Monday, February 18, 2013

Bibliophile: Breaking the Code at University of Victoria

“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.”
― Oscar Wilde

This is Bibliophile.

After the break, we'll be going to the University of Victoria.  They've got a lovely new titles page, and 488 new books last week.

I'd like to start by noting that the aforementioned titles page's own title is a little weird: It's WebVoyage holding, but with an accent over the a.  Huh. 

Event / Martin Heidegger ; translated by Richard Rojcewicz.
I don't think we've done any Heidegger in a while, bless his Nazi-collaborating heart.  (Cheap shot, I know.)  The Event is book 71 in a 102 book series collecting all of Heidegger's writing, which is... comprehensive, I'll give them that. This book is a self-critique of his earlier book, Contributions to Philosophy: Of the Event, which I have also not read.  Essentially, it's all about how the event is to be understood, how it ties to looking, showing, and self-manifestation, and, of course, like any self-respecting book on events, it includes the self-unveiling of gods.  I imagine just cataloging all the forms Zeus picked to seduce women alone takes a few pages.  It's a kind of long book at 336 pages, and from that description, it looks like the previous book Contributions is mandatory.  Not a book for everyone then, but for the die-hard Heideggerian--well, that's 71 down, 31 to go.

Schizoanalytic cartographies / Félix Guattari ; translated by Andrew Goffey.
It`s been a while since the last time Bibliophile looked at a Guattari solo project,
 Machinic unconscious : essays in schizoanalysis. Guattari does seem to love his Schizoanalysis, doesn't he? The book is about enunciation, what autonomous speech and self-expression means for subjects in the contemporary world. And it delves into information theory in order to describe humanity's new relationship with machines, one of reconciliation.  That could be interesting; the book was originally written in 1989, so it's obviously a bit out of touch with current tech trends, but given that Guattari is working from the Continental body of theory and somewhat afield from the usual bunch of technology scholars, he might have an interesting perspective. Quickly scanning discussion of the book online, I noticed that what comes up most often is that people have been waiting for this translation a long time.  So I guess it's a must read if you're into Guattari.

Smoke signals : the native takeback of North America's tobacco industry / Jim Poling Sr. 2012
Tobacco, like chocolate and corn, was one of the discoveries of the New World that the Europeans took back with them fairly quickly.  And like chocolate and corn, it was centuries before people realized it was unhealthy and lead to cancer.  Wait, scratch that last bit. Smoke Signals follows the history of tobacco from its early point as aa miracle cure to its role in government, in terms of revenue and contraband.  Poling looks at tobacco also in terms of what it means for Native populations, and how the existing Native traditions offer a frame for tobacco that could strengthen them today. I was expecting a more economic approach, to be honest,given the word "industry" in the title, but Poling certainly seems to grasp the history behind his subject. According to the description, he's also pursuing one of the greater ironies of tobacco revenue; like alcohol and firearms, the government starts regulating the sale of tobacco through tariffs and so forth, starts to count on that revenue, and then becomes dependent on perpetuating it as a source of income.  Capitalism, am I right?

Network : portrait conversations / by Lincoln Schatz 2012
This is one of those rare books where I look at the title, and have no idea where it's going.  Is it going to be about modern networks, with the metaphor of portraits?  Is it from portrait history, and the networks that portraiture created? Well, the section should have been the clue for me: we're smack dab in the middle of the American History portion of the collection.The idea is that Schatz is using Richard Avedon's 1976 photographic portfolio as inspiration to create a modern collection of "generative video portraits" of 100 of the movers behind every day American life. And the book is the transcription and pictures from those sessions. It's mostly DC figures, with people like Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Conner mixed with local deputies and secretaries. American history isn't really my cup of tea, but at least the title is unique.

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