top 5 (ish) books you've read so far in the Year Of Our Lord 2013
In no particular order:
Ian Bogost - A Slow Year - I got a lot of Ian Bogost from my girlfriend over Christmas, so he would probably show up a few times here, but of all of them A Slow Year is the one I dig the most. The book is actually a manual to 4 games he programmed for the Atari VCS and later emulated for the PC as “game poems.” He makes these interesting arguments in it about finding common ground between poems and games:
“Perhaps games and poetry share a common, if underdeveloped lineage. Good games, like good poems, are provacation machines. Despite the implications of fixity and visual perception the name Imagism suggests, the stuff of provocation in poems and in games are the same: the behavior of artifacts.”
He stays pretty close to Williams and Pound even though I think there’s a lot that could be said about Dada and Conceptualisms, but it’s an interesting approach to games and poetry that for my own interests I find super-rich.
Jena Osman - Public Figures - I’m not exactly sure if I read this in early or in late Winter, but it’s a great book of poems from the great poet Jena Osman so it’s going in here. It’s the first book I’ve read about drones and the weird subject position they represent/allow and the history of several landmark statues in Philadelphia. Her poems are always doing wild things with multiple sources and subject positions while holding them together as a purposeful whole. And since I started writing and thinking about drones it’s served as a really helpful guide to how to work with drones and the material around them (it pointed me to this transcript of drone operators that was really informative).
Alexander Galloway - Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture -Galloway is my #2 guy for game studies after Ian Bogost, but I’ve only been able to find little bits of his writing here and there (I got to sit in on a lecture he gave at Temple though, which was pretty awesome). So I finally got a hold of his first book and it kind of blew the lid on a lot of the things I’ve been thinking about with game ontology. I have dubbed his first chapter required reading for game studies: so many books begin with chapters describing and defining what games are as cultural objects, and while they all come to a very similar conclusion (that games are difficult to make a stable category for) I think Galloway does the most in probing this unstable category for meaningful valences. His Interface Effect is another book I read and loved this year, but it’s so dense I don’t really feel confident talking about it much.
Norma Cole - Natural Light - Hearing a poet read their poems often goes a long way to endear me to those poems, and since I got the chance to read her book Natural Light, attend her reading, and talk with her about my thesis, I feel really endeared to Norma Cole. The poems are beautiful, I guess I’d call them postmodern lyrics she wrote while attending an art event in The Bay. Here’s one I really like:
Nano-Shadesthe male deliberately positions himself over his lover's fangs the key is gravity blankets, personal items and clothing, extra-solar planets (class M) like our sun, the memory of history, empty or full scared the daylights out of the name
Theodore Besterman Crystal-Gazing My girlfriend also gave me this historical and cultural overview of the practice of crystal-gazing, scrying and other divination practices based on looking deeply into reflective or dark surfaces. Apparently the older crystal-gazing practices involved a “pure boy or girl” to look into bowls of water or fresh streams or someone’s fingernails. It’s really strange and fascinating stuff and includes a chapter about how to detect fraud in your crystal gazer.
I’m currently reading the new Agamben book The Highest Poverty and since I already have The Time That Remains and my girlfriend has The Open, we’re going to get our Agamben book club going.
Control, by contrast, is native to the post-Fordist societies of the new millennium. Thus, to say that our thoughts are with control means that our thoughts are directed at the mode of production, for control is at the root of how value is extracted and circulates today. Control is, in this sense, a synonym for political economy. Of course one must not discard the way in which control acts on the body. But more importantly, one must today focus special attention on the way in which control acts on the realm of the “immaterial”: knowledge work, thought, information and software, networks, technical memory, ideology, the mind. (Yes, all these things are incontrovertibly material. Ideology is practice, etc.) Control can be defined as the condition of possibility for the immaterial. Likewise, control is the condition of possibility for thought. This is not to say that we are all victims of some sort of totalitarian doomsday mind control. Instead, one might think of control as the horizon of possibility for the immaterial, in the same way that Deleuze once proposed sense as the horizon of possibility for any proposition whatsoever. Control is the pure ideational event of the immaterial. Control is not a form or a type of information, it is the indication that form has achieved a state of information as such. Thus, to shift from a philosophy of “what is” to a philosophy of “what does,” it is necessary to approach control as the very horizon of any activity whatsoever, as the horizon of generic doing.
Perhaps this is what it might mean, in Stiegler’s language, to take care.
Alexander Galloway - “Bernard Stiegler, or Our Thoughts Are With Control,” in French Theory Today: An Introduction to Possible Futures - 2010