Books Read: January 2017
14 February 2017


The Mushroom at the End of the World
Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing

Recommended by Debcha in her newsletter, a sweeping work of anthropology, ostensibly about the Matsutake mushroom, but really about how human beings and the environment intersect and collaborate.

I am reminded of James C. Scott’s book Seeing Like a State, but also my recent trip to Iceland. Visiting Iceland I realized a lot of the freakology of the place is based on the deforestation perpetuated a thousand years ago by the vikings settling the island. I called my little VR piece about it “On this Pagan Soil” because I found a sense that the pagan way of experiencing the world is not as the outsider looking into “nature”, but from inside as a collaborator. Tsing’s book seems to offer a way into this way of being, not alienated from the environment as we are now, but as actors in the environment. Does anyone else have books on the Accelerationist Pagan world?

 

 

 

 

 

Pybrac
Pierre Louys

An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris
George Perec

Paul Scheerbart
The Perpetual Motion Machine

Pataphysical Essays
By René Daumal

I just became aware of Wakefield Press, a small publishing house specializing in translations of obscure works into English. I first read their translation of The Book of Monelle by Marcel Schwob last year, but now I’m going through about a book a week of theirs.

I am consistently impressed by the translations– not belabored, charming and imminently readable. I also appreciate the typesetting and design and the general care that goes into making these books look and feel good to read. They seem to keep the bookstore at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel well stocked with their editions, so I go every Sunday and buy the book I’ll read that day.

Perec’s An Attempt At Exausting A Place in Paris was the inspiration I needed to finally get working on my new(ish) project 110/105.

The Doomed City
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

This book is about as lot of things– how personalities are networked and built around one’s position in life, how reality is fundamentally mutable, how every economic system eventually decays into ridiculousness. The ending is really 70’s. The authors are best known for writing Roadside Picnic, which Tarkovsky adapted into Stalker.

The translation is a little clumsy, but still readable.

The Portable Henry Rollins
Henry Rollins

I don’t love Henry Rollins’s writing as much as I used to, but visiting it again is something I do with some regularity. I never miss his column in the LA Weekly. His essay on weightlifting got me back to the gym years ago. He is a fellow devotee of squats and dark thoughts. I appreciate his dedication to shipping projects, something I’ve been trying to develop in my life.


The Procrastination Equation: How to Stop Putting Things Off and Start Getting Stuff Done
Piers Steel, PHD

I generally will read a self-help book or pop-science book a month. I take a lot of it with a grain of salt. I would say The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg would be the better book to read. But there are a few good ideas. The idea of a success spiral seems useful, and it got me doing Pomodoro’s again.