The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

Books I like and highly recommend!

The following are books I've read or am currently reading, mostly the
former. They're wonderful and I think are definitely worth your attention.

Two books that bear comparison, both from Salt

Catherine Daly, DaDaDa and
Loss Pequeno Glazier, Anatman, Pumpkin Seed, Algorithm

These are first of all both beautiful books. And they work through
technology and technologies in odd ways, ways that configure the
integration of the technological into body and poetic discourse, as if
spectral communications were phantom limbs or tendrils extending from
desktops and PDAs , within and without. Glazier works out of an
incredible, intense, Mexican and Cuban (for the most part) matrix, which
becomes himself as well. His is an 'important' book within emerging
discourses of real and virtual continents. And Daly's work as well, with
its internal technologies, technologies as breathing, or as electric
Marguerite, mythos, scaled histories. I really recommend these books
highly; I found them inspiring and turning language towards infinities
both electronic and intensely real.

>From Raw Nerve Books

Sue Thomas, Hello World, travels in virtuality

This is an odd work, a mix of real and imaginary journeys, discoursing on
psychogeography, Bachelard, and a broad-based view of the Net along the
way. As a mix it's intense and entrancing, and it's demonstrates the ease
with which computers, electronic communications, and lives all intertwine
beyond the home. This isn't the typical mobile technology journey, but a
journey of integration, and it's as such that I highly recommend it. My
only concern - and I have no answer for this - how much, today, should one
describe the Net and its communications systems? As Katherine Hayles
points out on the back cover, the book is 'Highly recommended for first-
time users and those who want to try dipping their toes into the
cyberwaters.' But for those of us who are familiar with the technologies,
the value is elsewhere - following this journey, and Thomas's lived and
interpenetrated spaces, across the world. There is an associated website
by the way, . (This is by the way a
work I wish I could have written, but my own journeys have seemed too
monstrous and tangled, too compressed. There's a sense of space in
Thomas's book that's both open and comforting.)

>From Atelos

Brian Kim Stefans, Fashionable Noise: On Digital Poetics, which _is_ more
or less digital poetics itself. I love dipping into this work. There's a
huge gap between it and Richards' Practical Criticism, but I like them
both for their caress of writing, and _fascination_ with their target
texts, reproduced among themselves, authorships in question. The Scotch is
there in Stefans' work, for example, both real and imaginary. There are
numerous sidebars and footnotes as well; the text skitters. This is simply
a wonderful book.

>From Minnesota comes

Anne Weinstone, Avatar Bodies, A Tantra for Posthumanism. I have diffi-
culty at this point with theoretical posthumanist texts that discourse on
desire; on the other hand, I'm fascinated by the relationships Weinstone
draws or breathes with Tantra; it's this which holds me. I don't feel
capable of commenting on the text itself at this point, except to note the
pleasure it gives, as well as assumptions about multiple selves,
virtualities, and our selves avatars. It reminds me of Lingis' work - and
in general where is Lingis in cyber discourse? But then I'm ignorant. -
I do want to stree that I am reading and rereading sections of this work,
scurrying across it, another skittering, and I find the text amazing in
this regard.

>From O'Reilly

One more technology book, which I immediately applied and have been using
furiously - Preston Gralla, Windows XP Hacks, part of the Hacking series.
This book is simply great - I've applied at least 20-30 of the hacks to my
own (video/audio/blender/text) laptop system. I've used other WinXP books
to good effect, but this one in particular has been extremely useful. I
couldn't have done without it.

Some older books if you find them -

Kossovo, Heroic Songs of the Serbs, translated by Helen Rootham (with the
original texts), Houghton Mifflin Company, 1920. This volume focuses on
the battle of Kossovo 1389, and the starkness and repetitiveness of the
songs have parallels of course with Yugoslavian epics, Homer, etc. These
are intense pieces, some of them fragments, and they've already entered my
dreams. The only problem with the book is its shortness.

Serge Gavronsky, Toward a new Poetics, Contemporary Writing in France,
consists of interviews of texts; it's from 1994, and I should have known
the work! Authors include Deguy, Gugliemi, Hocquard, even Pleynet. (The
last's book on painting is incredible by the way.) Get it if you can.
Enough said.

In Bhargava's Dictionary, Anglo-Hindi, the definitions are in both English
and Hindi, and this is one of the most wonderful sources of words I've
come across; the definitions are often beautiful. My edition is the 12th
from 1966, and I've been using it regularly. Extersion, act of wiping or
rubbing. Tortive, twisted. Airmanship, the art of handling an airship.
Gothamite, a great fool.

Legge's I Ching - I like this for the endless notes and clarity of the
appendices; it's not as poetic as the Wilhelm, but I'm not using the work
for divination or poetry. Dover edition. There's a small paperback
(Mentor, 1971) edition of the book rearranged with the hexagram names and
other minor changes, edited by Raymond van Over; I recommend this as well,
especially for clarity.

Burton Watson, Records of the Historian, Chapters from the Shih Chi of
Ssu-ma Ch'ien, California, and Sima Qian, Historical Records, translated
by Dawson, Oxford World's Classic. I can't get enough of this work; the
Dawson edition shows why. There are parallels between the Qin and Bush
dynasties that are unnerving; hopefully both will last an equally short
amount of time.

Finally I'm reading the full version of The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon,
translated and edited by Ivan Morris in two volumes (one text, one notes),
published in 1967. It's quite different, in fact, due in part to the
sections of lists, and I much prefer it. I haven't seen this reissued, but
if you have a chance at all, find and read it (i.e. in preference to the
Penguin edition).


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