Sunday, June 10, 2012

Bibilophile: Memory Places and the Velocity of Here

The gang's all here,
But don't get too chummy.
There's work to be done;
This is Bibliophile, dummy.

We've got 802 items this time round.  Let's make them proud.  Or something.  It's actually a rather different experience writing this post this week.  Because last week's post had to be done on a Tuesday, that means that a lot of the books I covered then are still on the new items list.  So that means it takes more effort for me to sort through the list and filter out those I've already addressed, but at the same time, there's less to say.  So it requires more work for me for a lesser result.  Ah, the trials and tribulations of a bibliophile.

 Memory of place : a phenomenology of the uncanny / Dylan Trigg.   Athens : Ohio University Press, c2012.
Trigg's book is a phenomenological-based study of how memory shapes our experience of place.  Given the subtitle, you may have guessed that he was using Freud, as the uncanny is associated pretty firmly with early psychoanalysis at this point (well, it's either psychoanalysis or the X-Men).  But Trigg is also willing to make use of an interesting mix of other sources---we'll see Merleau-Ponty and Bachelard, but also H. P. Lovecraft and J. G. Ballard.  I like the dip into fantastic portrayals of place.  At least, I assume that's why he's bringing them in.  Maybe he's just a big fantasy/sci-fi fan.  To be honest, I don't really know a lot about the uncanny, despite the books I've read on Freud, and Tzvetan Todorov's writing on the fantastic. It strikes me that if you're looking for a way to describe the experience of space, then the sublime might be more interesting.  There are a few approaches to the sublime, but Edmund Burke and Immanuel Kant both described it as seeing a place, especially a place in nature, and being absolutely overwhelmed by it. (I'm paraphrasing.)  It's an interesting idea, and it goes well with the fantasy books, especially those that delve into the more Lovecraft side of things--in fact, I once wrote a paper on the use of the sublime in Robin Hobb's Soldier Son series.  In terms of experience, you don't get any more intense than a total, overwhelming phenomenon that obliterates all other thought.  I suppose that's why it doesn't work well with Trigg; you really need thought to be in operation for memory to make much of an impact, even in the phenomenological sense of memory.

 Machinic unconscious : essays in schizoanalysis / Félix Guattari ; translated by Taylor Adkins.   Los Angeles, CA : Semiotext(e) ; Cambridge, Mass. : Distributed by the MIT Press, c2011.
Poor Guattari.  He is the Luigi to Deleuze's Mario.  Even the description of the book makes a point to mention that this is his "seminal solo book."  The subject (and that was probably a very poor choice of words) of the book is either noble or quixotic, or both, depending on how you view such things.  Guattari wants to detail how we can break away from the enslaving subjectivity of capitalism.  And he proposes a schizoanalytic approach, as the traditional pyschoanalysis has been co-opted by subjectivity as well.  The means of his task is a thorough investigation of the semiotics and subjectivity of Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time.  I've personally got my doubts about the appropriateness of the primary source for the stated task at hand, but knowing Guattari, it will at least be an interesting read.  

Global masculinities and manhood / edited by Ronald L Jackson, II and Murali Balaji ; foreword by Molefi K. Asante.   Urbana : University of Illinois Press, c2011.
This is one of those books I could swear I've already looked at, but it appears I didn't, so let's get to it.  Oh, I'm thinking of the Young Men in Uncertain Times anthology. Well, one of the differences between that text and this one is that this is a lot more explicitly region-based.  Topics include masculinity in sports, masculinity and homosexuality, and a look at masculinity in Istanbul, Jamaica, China, Aboriginals, Australians, Kenya, and Peru.  I'd be particularly interested in the masculinity and sports essay, myself.

Toward a history beyond borders : contentious issues in Sino-Japanese relations / edited by Daqing Yang ... [et al.].   Cambridge, Mass. : Published by the Harvard University Asia Center : Distributed by Harvard University Press, 2012.
I'm going to level with you--I chose this book because I wanted an excuse to look up why Sino- means Chinese.  It just doesn't make sense to me.  If we're using the way the Chinese refer to themselves, then shouldn't we do the same for the Japanese, and make it Sino-Nipponese relations? All right, so I looked it up: "Sino" comes from the Greek word Sinae which is conjectured to have come from the Arabian word Sin which may refer to Qin, as in, the Chinese Qin dynasty.  So it's less a word that Chinese people use to describe themselves than another Western word that we use because we can't really think of anything better.  I suppose it's catchier than Chinese-Japanese relations.  The term can be used to refer to Chinese history as a whole, or just the Qin dynasty, so I suppose it's particularly appropriate in this context.  I suspect the goal of this book is one that can't really be fully understood by a Canadian perspective, since our history with our border partner is much shorter, and involved less open warfare.  But I think we can appreciate the endeavor at work here.

Business at the speed of now : fire up your people, thrill your customers, and crush your competitors / John M. Bernard.   Hoboken, N.J. : Wiley, c2012. 
We keep getting these high octane business books.  I don't know who reads them, or who thinks they're a good idea.  Let's speak to the immediate issue: now is not a speed.  It is a time.  Allowing for poetic hyperbole, I suppose it's vaguely acceptable, but it still makes me cringe for some reason.  Amazon tells me that the book is frequently purchased with What Matters Now: How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation

Media convergence : networked digital media in everyday life / Graham Meikle, Sherman Young.   Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire ; New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
This book focuses on how everyday media such as Facebook, iTunes and Google can be understood in new ways for the 21st century through ideas of convergence. Key chapters explore the development of the internet, the rise of social media and the new opportunities for audiences to create, collaborate upon and share their own media.  I'm not seeing anything beyond the standard interpretation, to be honest.  The authors are British and Australian, respectively, so at least you're going to get a perspective a little outside of the standard American model.  Meikle and Young argue that media is converging along four paths: textual, in the combination and distribution of multimedia texts; social, in the rise of user-generated material and the social networks; technological, in the ability to make these transformations happen; and industrial, in the rise of tech industries and their merging with existing agencies.  Again, perfectly serviceable, but nothing here's wowing me.

Cyberspaces and global affairs / edited by Sean S. Costigan and Jake Perry.   Farnham, Surrey ; Burlington, VT : Ashgate, c2012.
Well, if one digital media-themed book doesn't do it, wait five minutes, and there'll be another one.  The general subject is pretty clear from the title, and the more specific approach seems to detailing how the academic area of international affairs is adapting to the digital.  "Cyberspace" seems to be a loose referent for digital in general, which is rarely a good sign.  (Usually, these days, cyberspace is reserved for issues that lean more towards the virtual reality/virtual world side of things, though that's not a firm rule.)  Sections include cyberwarfare, international diplomacy in an age of social networks, and the have and have nots in the digital world.  Again, nothing really grabs me, but the variety and number of the essays suggest to me that this may prove a little more interesting than Meikle and Young, though those two have an anthology-based book beat when it comes to a more sustained argument.

I spy : an alphabet in art / devised & selected by Lucy Micklethwait.   [London] : Collins, c1992.  
I thought this book might be interesting for my own research, which is on image and text combinations.   It's not really that at all.  Essentially, it's a series of famous paintings, each prefaced by the words "I spy...." and some shape that appears in the picture of the painting.  It's a very nice choice of paintings, from Andy Warhol to M. C. Escher, but the only "alphabet" here is a metaphoric one.  It's basically a book to introduce very young children to art.  It's fine if that's what you're looking for, but it's really not what I'm looking for.

It seems that over a dozen books have been added to the library's French literature collection this week; that's an unusually large increase for that subject area. That's interesting, right?  Sort of?

Syzygy / Louise Bak.   Montréal : DC Books, 2011.
  Syzygy is a fun word.  It's also got a place in videogame history, as it was the name originally chosen by Nolan Bushnell and Ted Dabney for their videogame company; it was taken, so they settled on Atari.  Bak, strangely enough, seems to be unaware of this history, and is instead referring to the earlier definition, a straight line configuration of three celestial bodies.  The description of Bak's book says that she "continues to reinvent the English language as a sharp and challenging post-modern argot," but I'll try not to hold that against her.  Her poetry is pretty good, actually: here's a link to three poems, for a sampling.

Impact of cartoon characters and front-of-package (FOP) nutrition information on parental perceptions of children's food products [electronic resource] / by Wiworn Sae Yang.  
 Someone wrote their graduate thesis on this subject.  I approve.

And that's it.  It does feel like slim pickings this time round, doesn't it?  Well, there will be new books next week.  See you then.

Later Days.

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