Another in a series (whose central purpose thus far is unabashed procrastination). Again, apologies to the book averse. But really, if you’ve already read this far…So, here we go…
Frank Herbert, Soul Catcher (New York: Berkley, 1972).
A novel. Set in the modern day (i.e. 1972) with all the action taking place in the woods, right across the way here on the Olympic Peninsula. Herbert is the author of the sci-fi classic Dune, so it was a bit surprising to find him writing early 70s social criticism by way of Native American magic realism. Thinking about it, however, and remembering the heavy nature-spirit angle in the initial works of the Dune series (which became serialized and bad at a certain point…), I suppose it’s not that much of a surprise. Even less surprising when one mentions he came out to the Olympic Peninsula in 1971, bought a little land and set to homesteading. Lots of vivid description of an environment I now understand. Weird that I totally relate to this book (and to the message and the play of materialism and spiritualism) due to my recent alterations in life path. Vague, I know. Hopefully you get my drift. Alien words like katsuk and hoquat are now rattling around in my head…
Sadly, I wish you good luck picking this one up at Chapters…
Isaac Asimov, Words of Science and the History Behind Them (New York: Signet, 1969 ).
I just finished teaching a class on science (at the most basic level) and re-made the essential discovery that, like everything else, our understanding of science begins with language (thank you, Marquis de Condorcet). Words, in other words. Asimov scribbled maniacally throughout his career, producing hundreds of books. Of course one would have to recommend his Foundation series, or the classic short story collection I, Robot, or even his wonderful short story “Nightfall” (perhaps the most over-anthologized sci-fi story of all time…) before suggesting Words of Science, but there is still something quintessentially Asimov (and thus readable) in this relatively innocuous reference book. Guess that’s why they kept publishing him.
Aleister Crowley, 777 and Other Qabalistic Writings (York Beach, ME: Weiser, 1998 ).
Um…Not sure I’m ready for Hermetic Qabalah on any real level at this point in my life, but when I am, this book will surely provide an inroad. For now, I’ll just read through the fascinating introduction. Looks very Golden Dawn. Obviously.
Douglass Mulhall, Our Molecular Future: How Nanotechnology, Robotics, Genetics, and Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Our World (Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2002).
I know, I know. Futurism is lame. Just ask Ray Kurzweil (well, don’t ask him…). But there are realms of technological development that will be quite significant eventually and they bear keeping abreast of. This is one of those popular books that helps you do that. Very “third culture”. These guys (tellingly, they are mostly guys…) have a journal now — Edge — lots of good futurism stuff to be found there. Remember, kids, futurism is lame. Unless, of course, you are Arthur C. Clarke.
Daniel Pinchbeck, 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoalt (New York: Penguin, 2006).
Even though I’m pretty critical of this guy, I picked up his book and am giving it a chance. A journalistic approach to the subject, which is understandable given Pinchbeck’s background. The first 75 pages have held my attention, so I’ll keep reading…
Robert Anton Wilson, The New Inquisition (Tempe, AZ: New Falcon, 1999 ).
A reprint of a classic by RAW, replete with his inspired mix of criticism, humour, anarchy and skepticism. The first couple of chapters of this book read like a popularization of Feyerabend’s Against Method and other strongly critical takes on instrumental rationalism and modern techno-science. Philosophy of science for people who don’t want to read philosophy of science.
An eclectic and esoteric mix this time. I’m on an unusual reading tangent right now. It won’t last, however — too much reading outside of these parameters is required to prepare for my fall teaching. That and the fact that I haven’t even finished a “required” text from my last list. Ah, well.