Friday, 31 July 2015

Post 58: Summer reading, etc., Selections

It's always fun to have a reading list going with a number of books and articles that satisfy the curious drive to learn that many of us in grad school have, though certainly we aren't the only ones with bottomless curiosity.

My Reading List continually morphs with my moods, sense of obligation, curiosity, and interest. A recent pruning deleted Cynthia Flood short stories and replaced it with Paulo Friere "Pedagogy of the Oppressed", and I placed CP Boyko's "Psychology and Other Stories" on the list for a thorough re-read.

I am a fairly panoramic reader, and enjoy creative non-fiction, academic research papers and books, a splash of poetry, all mixed with a good dose of fiction and short stories.

This post is a short selection of passages that have stuck with me from the past few weeks, some for their wisdom, others for their insight, and other for their composition. I'll let them stand against and beside each other as is, and hope that some of them will strike you as interesting enough to follow up on.
Another beautiful evening sunset in Victoria. 
From Neil Smith's (1984) "Uneven development: Nature, capital, and the production of space:"

In the first chapter 'The ideology of nature'

"The subject of nature, real and conceptual, threads through the entire fabric of western thought. If it is a mammoth task to summarize the development of the major concepts of nature up to Kant, it would be a similarly mammoth task to do the same for the last two centuries. For during this time, social relation with nature has undergone an unprecedented transformation. Parallel to this, many old conceptions of nature have been fossilized as museum pieces while other comparatively obscure concepts have risen rapidly to prominence. It is in this short period that the dualism inherent in Kant has crystallized into the backbone of the bourgeois ideology of nature. Given the immensity of the task we cannot trace the detailed historical development of the ideology in this chapter. Instead we will simply illustrate this ideology by examining two particular modes of experiencing and conceptualizing nature: the scientific and what we shall call, for want of a better description, the poetic. No pretence is made to completeness; in each case the treatment is very selective since the point is to illustrate rather than definitely prove the bourgeois ideology of nature. Finally, we shall examine the marxist treatment of nature, the major alternative to the bourgeois conception" (pg. 13).


From Robert Boice's (1990) "Professors as writers: A self-help guide to productive writing:"

Chapter One: Why Professors Don't Write


"Traditionally, perfectionism stands as a major and separate cause of writing problems. No wonder. All of us, at one time or another, have experience the urge to keep reworking material until it seems perfect. All of us, at some level, would like to be seen as excellent writers.

"Some writers let perfectionism thoroughly block them; their ideas and papers never do reach acceptable levels of perfection, they can never do enough revising or rechecking, they even develop obsessive concerns with detail. At their worst, perfectionists are not only unproductive as writers. They are also elitists and snobs who assume that most published writing lacks merit or quality and that their writing, should they decide to finish and share it, would rise above the commonplace.

"In a way, perfectionism overlaps with fears of failure. Perfectionism practiced pathologically, as a morbid fear of making mistakes and of being exposed as mediocre, is little more than a fear of failure that inhibits writing" (pg. 10).

These have popped up on campus as does and fawns have filled the lawns. :)

From David Sedaris' (2000) book "Me talk pretty one day".

The piece:

"It was my father's dream that one day the people of the world would be connected to one another through a network of blocky, refrigerator-size computers, much like those he was helping develop at IBM. He envisioned families of the future gathered around their mammoth terminals, ordering groceries and paying their taxes from the comfort of their own homes. A person could compose music, design a dog-house, and ... something more, something even better. 'A person could... he could...'

"When predicting this utopia, he would eventually reach a point where words failed him. His eyes would widen and sparkle at the thought of this indescribable something more. 'I mean, my God,' he'd say, 'just think about it.'

"My sisters and I preferred not to. I didn't know about them, but I was hoping the people of the world might be united by something more interesting, like drugs or an armed struggle against the undead. Unfortunately, my father's team won, so computers it is. My only regret is that this had to happen during my lifetime" (pgs 142-143).


From Bruno Latour's (2005) "Reassembling the social: An introduction to Actor-Network-Theory"

From Part 1, First Source of Uncertainty: No Group, Only Group Formation

"If someone pointed out to me that words like 'group', 'grouping', and 'actor' are meaningless, I would answer, "Quite right." The word 'group' is so empty that it sets neither the size nor the content. It could be applied to a planet as well as to an individual; to Microsoft as well as to my family; to plants as well as to baboons. This is exactly why I have chosen it" (pg. 29).


From Joseph Boyden's "The Orenda"

"I stoke the fire with more wood and lift my robe to my shoulders. You would understand, dear one, what I need right now. After all, we made the promise to each other that if one were to die too young, the other, after appropriate mourning, should feel free to take care of physical needs. It's time to pay Gosling a visit.

"No light yet, and the snow blows sideways, building high against the west side of the longhouses, helping to insulate them from the lake's wind. This is the time when our people go to the dream world most deeply, and normally I'd be there too. But I awoke to Gosling's image in my head, and I knew she beckoned me. She lives alone near the southern palisades, and no one dares build a home near her. She is the only one in a community of thousands to live alone" (pg. 25).

This made me double-take: the helicopter seeds of a bigleaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) look very much like a
 resting moth on the trunk of this tree. 
I am very aware that my current reading selections above contain all male authors; most of the time I make an effort to read literature written from women, too! It does happen that right now I am not in the middle of one of those.

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