November 21, 2016

Some Recent Readings mid November

Footnotes on Gaza: Sacco

In Footnotes in Gaza, Sacco really humanizes the conflicts that define the middle east in our current century. Probing deep into the past – 50 years when he wrote it, 60 years now – show how much things are the same in the Gaza strip. 

But he doesn’t try to take the information from the contemporary times or the history he seeks to over-generalize the conflict, just trying to say that these things are happening. That we see them from the Palestinian viewpoint helps to make their cause more sympathetic. They just want to live their lives. I bet that the Israelis would say the same thing. For me, though, I am sympathetic towards the more indigenous people than the ones who have had the support of two global hegemons to suppress the natives (and it is hard to speak of natives, as so many nations have flown their flags over that land). 

The endnotes are some of the most interesting parts, where Sacco pulls the transcripts and you can see how some of the things he draws are shaped by the interviews he did, even though the graphic section is more compelling.

Like That (Poems by Matthew Yeager)

I’m not going to lie, I picked this one up because of the blurb by Terrance Hayes.

And I think I was well rewarded. Though these are longer poems than I’d usually be attracted to, they work in a narrative sense, especially one about being a waiter and another persona poem about Henry Hudson.

But the strongest poem is the final, longest work, “A Jar of Balloons or the Uncooked Rice,” which is just a long sequence of thought provoking questions that made it hard to get through. It did wonders in sparking my memory and wonder, like making me wonder how I remembered my phone number from years ago for the first time in a long time.

Four Futures: Peter Frase

Frase is pretty certain that capitalism is on the way out. In this book, one he likens to science fiction (maybe to avoid being called a failed profit, one who made predictions that didn’t come true like the Manifesto or the Economic Possibilities of Our Grandchildren, perhaps? Perhaps not). The thing is that as the current mode of production and distributing resources burns itself out, there are multiple ways that this can go. Frase draws two axes, one between abundance and scarcity and another between equality and hierarchy.
These axes mean that there are four possible futures, as the title suggests: communism, socialism, rentism, and exterminism. Basically, communism is everyone having lots, and exterminism is very few having some and the rest having nothing. The others are between that. Frase draws on both other theorists and other science fiction writers to draw the world of the future that might exist. It seems that we’re aiming for heaven and just might end up in hell. It’s all about the paths that we take. So much for making America great again, we just want to be able to not starve. But maybe I’m just being a pessimist.  

Time Travel: Glieck

This is one of those books that is full of interesting information and that you cannot put down. The problem for me was that it was just full of information and didn’t resolve itself.  It was more a closed loop, circling back to itself and within itself, never resolving. Circling, never touching, ever tangential to itself only just.