Sunday, April 8, 2012

Bibliophile: the Cambridge Companion to Cambridge Companions

God, I need a drink.  And a nap.  And another drink.

This is Biblophile.

3700+ items this week.  Let's get to it.

The first thing of note is that the library has received a massive influx of e-books of the form Cambridge Companion to *insert name here*, all for famous philosophers.  The Stoics.  Galen.  Plotinus.  Duns Scotus.  Aquinas.   Ockham.  Montaigne.  Carnap.  Dewey.  William James.  Peirce.  Quine.  Bacon.  Hobbes.  Berkeley.  Hume.  Thomas Reid.  Adam Smith.  Bertrand Russell.  Malebranche.  Pascal. Rousseau.  Simone de Beauvoir.  Foucault.  Levinas.  Merleau-Ponty.  Sartre.  Leibniz.  Kent.  Hegel.  Adorno.  Schopenhauer.  Frege.  Habermas.  Heidegger.   HusserlMarx.  Nietzsche.  Wittgenstein. Spinoza.  Kierkegaard.    Aside from de Beauvoir, I think what this proves is that the Cambridge version of philosophy is very full of old white guys.

Deleuze and sex / edited by Frida Beckman.
The Deleuze book of the week.   It is actually part of a series of books on Deleuze, including everything from Deleuze and Geophilosophy to Deleuze and the Contemporary World.  I'd like to make some ironic comment about how Deleuze would react to discovering that he's basically created an economic niche, but I haven't really read enough of him to know what that reaction would be.  Is it still irony if you're trying for theoretical commentary and hit it only by chance?  Probably, but you have to have to work at it to sell it right.  ---And that's what they said about the Deleuze series!   ...I mentioned I need a nap, right?  Essays include examinations of disability, polysexuality, Spinoza, Kant, and the Uncanny.

Hello avatar : rise of the networked generation / B. Coleman.   Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, c2011
Coleman argues that what's new in the shift from analog to digital is the networked subject, the way our identity becomes an avatar, a gestalt of images, text, and multimedia.   One of Coleman's basic points is that while virtual and real world started as two separate things--you had rel life friends, and you had online friends--now, the ubiquity of access and connection means you can't really make the distinction anymore.  She's arguing that we need to view the digital as a combination of a space and a network,as the introduction by Clay Shirky describes.  I'm not sure about this book.  On the one hand, nothing's jumping out to me as particularly vital in terms of adding something new to the discussion. One of her main focuses, user creation and agency, has become such a buzz phrase for describing new media that it's lost a lot of meaning. At the same time, the space/network combination and recognition that we've moved beyond the "other space" designation says that she's at least starting from the right place to say something new.  The book includes several interviews, in-depth studies, and the history of embodied agents. 

Biologist's mistress : rethinking self-organization in art, literature, and nature / Victoria N. Alexander.   Litchfield Park, AZ : Emergent Publications, c2011.
From the title, this sounded like fun.  The "sexy" application of humanities to science-related items is generally the digital stuff, but biology is a growing area.  And I've just said sexy to describe a cross-disciplinary topic.  Let's just go with it.  The title comes from J. B. S. Haldane's quip, that teleology is the mistress that biology is involved with, but can't be seen with in public. And teleology, as Wikipedia informs the PhD Candidate, is the explanation of  phenomena by the purpose they serve rather than postulated causes.  So, effect over cause, I guess.  As you may imagine, it suffered a certain PR problem when Darwinism came to shine.  Alexander argues that teleology helps direct the artist, and combats extreme relativism and and anti-intellectualism.  I rather like the idea, but I guess it doesn't really have anything to do with biology, per se.

 Empathy : philosophical and psychological perspectives / edited by Amy Coplan and Peter Goldie. 
Envy  : theory and research / edited by Richard H. Smith.

These two items were side by side, which amused me.  As if someone were advising me to become more understanding of someone, then covet their big screen TV.  (Done and done.  Hello, roommate.)  They're both anthologies, so I can do a quick discussion of their highlights.  The cover of Empathy is a painting of Prometheus getting his liver torn out by a hawk, which I suppose is a good a starting place for creating empathy as any.  Essay topics include empathy via cognitive neuroscience, empathy and music, the affective relations between audiences and characters in popular fiction (that's a good one--why do Harry Potter fans become so concerned about Ron?  And why where comic book fans willing to kill Robin?), and, even though I have basically no idea what it's about, best title goes to "Empathy for the Devil" by Adam Morton.  The cover of Envy is three dogs on stools, with the ones on the side staring at a chihuahua.  In envy, I assume.  Topic include neuroanatomy of envy, psychoanalysis and envy, and culture and envy.  I suppose it shouldn't come as a surprise that the two subjects can be approached in a very similar manner.

...And now we have the Cambridge companions to the major religions as well.  Forgive me if I decline from doing the entire list.

Little soldiers : how Soviet children went to war, 1941-1945 / Olga Kucherenko.
Boys and girls in no man's land : English-Canadian children and the First World War.
These items were neither close together, nor, upon closer inspection, referring to the same war.  Still... children in battles, right?  That's.... a connection.   A really depressing one, actually.  I guess I could say something about focusing attention on these wars takes away awareness from children currently in wars, but comparing which mass battles irrevocably shattered the innocence of how many kids seems like a really depressing topic.  

And now it's the Cambridge companions to history.  From contemporary Ireland to the Aegan Bronze Age to African American slave narratives.

 Our library has also just gotten an influx of early 20th century pulp illustrated books.  I'm talking Buck Rogers of the 25th century: the interplanetary war with Venus; Dan Dunn, Secret Operative 48 and the border smugglers; and a 1937 Beasts of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs himself.  It's a cool set of books.  But after years of collecting all my books from holds at the front desk, picking up a non-circulating one seems daunting.  Travel down a flight of stairs, walk into a special room, and look for a book on the shelf?  No thank you, sir.  (Actually, I do this all the time.  But with a 1937 book, it feels different.)

Gender, health, and popular culture : historical perspectives / edited by Cheryl Krasnick Warsh.   Waterloo, Ont. : Wilfrid Laurier University Press, c2011.  
Pop culture is like a shiny object for my magpie brain.  ...I've been doing these entries while watching a Happy Endings marathon, and the language rubs off.  It's probably a good thing I wasn't watching Deadwood, or I'd be calling everyone... never mind.  The book!   It's got a nice range of topics including "childbirth advice in Victorian Australia and Cold War America, menstruation films, Canadian abortion tourism, the Pap smear, the Body Worlds exhibition, and fat liberation. Masculinity is explored among drunkards in antebellum Philadelphia and family memoirs during the 1980s AIDS epidemic." Health-related issues seem like a far cry from pop culture on a first glance, but the scope of this book really demonstrates how they permeate everything.  Even my own field of videogames is affected, with everything from addiction studies (which I hasten to add have been exceptionally nonconclusive) to body representations (try to find a fantasy-based game, for example, without a choice of PC with a six-pack).  

Digital cityscapes : merging digital and urban playspaces / edited by Adriana de Souza e Silva & Daniel M. Sutko.   New York : Peter Lang, c2009.
This entry is probably going to be the closest thing to game studies this week, unless the next entry, Bible word search puzzles, offers a lot more choices than it appears to.  The subtitle is pretty indicative of the topic: we're talking spatial games here, or mobile games, locative-games, and even a dash of ARG (although the focus here is on games that require physical locations, rather than games that require large scale cooperation).  The book is divided into three sections: theoretical approaches, design, and educational application.  My relation to locative games is... complicated.  On the negative side, I prefer less focused play when I venture outdoors--I'd rather explore on my own than follow a set of rules.  And when I do follow a set of rules, I'd prefer to do it from the comfort of my own home.  Plus, on the tech level, my phone is closer to the era of the telegraph than the era of the smart phone, so I don't really have the hardware to investigate this stuff first hand.  On the positive side, I can't deny that a locative-based game does really change your perspective on your surroundings and on what games mean, both of which are good things.  I don't recognize the
games named in the table of contents, but I do note that there are essays from Larris Hjorth and Frans Mayra.  The latter is an established ludologist, but I recognize them both because I'm currently reading books each has written for an undergraduate game course audience.  Small academic world, I guess.

 M.C. Escher pop-ups / Courtney Watson McCarthy: Thames & Hudson, 2011.
I have no idea exactly what this book really contains, but I hope it's exactly what it says in the description.  Because that would be amazing.  

Cambridge Companions hit economics, with guides to Hayek and Keynes. 

Creative people must be stopped : six ways we kill innovation (without even trying) / David A Owens.  1st ed.   San Francisco, Calif. : Jossey-Bass, c2012.
I hesitated before picking this one, since the title is so overtly provocative. But, well, it got me. It is, as you may expect, a pop business management book. Owens' basic argument is that people say they want innovation, and then put it under constraints so that it can't happen.  That's a premise I can appreciate.  Specifically, innovation is typically dampened by six types of constraints: individual, group, organizational, industry-wide, societal, or technological.  I'm guessing that as you go up the list, modifying the restraint becomes increasingly difficult.  And I entirely blame society for judging my Skittles and pizza pop diet.  I am an innovator!  

Burgher and the whore : prostitution in early modern Amsterdam / Lotte van de Pol ; translated by Liz Waters.
That's a catchy title.  You can never have too many burghers, and you can never... um, never mind. 

And here's the response to my previous observation that the Cambridge Companion series is top-heavy with testosterone: The Cambridge Companion to feminism in philosophy. That's twenty some male figures in philosophy, one book on feminism and philosophy. That sounds like an appropriate balance.  

Animal rites : American culture, the discourse of species, and posthumanist theory / Cary Wolfe ; foreword by W.J.T. Mitchell.   Chicago : University of Chicago Press, c2003.
 I know this book is very important in animal studies.  I'm not sure why it took the library is getting a copy now, given the 2003 publication date, but it's worth a read if it's your area of interest.  Not my area of interest, though.  Not unless the animals are fighting each other, ala Pokemon.  

Cambridge Companion to Leo Strauss,  Plato's Republic,  Machievelli, Hobbes's Leviathan, Tocqueville, Hannah Arendt.  Why didn't they appear earlier?  Ah, the paper thin line between philosophy and political science.  

When the gods changed : the death of Liberal Canada / Peter C. Newman.   Toronto : Random House Canada, c2011.
I suppose it's about time that books on this subject started hitting the scene.  And by "about time," I mean, last year, judging from the publication date.  First, I'm still partially convinced that "death" may be a little premature; it's still long enough till the next election that it's anyone's game.  Okay, it's probably Harper's game, but hope springs eternal.  And on the one hand, it's great to see the NDP finally being taken seriously.  On the other, if we accept the "death" of the Liberal Party, then I can't be entirely a fan; removing any major party from the field leaves Canadian politics in a rather polarized position, and that sort of two party opposition seems to have, ah, unfortunate side effects.  (that's me being tactful for American readers.  American readers who are interested in reading an entry on Canadian politics.  ...Yeah.)   Basically, the book is a historical account of the last election with a focus on the Liberal decline.  Newman has a very pessimistic view of the country's future under Conservative rule as well.  Join the club?

And the music section.  Cambridge Companion to Haydn, Bach, Bartok, Beethoven, Berg, Berlioz, Brahms, Benjamin Britten, Bruckner, John Cage, Chopin, Debussy, Elgar, Handel, Listz, Mahler, Mendelssohn, Monteverdi, Mozart, Ravel, Rossini, Schoenberg, Schubert (in fact, two Cambridge Companions to Schubert, one by Christopher H. Gibbs and one by Jennifer Shaw and Joseph Auner), Schumann, Sibelius, Shostakovich, Richard Strauss (not to be confused with Leo) Gilbert and Sullivan, Verdi, Wagner, Bob Dylan, the Beatles, conducting, the organ, the piano, the violin, the cello, brass instruments, the clarinet, the saxophone (overlapping with brass instruments), recorded music, the guitar, the string quartet, the orchestra, the concerto, electronic music,singing, nineteenth  century opera, grand opera, twentieth-century opera, the lied (which is a German art song), pop and rock,  jazz, and blues and gospel music.  Whew.  The scary thing is, we still have art and literature ahead.

 Artists re:thinking games / edited by Ruth Catlow, Marc Garrett and Corrado Morgana.   Liverpool : FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) : distributed by Liverpool University Press, 2010.
An anthology discussing how art intersects with the videogame, and games in general.  A work geared very much to my own interests, obviously.  I'm putting a hold on this one.   Mental note, etc.  Essays include critical play (Mary Flanagan, whose book on how meaningful art can be pursued in games I read last year), ludic interface, creative Kriegspeil  (AKA chess) interviewing Alex Galloway (whose book on Algorithmic Gaming is currently sitting on my to-read shelf), and essays on hacking and Tale of Tales (whose game The Path I utterly failed to convince any of my friends to play).  Yeah, I'll need to at least thumb through this one. I'll admit, at 87 pages, I'm a little worried it's a fluff piece, but we'll see.

Cambridge Companion count!  Let the terrible(terrible in terms of length) literary category begin.  We have the Cambridge Companion to : German Romanticism.   Chomsky.  Saussure.  Ancient rhetoric.  Greek and Roman novel.  Greek lyric.  Greek tragedy. Greek and Roman theatre.   Herodotus.  Homer.   Roman satire.  Horace.  Lucretius.  Ovid.  Tacidus.  Virgil.  Bede.  Twentieth-century Russian literature.  Classic Russian novel.  Dostoevskii.  Pushkin.  Tolstoy.  Chekhov.  Nabokov.  The African Novel.  Allegory.  Gay and lesbian writing.  Modernism.  European modernism.  Modernist women writers.  Utopian literature.  Feminist literary theory.    Narrative.  Medieval Romance.  Medieval women's writing.  Literature of the First World War (that's a temporal jump), the epic, the actress,literature on screen, medieval English theatre, British theatre 1730-1830, Victorian and Edwardian theatre, science fiction, medieval French literature, the French novel from 1800 to the present, Rabelais, Moliere, Voltaire, Baudelaire, Flaubert, Zola, Camus, Proust, Italian novel, Dante, Primo Levi, Spanish novel from 1600 to present, Cervantes, the Latin American novel, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, early modern women's writing, Old English literature, medieval English literature 1100-1500.  Arthurian Legend.  English Revolution.  War writing. English literature 1500-1600, English literature 1650-1740.  English literature 1740-1830.  British literature of the French Revolution in the 1790. British Romanticism.  English literature 1830-1914.  Fin de siecle.  Modernist novel.  Literature of World War II.  English Poets.  Sonnet.  English poetry from Donne to Marvell. Eighteen-century poetry.  British romantic poetry.  Victorian poetry. Twentieth-century English poetry.  British and Irish Poety: Hardy to Mahon.  Modernist poetry.    British and Irish women's poetry, English Renaissance tragedy,  English Restoration theatre, modern British playwrights, travel writing, English novelists, crime fiction, gothic fiction, 18th century novel, Victorian novel, twentieth century English novel, children's literature, Chaucer, John Donne (despite the fact that I'm pretty sure they cover him in English poetry from Donne to Marvell.  Presumably, this is a discussion of his sermons and devotions.  I'd read that.  Man could write a mean sermon.)  Spenser, Ben Jonson,  Christopher Marlowe, Shakespeare and popular culture, Shakespeare, Shakespearean comedy, Shakespeare's last plays, Shakespeare's history plays, Shakespearean tragedy, Shakespeare's poetry, Shakespeare on stage, Shakespeare on film, Aphra Behn, Frances Burney, Bunyan, Daniel Defoe, John Dryden, Henry Fielding, Samuel Johnson, Andrew Marvell, Milton, Alexander Pope, Laurence Sterne, Jonathan Swift, Jane Austen, William Blake, the Brontes, Byron, Coleridge, Wilkie Collins, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Elizabeth Gaskell, Thomas Hardy, Keats, Rudyard Kipling, George Bernard Shaw, Mary Shelley, J. M. Synge, Anthony Trollope, Oscar Wilde, Mary Wollstonecraft, Wordsworth, W. B. Yeats, W. H. Auden, Beckett, Joseph Conrad, E. M. Forster, David Bradshaw, James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence, C. S. Lewis, George Orwell, Virginia Woolf, Caryl Churchill, Brian Friel, David Hare, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, Harold Pinter, Salman Rushdie, Tom Stoppard, literature of London, contemporary Irish poetry, Irish drama, the Irish novel, Canadian literature, Margaret Atwood, Australian literature, nineteenth-century American women's writing, native American literature, Jewish American literature, African American women's literature, American modernism, literature of New York, literature of Los Angeles, nineteenth-century American poetry, American women playwrights, American travel writing, American crime fiction, American realism and naturalism, African American novel, Kate Chopin, Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James, Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, Willa Cather,  H. D. (Hilda DooLittle, who apparently can legitimately go by the initials HD), T. S. Eliot, Theodore Dreiser, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Frost, Hemingway, Arthur Miller, Eugene O'Neill, Erza Pound, Wallace Stevens, Edith Wharton, Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, Don DeLillo, Ralph Ellison, David Mamet, Descartes, Toni Morrison, Sylvia Plath, Philip Roth, Sam Shepard, John Updike, modern German novel, Goethe, Walter Benjamin, Brecht, Gunter Grass,Kafka, Thomas Mann, Rilke, Isben, August Strindberg.  And that's the list.  I feel like I've typed out the whole of English literary history. My hands hurt. 

 As if : modern enchantment and the literary prehistory of virtual reality / Michael Saler.   New York : Oxford University Press, c2012.
 Michael Saler argues that seemingly modern fan communities that use online universes and virtual worlds have a predecessor in earlier fictions such as Cthullu Mythos, Middle-Earth, and Sherlock Holmes.  It's roughly the same premise as the Third Person anthology by Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Pat Harrigan.  The difference is in the format--by its anthology nature.  Third Person could only look at its subjects very briefly, opting for diversity over depth.  By nature of being a more sustained study, this book can offer a more developed argument.  This is one of those book's I wouldn't mind checking, if I had the time.  (But don't take my word for it; check the review by Michael Cunningham for a very, very long argument in the book's favor.)

 Arrested development and philosophy : they've made a huge mistake / edited by Kristopher Phillips and J. Jeremy Wisnewski.   Hoboken, N.J. : Wiley, c2012.
Marry me! Topics include Happiness, Self-Knowledge and the Bluths, Kissing Cousins, Gob and the Wisdom of Bad Faith, Freudian Arrested Development, Dr Funke's 100 Percent Natural Good-Time Alienation Solution, Social Identity, "I Just Blue Myself": The use and abuse of language, I'm and personal identity, No Touching and brushes with treason (in the Solid as Iraq development), and I've Made a Huge Mistake: George Oscar Bluth Jr. and the Role of Error.  I hope this stands up to the high quality of such other pop culture/philosophy mash-ups as "I Link, Therefore I Am" and the "D'Oh! of Homer."

 Picturing Alyssa: a novel / Alison Lohans.   Toronto [Ont.] : Dundurn, c2011.
 YA book wherein the main character is transported back in time when she stares at a photograph from 1931.  And she has to decide whether life is better then, or now.  I have to say, I'd prefer the era with widespread electricity and civil rights.

 And then the Cambridge Companion science series.  The Cambridge companion to Galileo.  Newton.  Darwin.  Philosophy of biology.  "Origin of the Species." 

 How to present at meetings / edited by George M. Hall, Peter Neville Robinson.  3rd ed.   Chichester, West Sussex, UK : John Wiley & Sons, 2012.
 I thought at first the title was "How to be present at meetings," which is a much more minor skill.

 Triumph of the fungi : a rotten history / Nicholas P. Money.   Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2007.
Catchy title.

Between stillness and motion : film, photography, algorithms / edited by Eivind Røssaak.   Amsterdam : Amsterdam University Press, c2011.
 I've been looking for a book to update my photography theory knowledge.  Barthes' Camera Lucida is great, but cutting edge it is not.  Also, the book's current location is the stacks.  A new book, already placed in the stacks.  Never a chance to shine.  I will rescue it.  Yes.

...And that's a wrap.  Let's never do this again.  See you next week.

Later Days. 



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