A Public Intimacy (A Life Through Scrapbooks) is a way of reviewing an archive. Cuttings, clippings and comments, the stuff of scrapbooks, started in 1964, make up part of the author’s archive, the information that threads through the library, events and life explored. The book does not fit easily into any genre or category, blurring notions of essay or biography, or ideas employed in fiction writing and other art forms. Traversing paths pursued in visual art is a key factor, even outside the more obvious image pages. Collage is part of the process, with cuttings scrolling vertically alongside the text, forming an adjacent narrative. In part an account of the times, the counter-currents and counter-culture of the last four decades, in part an exploration of the nature of scrapbooks and of collections, the book forms as much a counter-intellectual narrative of the times, as counter-biography, revealing as much as the writer wants, playing into the hands of fiction as much as any novel. Paul Buck works as a poet, writer, playwright, artist, performer, translator and teacher in the visual arts. As well as founding the seminal magazine Curtains, which blasted French contemporary writing into British culture, he is the author, editor and translator of numerous published and unpublished works, appended in this book as Selected Context.
Edmund Husserl (1859-1938), known as the founder of the phenomenological movement, was one of the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century. A prolific scholar, he explored an enormous landscape of philosophical subjects, including philosophy of mathematics, logic, theory of meaning, theory of consciousness and intentionality, and ontology, in addition to phenomenology. This deeply insightful book traces the development of Husserl's thought from his earliest investigations in philosophy - informed by his work as a mathematician - to his publication of Ideas in 1913. Jitendra Mohanty, an internationally renowned Husserl scholar, presents a masterful study that illuminates Husserl's central concerns and provides a definitive assessment of the first phases of the philosopher's career.
Acclaimed for her exquisitely elegant novels – including the Booker Prize-winning Offshore – and superb biographies, Penelope Fitzgerald was one of the most admired authors in Britain during the last century. The prizewinning author of nine novels, three biographies, and one collection of short stories, she died in 2000. So I Have Thought Of You, a generous selection of essays, reviews, introductions and other occasional writings, is an invaluable addition her distinguished oeuvre.
The really special thing about this edition or Marguerite Duras's Wartime Notebooks is that understated subtitle and other texts. This truly is a compendious collection of Duras's unpublished writing and publisher Quercus are to be congratulated for producing such a lovely -- and important -- book. Duras -- most famous for her exquisite novel The Lover -- was one of the leading intellectuals and writers of post-war France. Her novels are all very autobiographical, but don't let that make you think that that takes anything away from her skill as a writer. How she uses her life, how she wrote and rewrote and explored all the facts and facets of it, are what make her so exceptional. Wartime Notebooks contains the contents of four notebooks kept "in a blue closet in her country home in France ... until now no one recognised just how important was the material she had written between 1943 and 1949." The Pink Marbled Notebook, devoted to her childhood, includes, amongst much other material, rough drafts of The Sea Wall; the 20th Century Press and Hundred-Page Notebooks contain a rough draft of The War; and the Beige Notebook contains -- again, amongst much other great diary material -- a rough draft of The Sailor from Gibraltar. In addition, the book has fifty pages of additional texts. Essential.
The premise of Zizek’s theory is that the subjective violence we see – violence with a clear identifiable agent – is only the tip of an iceberg made up of ‘systemic’ violence, which is essentially the catastrophic consequence of the smooth functioning of our economic and political systems. With the help of Marx, Engels, Sartre, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Lacan, Brecht and many more, Zizek examines the hidden causes of violence, delving into the supposed ‘divine violence’ which propels suicide bombers and the unseen ‘systemic’ violence which lies behind outbursts, from Parisian suburbia to New Orleans. For Zizek, the controversial truth is that sometimes doing nothing is the most violent thing you can do. He calls for a forceful confrontation with the vacuity of today’s democracies – using an unconventional plethora of references: Hitchcock, Orwell, Fukuyama, Freud and more.
The Wild Places is both an intellectual and a physical journey, and Macfarlane travels in time as well as space. Guided by monks, questers, scientists, philosophers, poets and artists, both living and dead, he explores our changing ideas of the wild. From the cliffs of Cape Wrath, to the holloways of Dorset, the storm-beaches of Norfolk, the saltmarshes and estuaries of Essex, and the moors of Rannoch and the Pennines, his journeys become the conductors of people and cultures, past and present, who have had intense relationships with these places. Certain birds, animals, trees and objects – snow-hares, falcons, beeches, crows, suns, white stones – recur, and as it progresses this densely patterned book begins to bind tighter and tighter. At once a wonder voyage, an adventure story, an exercise in visionary cartography, and a work of natural history, it is written in a style and a form as unusual as the places with which it is concerned. It also tells the story of a friendship, and of a loss. It mixes history, memory and landscape in a strange and beautiful evocation of wildness and its vital importance.
John Berger, Naomi Klein, Arundhati Roy, Joe Sacco and others examine the consequences of the "War on Terror". On October 7th 2001, US-led forces invaded Afghanistan, marking the start of George Bush and Tony Blair’s "War on Terror". Six years on, where have the policies of Bush and Blair left us? Bringing together some of the finest contemporary writers, this wide-ranging anthology, from reportage and “faction” to fiction, explores the impact of this "long war” throughout the world, from Palestine to Iraq, Abu Ghraib, the curtailment of civil liberties and manipulation of public opinion. Published in conjunction with Stop the War Coalition and United for Peace and Justice, it provides an urgent, necessary reflection on the causes and consequences of the ideological "War on Terror".
Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Continuing Challenge to Unify the Laws of Physics tells a fascinating and complex story -- neatly summed up in its sub-title -- about human beings and their attempts to come to grips with perhaps the most intellectually demanding puzzle there is: how does the world work at the most fundamental level and what is the role of mathematics in its description? The book begins with an historical survey of the experimental and theoretical developments that led to the creation of the phenomenally successful so-called ‘Standard Model’ of particle physics around 1975. Despite its successes, the Standard Model does not answer all questions that one would expect it to address, and for the last thirty years physicists have been trying to come up with a better theory. ‘String Theory’ has come to dominate the field of theoretical physics, but in recent years string theorists have found that the theory seems to lead to an unimaginably large number of possibilities and may be inherently unable to make predictions. The author explains what physicist's hopes have been, why they haven't worked out, and what may be more promising directions for investigation.
René Girard (1923-) was Professor of French Language, Literature and Civilization at Stanford Unviersity from 1981 until his retirement in 1995. Violence and the Sacred is Girard's brilliant study of human evil. Girard explores violence as it is represented and occurs throughout history, literature and myth. Girard's forceful and thought-provoking analyses of Biblical narrative, Greek tragedy and the lynchings and pogroms propagated by contemporary states illustrate his central argument that violence belongs to everyone and is at the heart of the sacred. (Translated by Patrick Gregory.)
Haniel Long's curious short book, "The Marvellous Adventure of Cabeza de Vaca" is a novelisation of the memoir of 38-year-old Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, written in the form of a long letter to his King. (A long letter, but a very short book of just 90 pages, with de Vaca's story accompanied by the tale of Cortes' slavegirl Malinche).
In November 1528 a handful of Spaniards were shipwrecked in the Gulf of Mexico. 400 men became 40 and were soon reduced by the harsh conditions to just four. These four then spent 8 years, naked and barefoot, on a journey across the Americas. As they travelled, they developed a miraculous power to heal the poverty-stricken Indians they met along the way. This power came about after "all that we had learned across the water we have had to throw away." A warm fable.
The Tiger that Isn't is that rarest of things: a compelling book about statistics. Easily readable in just a couple of sittings, the book does a superb job at reminding us that numbers can only go so far in describing our very messy, very complicated, very human world: "One number, because it implies one definition, is almost never enough. What single measure, for example, would you choose to express your life's worth". This is not to breed cynicism about what numbers can do, but just to remind us about what they cannot achieve, what remains exceedingly difficult to count. "Numbers have amazing power to put life's anxieties into proportion," but they can be violently reductive.
It seems fashionable to think of religion as an aberration: a style of thinking only credible to fools and fanatics. But fashionable thinking is itself often wrong-headed. Religious thought has helped mankind as often as it has hampered it; has been the cause of great good as well as unspeakable evil. When thinking about religion it is worth remembering both its continuing ubiquity as well as its antiquity. Religion has been with us for a very long time and looks able to renew itself in very many different contexts (and, as John Gray points out in Black Mass, to insert itself squarely inside secular thought too). Whilst the new atheists (Richard Dawkins, AC Grayling, Sam Harris, Michel Onfray et al) are right to be robust in their attacks on religion, they could do with both a little more humility and a lot more history. Karen Armstrong's The Great Transformation could help them out here. Explaining the beginnings of religious faith as we still know it, Armstrong's sensitive book shows us when, how and why certain ideas about human beings -- what we need to prosper, why we are here, how to improve ourselves -- first developed. It was between 800 and 300 BC, "in the time of Buddha, Socrates, Confucius and Jeremiah" that new ways of thinking -- ways of thinking that transformed humanity for ever -- first came about. Those ideas are still with us. The new atheists are right to challenge these notions, but understanding them better should be their first motivation, rather than simply deriding them. Armstrong should be congratulated on on excellent, and very readable, journey back to the beginning of thinking.
Written in 1915 during winter and wartime, Freud’s little-known essay On Transience (included in this volume) records an afternoon conversation with 'a young but already famous poet' and his 'taciturn friend' about mortality, eternity, and the 'sense' of life. In Freud’s Requiem, the philosophical disagreement between Freud and his companions - who may have been the poet Rainer Maria Rilke and his muse and former lover Lou Andreas-Salomé - becomes a prism through which to consider Freud’s creativity as a response to his own experiences, from his passionately curious, lovestruck teenage years to his death after a long struggle with cancer in 1939. Drawing on a variety of literary and historical sources - Homer, Goethe, as well as Freud’s own writings, including his letters - Freud’s Requiem is both an intimate personal drama and a spirited intellectual inquiry.