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  What Book Are You Currently Reading?
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Author Topic: What Book Are You Currently Reading?  (Read 336388 times)
Filuwaúrdjan
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« Reply #1075 on: July 23, 2014, 01:05:56 pm »

'Socialist' 'Realism' was effectively the kitschification (for glorification of political power) of the Russian Realist tradition, which - as bad luck would have it - was actually one of the most interesting and artistically accomplished of the various 19th century Realist tendencies. Rather delightfully, the American Realist tradition was also pretty accomplished and dynamic, and it also suffered the fate of kitschification-for-politics in the 1930s... though (mercifully) to a less extreme degree.
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« Reply #1076 on: July 23, 2014, 02:32:28 pm »
« Edited: July 23, 2014, 02:39:20 pm by asexual trans victimologist »

'Socialist' 'Realism' was effectively the kitschification (for glorification of political power) of the Russian Realist tradition, which - as bad luck would have it - was actually one of the most interesting and artistically accomplished of the various 19th century Realist tendencies.

That's exactly the process that Robin is discussing. Because of my great fondness for Russian realism I like the aspects of socialist realism that suffered less than others from the kitschification, generally because of the skill of the artist in question rather than because some fields of the arts or areas of subject matter were somehow more immune to it than others (although I have seen it noted that socialist realist paintings of Lenin tend on balance to be less atrocious than those of Stalin, which comes as not much of a surprise at all).

Robin seems to think that what Gorky seemed to mean by his preferred term 'revolutionary romanticism' would probably have been more artistically fulfilled, but that's an effect of the fact that Gorky was a better writer and more honest than a lot of the people surrounding him and a lot of the other people at the First Soviet Writers' Congress to which Robin devotes Part One of the book. (The book focuses mostly on novels. Part Two is about the 'realist obsession of the nineteenth century' and spends a lot of time on Goncharov and Turgenev as novelists--there's a particularly vivid dissection of Bazarov from Fathers and Sons--and Belinsky, Dobrolyubov, and Pisarev as critics, along with the requisite Chernyshevsky, Dostoyevsky, and Tolstoy.)

Robin spends the introduction talking about her personal background with Soviet film and literature and her genuine childhood love for this sort of thing. She's for the most part semi-sympathetic--more sympathetic to her former self than to the art in question--without being an apologist, although the 'insane dream' sequence at the end of Part One--which I'll type up if anybody is interested in reading it--is one of the most full-throated criticisms I've read in any book of this kind.

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Rather delightfully, the American Realist tradition was also pretty accomplished and dynamic, and it also suffered the fate of kitschification-for-politics in the 1930s... though (mercifully) to a less extreme degree.

By the pre-kitschified form are you referring to (in visual art) painters like the Ashcan School, and by the post-kitschified form such as Norman Rockwell, or is my understanding of American realism constrained because I've spent so much of my life focusing on European and Asian art?
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« Reply #1077 on: July 23, 2014, 05:22:37 pm »

I'm reading Tony Judt's Postwar. It's okay so far, I hope it gets better. The first few chapters just seem to be endless lists of numbers and statistics. His actual analysis is interesting, but reading page after page listing the numbers of refugees from each European state is kind of exhausting.

I've read it as well as a couple of other books by Judt.  I have read a lot of european history and I think he is a little biased on certain things.

Right now I'm reading "Globalization and its enemies" by Daniel Cohen
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Tetro Kornbluth
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« Reply #1078 on: July 23, 2014, 07:38:15 pm »

I still think the USSR should have made constructivism, instead of socialist 'realism', its official art style... just think of the possibilities, never mind its effect on Communism's low aesthetic reputation.
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Dave from Michigan
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« Reply #1079 on: August 02, 2014, 02:15:59 pm »

Just got back from the library and I got a book on former Michigan governor William Milliken, a moderate republican. He was governor from 1969 to 1983. Looks interesting and should give some good insight to Michigan politics of that era. State politics from past eras can be hard to find info on.
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« Reply #1080 on: August 03, 2014, 02:09:47 pm »

A Nice Little Place on the North Side: Wrigley Field at One Hundred by George Will. This is a charming, informative little history of the Cubs and the great city of Chicago. Chicago has been run down so much these last few years it is nice to read a book that reminds me how much the Empire City of the Great Lakes means to America, it's culture and it's history. Also, it put forward some neat theories on Babe Ruth's famous "Called Shot" in 1932 and also the Zangara's attempted assassination of FDR. A fun read and highly recommended.
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angus
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« Reply #1081 on: August 03, 2014, 06:31:14 pm »

Just finished "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" ten minutes ago.  Like, I mean ten minutes ago.  Long story.  Homework, sort of.  Pretty interesting read anyway. 
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« Reply #1082 on: August 11, 2014, 06:47:48 pm »

Citadel of Sin: The John Looney Story by Richard Hamer and Roger Ruthart. This is a fine work of local history. It tells the dark story of John Patrick Looney, the crime boss of Rock Island, Illinois. I visit the Quad City area monthly and it is amazing to learn about a gangster who ran his own newspaper, held a law degree and wrote a play about Irish freedom fighter Robert Emmett. If you have ever seen the film Road to Perdition you know who Looney is. He was played by Paul Newman and the charterer was named John Rooney. The film does not do a great job telling the historical truth of the John Looney story but it is still a great movie. 
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« Reply #1083 on: August 12, 2014, 10:27:00 pm »

Si l'Union Nationale m'était contée, by Mario Cardinal et al, and Memoires by Georges-Emile Lapalme. The former is an oral history by political scientists interviewing prominent politicians from the Duplessis era... nothing really new to me but I was interested in how everyone rated their colleagues. Lapalme's memoirs are boring as hell, if useful as a peek on that side of the aisle. The PLQ then, like the PCQ decades earlier, was a pathetic joke somewhat in awe of the omnipotent dynasty facing them across the aisle... though to his credit Lapalme doesn't engage in too much self-aggrandizement.
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True Federalist
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« Reply #1084 on: August 13, 2014, 01:25:48 am »

Heart of the World by Hans Urs von Balthasar.  Interesting, and if I shared his premises I would share his conclusion.  But frankly, I found little in his premises that I agreed with. I don't see Human individuality as inherently incompatible with Divine unity.
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RogueBeaver
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« Reply #1085 on: August 14, 2014, 09:09:04 pm »
« Edited: August 14, 2014, 09:10:52 pm by RogueBeaver »

Mercier by Robert Rumilly. Totally new territory for me, since I'm not at all familiar with 19th century QC politics. In some respects Mercier reminds me of Diefenbaker (or even Duplessis' first term), truth be told. I judge Mercier much more harshly because IMO he had the administrative skills and temperament to govern competently but purposely got high on his own vapors and ended in a (very avoidable) massive train wreck.
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Foucaulf
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« Reply #1086 on: August 15, 2014, 02:23:16 am »

Straying away from my research project, I'm almost done with a book on economic philosophy: Alex Rosenberg's Economics - Mathematical Politics or Science of Diminishing Returns? The easiest way to explain it is that Rosenberg, as a philosopher of science, notices that many economists believe that their study will lead to understanding about what really holds true in our economy. Progress on this criteria ought to be judged, following empiricist standards, by constant improvements in economics's quantitative predictive power. His main thesis is that we should not hope that this will ever happen in economics; i.e. economics has and cannot be a science.

There are a lot of arguments in the book. Chief ones are that the fact that economics has a formalized methodological core doesn't mean much about its status as science; the nature of preferential statements putting a stop to any reasonable idea of "improvement" in economics; faulty metaphors in evolutionary economics; the confounding effects of information and uncertainty; and the uselessness of general equilibrium theory. I think the last three has become accepted, while the first two remains opposed in looser forms.

Rosenberg tends to see economics as "applied math" - deductive reasoning in support of some institutional setup. This is a pretty pessimistic view and I hope Austrians don't get all up in my grill about it. I think his view has softened in recent years as behavioural economics has identified some psychological trends in human behaviour. It is not impossible for economics to predict what will actually happen - but circumstances for doing so are very hard to arrange.

This is not to mention the big debate over prediction of the future versus identification of causal effects going on within economics. If the discipline is split up into two camps, each of which prizing prediction or identification over the other, that will only stoke complaints that economics isn't only getting its deep variables wrong, but is also totally biased a certain way when selecting them.
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National Progressive
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« Reply #1087 on: August 17, 2014, 03:40:04 am »

http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320498352l/23231.jpg

One of the most quintiessentially Atlasian novels.
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« Reply #1088 on: August 20, 2014, 08:49:21 pm »

Thomas Piketty's "Capital in the 21st century".  Great book so far.
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Gustaf
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« Reply #1089 on: August 21, 2014, 10:31:00 am »

Thomas Piketty's "Capital in the 21st century".  Great book so far.

That's a waste of time. Tongue
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Filuwaúrdjan
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« Reply #1090 on: August 21, 2014, 11:05:39 am »

Simon Schama's Dead Certainties (Unwarranted Speculations). A glorious piece of A+++ trolling.
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The Mikado
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« Reply #1091 on: August 23, 2014, 06:46:48 pm »

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The third Mazower book I've read.  Drier than Dark Continent and Salonika: City of Ghosts, but a good read nonetheless.
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Nathan
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« Reply #1092 on: August 24, 2014, 04:41:15 pm »

Spider in a Tree: A Novel of the First Great Awakening by Susan Stinson. I don't know quite what I expected when I heard that there was a historical novel about Jonathan Edwards's household by a writer previously known primarily for lesbian-themed fiction, but I know that I was not expecting this to be as incredibly good as it is so far.
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« Reply #1093 on: August 24, 2014, 05:39:37 pm »

Spider in a Tree: A Novel of the First Great Awakening by Susan Stinson. I don't know quite what I expected when I heard that there was a historical novel about Jonathan Edwards's household by a writer previously known primarily for lesbian-themed fiction, but I know that I was not expecting this to be as incredibly good as it is so far.

currently on Wiki

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SWE
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« Reply #1094 on: August 30, 2014, 12:18:17 pm »

Just started A People's History of the United States
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Lasitten
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« Reply #1095 on: August 30, 2014, 05:08:28 pm »

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RogueBeaver
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« Reply #1096 on: August 30, 2014, 09:04:38 pm »
« Edited: August 30, 2014, 09:27:07 pm by RogueBeaver »

Warlords: Borden, Mackenzie King and Canada's World Wars by Tim Cook.
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National Progressive
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« Reply #1097 on: September 04, 2014, 09:50:21 pm »

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Read an excerpt for Comparative Politics and it was absolutely fantastic. I wonder what Simfan thinks of it.
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Foucaulf
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« Reply #1098 on: September 07, 2014, 04:25:10 pm »

I'm taking my obscurity to the next level: I'm flipping through a Chinese book called On Modern Chinese Thought by Li Zehou. The author is a prominent Chinese philosopher, who still ended up being arrested several times in Mainland China for his moments of political critique. By "modern" he means China from the late Qing period to the Republic of China period, or nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries.

At its heart it is a collection of essays, focused on that period's major thinkers and critiquing their thought. It's less a work of history as it is a reevaluation of thought, with the end goal of understanding where China must go after a century of social upheaval. But I'm only getting started.
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anvi
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« Reply #1099 on: September 10, 2014, 03:06:46 pm »

Among modern Chinese philosophers, Li Zhehou is certainly one of the most fascinating.  Interesting stuff on aesthetics, fairly provocative arguments about political theory.  Enjoy the read.
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