Monday, July 30, 2012

Updated book list...

Updated book list (Given my current situation with Team Giardia, I have the time…)

Note: the first three books on the list reflects my current interest in proving to myself (and more importantly, my daughter) that when a society blindly adopts any and all “technological innovation” that society is heading for catastrophe. Furthermore, the even greater tragedy is that in this 'post modern', interrelated world, this blind adoption has vast negative world-wide implications not only for humankind but for all living things.  The sad truth of the matter is that most of the time we simply accept new technology without any thoughtful discourse or qualitative analysis.  Even if you believe that a particular technological advance is counterproductive to the quality of ones life (or to society), the resounding conclusion is that once the device is available there is absolutely nothing anyone can do to stop its use. This seemingly inability of a society to control the "advancement" of any and all technology represents what Durkheim would surely call an "anomie." Essentially we have become slaves to our technology and we don't even realize strange.  For a very significant percentage of kids living in this country (and increasingly in many other countries as well) the majority of their waking hours is spent as passive spectators zoned into either a TV or computer screen. These people are either sleeping, or being entertained by a TV/computer...surely this cannot be a good thing, but...of course there is nothing we can do about it...itz just the way things are now...

In the Absence of the Scared: The Failure of Technology & the Survival of the Indian Nations by Jerry Mander.  This five star read was recommended to me by my old friend, Scotty Kylander-Johnson.  While it is dated having been written in the early 1990s, in my estimation it is spot on.  If you have not been to a high school or college campus in the last five to six years take the time to seek one out and walk around a bit. The first thing you will notice is that kids do not interact anymore, instead that are all tied into their own little cyber worlds. Mander saw it coming, even in the early 90s.  Basically these are two books in one. Book one is a general critique of our zombie-like obsession with technology and how we simply go along with what the mega-corporation market to us…Of course the military leads all technological advance…the art of killing is the most progressive followed by the art of extracting natural resources.  The second book applies Mender’s theories to the native cultures and what has happened to the modern tribes that have adopted TV into their homes. A chilling, but spot-on work.

Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle by Chris Hedges.  Another great and shocking effort by Hedges. I saw him interviewed on PBS (Bill Moyer’s show) and immediately ordered his new book. The title says it all. He uses several aspects of our modern culture to make the point that the vast majority of us are living in tailor made fantasy worlds. The chapter, The illusion of Love provides too much raw, disconcerting info about the X-rated movie business and I found myself wondering if he had fallen victim to his own illusions. Overall its good stuff!!!

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt.  As with Hedge’s book, I saw Haidt on the Bill Moyer’s show and was both impressed and captivated. I am only about forty pages into a three hundred page textbook-like read, but it is very interesting.  Haidt is much more hopeful than either Hedges or Mander. Basically he argues that the two political parties are duping us all.  He also maintains that we want to do the right thing, but group loyal always trumps logic, so we tend to go with the group even when it is counterproductive to our own lives…Case-in-point: The family guy that is working hard but barely making it and yet he still is against some form of universal healthcare. 

Andrew Jackson in the White House: American Lion by Jon Meacham. This book has been highly touted, winning the Pulitzer Prize, but I thought that it was pretty lame. It seems most of Jackson’s time in the White House was spent fighting with his in-laws and sticking it to the hapless Native Americans. I came away unimpressed with both Jackson and Meacham.

Inside of a Dog: What dogs see, smell, and know by Alexandra Horowitz. Horowitz makes a big deal in the introduction that we should be really really careful not to engage in “anthropomorphism”  (attribution of human characteristics to nonhumans) and then she spends the rest of the book doing anthropomorphism. I was pumped to read this book especially given our recent love affair with Loki (who was killed by a car a few months ago and now our new Man-puppy, Hondo), but I was disappointed.  Note: A better book that is really old (from the 1960s) but provides great practical insights into training a dog is Richard Wolter’s Family Dog.

The Last Temptation of Christ by Nikos Kazanizakis. This amazingly complex, historic, and important literary classic was given to me by Ari of the Slender Fungus.  I am through Chapter Seven and even though I am not yet one-third through it, I am both confused and humbled by the weight of the story. I will need to finish it and then re-read parts of it to make a comment that is worthy. For now, I can see why it’s publication caused such a stir in 1960, when it was first published. Wow!

Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest by Wade Davis. This is an awesome re-telling of the life and times of George Mallory. Five stars and a Must READ for any aspiring DBDer…I have a signed copy from the author, Wade Davis! It was a gift to me from my heroes, Lindsay Gauld and Andy Lockery…I treasure this book…Go get this book and treasure it too!

1 comment:

  1. Just ordered the Mallory book.

    Hope the recovery is going well.