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Schwifty

Schwifty

Joined November 2018

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Schwifty
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Ewen traces the roots of consumer culture in the United States from the advent of mass production to advertising in order to stimulate demand for mass produced goods. He then argues how the consumer culture disrupted social stability, family roles, feminism and the labor movement among other aspects of society. Although, I consider this an important read, it's very academic and not a leisurely stroll through social history.

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Schwifty
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Sentimental Education is a coming of age story about a young Frenchman named Frédéric from the country who gets entangled in numerous love affairs and social circles of 1840s Paris. The political turmoil of the age is more of a backdrop than a major story arch, but informs some of the character development. Frédéric is infatuated with a married woman he can never attain; Flaubert does a nice job with the psychological element of this.

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Schwifty
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Mehso-so

This was a good collection of essays on the changing notion of what constitutes culture and how this change is adversely affecting modern science, politics and religion. The arguments are interesting and essays well written, however the author sometimes seems quite naive about the modern history of imperialism (especially by the US) and the deep flaws of so-called free market capitalism. Given this, I feel conflicted about the book.

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Schwifty
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Ames traces the similarities between pre civil war slave rebellions in the US and the rage murders of the post Reagan era that have proliferated in US workplaces and schools. Instead of the usual scapegoats of guns and violence in media, he posits that perhaps the institutions where these take place are themselves to blame. In other words, perhaps the nasty, hateful, toxic culture of American offices, factories and schools breed despair and rage.

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Schwifty
Brighton Rock (Deluxe) | Graham Greene
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I agree with Anthony Burgess that Greene was a good novelist, but not a great one. Still, I'm drawn to his work. I had trouble really getting into this one for the first half, but after that it reads just as suspenseful as any of Greene's other thrillers. The protagonist is essentially an anti-hero whose end is immensely satisfying, but the ultimate end of the novel plants a seed of horror for the reader.

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Schwifty
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Graeber, as always, delivered a surprising book about a rather seemingly boring cultural phenomenon. He traces the roots and logic of bureaucracy through politics, literature, technology, the post office and even dungeons and dragons and popular comic book heroes such as Batman.

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Schwifty
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I don't think this book needs much introduction. Suffice it to say that it's quite entertaining for a book from the 14th century. One readily observes how matter of factly certain topics and bodily functions were spoken of which today would be obscene or at least distasteful in some literature. Hint: Check out the historian, Melissa Mohr. Also, this prose version was highly accessible for those like me not given much to Middle English poetry.

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Schwifty
Up Above the World | Paul Bowles
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This is a short thriller that stays true to much of Bowles' work -a story about travelers coping with unfamiliar landscapes and cultures and unwittingly meeting tragedy -in this case, manipulation and murder. I'm a big fan of Bowles so I may be a bit biased here. It's not as great as The Sheltering Sky or Let It Come Down, but still worth the 223 pages.

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Schwifty
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Another one of Postman's great works in which he argues for a reassessment of the meaning of public education in the United States and offers new ways of inculcating students with cultural and linguistic critical thinking skills. His ideas are as always, revolutionary and unfortunately, largely unheeded.

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Schwifty
Falling Man: A Novel | Don DeLillo
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Mehso-so

DeLillo's novel about a survivor and his family attempting to process the horror of the 9/11 attacks. The surreal nature of the event lends itself well to Delillo's surrealist writing style, although I'm not sure it's among his best work.

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Schwifty
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This is a long lecture that Goodman gave in Canada that was adapted to book form. It can be thought of as a sort of follow up to his book, Growing Up Absurd, but deals a bit more with his thoughts on the state of democracy in 1960s America (he's not altogether optimistic, but certainly not fatalistic).

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Schwifty
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An important book, but I would not recommend it for the average reader. Goodman was a poet, playwright and academic who combined his literary prowess with sociological and psychological theory to levy a scathing critique on American culture. The Absurd arises when youth encounter a culture they are expected to conform to that cannot provide opportunities for a meaningful existence, a possible explanation for the "Beats" and the unrest of the 60s.

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Schwifty
The Order of Time | Carlo Rovelli
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Mehso-so

Rovelli explains how time outside of human experience does not exist and uses the idea of music as a way to develop human time as a process of memory rather than an experience of a constant present. The last three chapters are the ones worth reading; the rest of the book can be difficult to follow and repetitive at certain points.

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Schwifty
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This is the "sequel" to Turkle's previous book, Alone Together. She again provides more evidence for the argument that technology and phones specifically act as distraction machines, disrupting human attention, presence and conversation, increasingly preventing young people in particular from learning how to empathize. Technology leaves us feeling lonely yet afraid of intimacy; it leads us to expect more from machines and less from each other.

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Schwifty
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I enjoyed this book far more than I thought I would. Malcolm X was a fascinating figure during the 60s civil rights movements, much maligned by the press and later by his former associates in the Nation of Islam who conspired to assassinate him on February 21, 1965. In his autobiography, Malcolm explains his roots in the ghetto, stint in crime and how prison turned him to religion, never hesitating to admit how his previous views were wrong.

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Schwifty
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In contrast to much of Jensen's writing, this book is a bit more playful, albeit sprinkled with dark sarcasm. It's a satirical glimpse into the minds of those who control the levers of industrial capitalism and a hopeful story of how those who can remember what it means to be wild can defeat the cynical death urge of those that wish to consume the planet all in the pursuit of profits.

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Schwifty
War Is a Lie | David Swanson
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This book is a comprehensive argument against war of any kind, focusing on the propaganda, justifications, consequences and unexplored alternatives of mostly US wars of the 20th and 21st centuries. I would consider Swanson's work along with Chomsky's as some of the best antidotes to the official US narrative of war as a last resort or the notion of "good wars."

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Schwifty
The Good Earth | Pearl S. Bck
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Mehso-so

I wasn't overly thrilled about this story. It's a classic tale of boom and bust and the pitfalls of giving into impulses and pride, but I could not sympathize with any of the characters or relate to the story -not surprising considering the rather alien setting. If there was anything remarkable about it, it was that the prose style seems to have been consciously designed to evoke a timeless, ancient China.

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Schwifty
One Hundred Years of Solitude | Gabriel Garcia Marquez
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This is one of the most memorable books I've ever read due to the exotic setting and fantastical events described. It's also a great commentary on the human condition and how time erases memory. It can be a bit difficult to keep track of who's related to who, but in my edition at least, there was a family tree.

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Schwifty
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Wonderful prose. I am familiar with the physical setting as I've traveled around much of Morelos state; the author is fairly accurate in his descriptions. The narrative can be difficult to follow at times, although much of that is probably due to the main character's alternating moments of clarity and drunken delirium.