Listing to the Left

10 Dec

One who aspires to recognition for acute and nimble observations will not gain such by beating to death a horse already in rigor mortis—such as the ubiquity of lists all over American culture and its portals. I point this out because the end of the year makes this plague especially virulent. All the usual suspects present some form of a list to their audiences, real and imagined. One cannot avoid a suspicion of cynicism amongst the editors and editorial chosen who spew out this stuff, though the more odious superlatives like “best” have been supplanted by the more (seemingly) humble “favorite”.

Anyway,happy as I am to skirt the perimeter of hypocrisy I have my own list(of books). But I am not going to reveal the unifying element that brings these listees together(though most, I think, are of 2010 vintage).Rather I ‘d like this list thing to at least incite some brain activity. Here goes:

Inventing American History– William Hogeland (Boston Review/MIT Press)

You’re A Genius All The Time: Belief and Technique for Modern Prose– Jack Kerouac (Chronicle Books)

The Communist Postscript– Boris Groys translated by Thomas Ford (Verso)

Pocket Pantheon: Figures of Post War Philosophy – Alain Badiou translated by David Macy(Verso)

The Communist Hypothesis -Alain Badiou translated by David Macy and Steve Corcoran (Verso)

Poetry as Insurgent Art – Lawrence Ferlinghetti (New Directions)

The Bomb– Howard Zinn (City Lights)

The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time– David L Ulin ( Sasquatch Books)

The Post Human Dada Guide Tzara & Lenin Play Chess– Andrei Codrescu (Princeton University Press)

Never Use White Type on Black Background: And 50 other Ridiculous Design Rules Anneloes van Gaalen (Bis Books)

Unpacking My Library: Architects and Their Books – edited by Jo Stephens with an essay by Walter Benjamen (Yale University Press)

One thing though— which may serve as a hint of sorts. Three of the books I treasure are, in a number of aspects, similar to the above listed. A Winterhouse Editions tome, Susan Sontag’s Literature is Freedom (her Friedenspreis Acceptance Speech), This is Water by David Foster Wallace (Little Brown)and JM Coetzee’s 2003 Nobel Lecture in Literature (Penguin Books)

Ok, then, you’re on your own.

Perhaps only one gifted or burdened (as the case may be) with a grasshopper mind would make this connection(to be honest, I would have found a way to mention Joe Bageant and his latest essay in which he unpacks Cultural Ignorance in America, AMERICA: Y UR PEEPS B SO DUM? Ignorance and courage in the age of Lady Gaga Here’s a taste to whet your appetite:

If you hang out much with thinking people, conversation eventually turns to the serious political and cultural questions of our times. Such as: How can the Americans remain so consistently brain-fucked? Much of the world, including plenty of Americans, asks that question as they watch U.S. culture go down like a thrashing mastodon giving itself up to some Pleistocene tar pit.

One explanation might be the effect of 40 years of deep fried industrial chicken pulp, and 44 ounce Big Gulp soft drinks. Another might be pop culture, which is not culture at all of course, but marketing. Or we could blame it on digital autism:Ever watch commuter monkeys on the subway poking at digital devices, stroking the touch screen for hours on end? That wrinkled Neolithic brows above the squinting red eyes?

An d friends,if I might say, this piece gets better…

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One Response to “Listing to the Left”

  1. Chris December 11, 2010 at 12:53 am #

    The ‘ignorance is bliss’ ideal is a dying one in future generations (I hope) with access to REAL information via the internet, one can make their own assertive judgements and differentiate between the TRUTH and the ‘truth’. The problem lies in the general population’s laziness and also the control of what information is available. One must desire information to truly be able to seek it out. The thing that we have strived for as human beings since the inception of our species is communication. If we don’t share information, then we are perpetuating the very communication breakdown that is one of the main causes for this ignorance.
    So get out there and communicate! We must not be angry at one another for not knowing information and thus, being ignorant. We must share information and educate each other to cause a global awareness. Ginsberg once said “….The only thing that can save the world is the reclaiming of the awareness of the world. That’s what poetry does..” We seek information to educate ourselves to be able to educate others. Want to do your part? Get out there and read!

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