieces, but it's head and shoulders above the other fiction selections up to this point.

Beatrice and Virgil : a novel / Yann Martel.   Edinburgh ; New York : Canongate, 2010.
And of course, immediately after, there's this.   It's Martel's metastory about the holocaust and his own experience as a writer.  It seems like rather well-trod area, but at least the review on Amazon  
seems well-written. 

Theory of conditional games / Wynn C. Stirling.   New York : Cambridge University Press, 2012.
 It's a discussion of game theory centering on the creation of interesting choices. It's formal mathematics game theory rather than game studies, but still interesting, for a very focused definition of interesting.  There's also a chapter called satisficing, a combination of satisfy and suffice.  I love it when mathematicians make up words.

Frigidity : an intellectual history / Peter Cryle, Alison Moore.   Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire ; New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
A study of the cultural portrayal of female fridigity in sexual relations for the past 400 years.  It's another book I'd read if I had time.  ...Apparently, I just want to spend my free time reading books about female sexuality.  ...Yeah.

And we're done.  That only took 3 hours.

Later Days.

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