Books Aloud – April 2008
Art and Revolution: Transversal Activism in the Long Twentieth Century Gerald Raunig
Art history is usually told through two, sometimes intertwining, narrative structures: either taking a look at certain typical paintings that illustrate the progression of painting or through the chronological movements that make up certain periods of art history proper. What is always lost is a sense of the political that makes up the true art of painting and its association to the social milieu it was created in.
In Art and Revolution, Raunig runs in the complete opposite direction of previous art historical analysis and fills that niche of art as political act; he takes up the triumphs and failures as art not only tries to attune our perception, but tries to change the way we live. By skillfully roving such art moments as Russian Futurism and Viennese Actionists (and putting them through the lens of critical theory), Rauning has delivered a alternative primer to art’s long, if not neglected, agitation in the world. –Spanther
Deathtripping: The Extreme Underground
Soft Skull Press
Deathripping is a thorough survey of the post-punk, underground film movement that emerged out of New York City in the late 70s. In 1985, Nick Zedd coined the term “Cinema of Transgression” to help better define what he and his cohorts were doing. This community of artists stripped away all formulaic boundaries put in place by mainstream filmmaking, particularly in academia, to create a kind of cinema that would indulge the fears and fantasies of everyone exposed to it.
This book contains an assortment of interviews, essays, photographs and manifestos that help bring some light to the dark, tormented roots of this period in underground film. The new revised edition contains an additional chapter talking about the present-day influence of Transgression Cinema and three scripts written by Tommy Turner, Richard Kern and Zedd. Sargeant does a great job analyzing this nihilistic movement and contextualizing its vulgar and pornographic qualities with the society outside.
Deathtripping sends the message that film should never be looked at as a privilege, but rather as an available medium for anyone who needs to express themselves, no matter how grotesque that expression is. –Michael DeJohn
The Exiles of Marcel Duchamp
In a suitcase, Demos’ Exiles of Marcel Duchamp tries to wander through and talk about the little-discussed nomadism of Duchamp, both in his artistic practice and in his life. If there was a reason why it was little discussed or acknowledged, it’s probably because there is not much to say in regards to that topic that hasn’t already been said.
Dumpster diving the critical terminology of museum studies, photography and post-colonial theory, Demos scatters his argument all over, making name-checked claims that seem self-evidently connect and that anyone with a little time and some reading by Benjamin, Crimp and Malraux could have done. The book, in essence, seems like it is trying to cash in on the Duchamp train, but unfortunately, in doing so, Demos missed it even before it left the station. –Spanther
The Jewish Mind: Revised Edition
Sure, for typical questions on all things Jewish, you could ask SLUG’s office coordinator Jeanette Moses (firstname.lastname@example.org): resident expert on all things Jew. But for those questions that are either philosophically and anthropologically deeper than what Jeanette might be able to handle, you might want to check out The Jewish Mind, an essentially all-encompassing encyclopedia of Jewish knowledge.
With an end goal of explaining how and why the typical Jewish mind functions, author Raphael Patai explores everything from major events to genealogy and heredity in a quest to define exactly how Jews tick. Pages are content-rich with Jewish goodness, and getting through the book may even leave you with burning desire to adorn a yarmulke upon your head and a curly brown beard on your chin. –Ross Solomon
The Portable Atheist
Christopher Hitchens (ed)
Da Capo Press
The recent surge in books denouncing religion as deluded and evil and offing atheism as the solution could be attributed to post-9/11 cultural anxiety about religious fervor from Muslim extremists and Christian fundamentalists alike. This anthology, The Portable Atheist, lovingly collected by conservative atheist and all-around asshole Christopher Hitchens, proves that far from being a flash-in-the-pan reaction to current events, atheism has a rich history throughout western civilization.
You’ll find essays by philosophers (Hobbes, Hume, Mill, Marx, Russell), authors (Swift, Conrad, Orwell, H.P Lovecraft!), and men of science (Einstein, Darwin, Freud), all handing religion its ass. True, there’s only so much you can say about not believing in something, and many of these essays were likely chosen based on their rhetorical flair rather than their new insights, but this is a great tool to sharpen your heathen arguments for the next time a pair of missionaries come knocking on your door. –Jona Gerlach
Just one glance into this book and you are taken away to a land of pure composition that most eyes pass over. Aaron Ruell has done an amazing job showing that there can indeed be beauty in the mundane, and mystery in regular, everyday sightings. The images are like taking a walk in the future and seeing the world as a child again.
Vibrant colors and simple yet somehow complex compositions make this book a definite visual treat. The portraits are a little different than your average headshot or lifestyle photograph and invite you to take a step back and experience the moment that has already passed. Wonderful. –adam dorobiala
Sunrise Tai Chi
This book is a great next step for those who understand the basics of Tai Chi but want to know the history, and the more advanced techniques it has to offer. One of the most informational texts I have ever read on Tai Chi, Sunrise Tai Chi explains in detail many of the aspects of Tai Chi that most other books skip over. I especially liked the entire section devoted strictly to getting you to understand the proper ways to breathe and center yourself. That information alone is worth numbers for your practice.
Illustrated as well, this book has been like a college textbook without the hassle of the tuition. Aside from the knowledge of the book, it has a DVD of the same title that shows you the full movements in moving picture format. You and your practice will thank you for reading this book. –adam dorobiala
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