Friday, April 19, 2013

Reading lists!

1. Michael Johnson's Overweening Generalist blog had a recent posting, "What's a Generalist Good For?" which characterized his "favorite writers and intellectuals" but didn't name them. So, in the comments, I asked for examples. Michael obliged me:

Robert Anton Wilson, Philip K. Dick, Terence McKenna, Marshall McLuhan, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Robert Hass, Peter Lamborn Wilson/Hakim Bey, Tom Robbins, HP Lovecraft, Joseph Campbell, Raymond Chandler, William S. Burroughs, Timothy Leary, Clifford Pickover, Rudy Rucker, Thomas Pynchon, Douglas Hofstadter, Gregory Bateson, Colin Wilson and Giambattista Vico, Montaigne, Herodotus, Shakespeare, Freud and Lucretius as a mere start. 

For "straight" or academic writers: Korzybski, Chomsky, Lakoff, Damasio, Peter Berger, Randall Collins, E.O. Wilson, Mark Monmonier, Oliver Sacks (recently come out in a big way as not all that "straight"!), Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Robert Sapolsky, and Elaine Pagels.

There's a very readable yet hardcore academic book by a colleague of Lakoff's at Berkeley: From Molecule To Mind, by Jerome Feldman. I read that over and over and over. I find it very trippy and totally wonderful...and I always wonder what he'd say if I told him this. I think the ideas about how language actually works is finally - probably - "right." And I consider this work an ideal extension of Korzybski. But it's only one boook. And yet: more than enough for me. Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow is becoming sort of like that for me, too. Nick Herbert's Quantum Reality has functioned like that for me for a long time.

I'm leaving out some people, but this is me typing an answer quickly...

I'd put my team up against the New York Intellectuals, any day, any time, any place.

2. Another RAW fan, Roman Tsivkin, is fluent in both Russian and English. I mentioned that I'm jealous he can read Nabokov in both Russian and English and he replied, "With Nabokov, there's no reason for jealousy. His Russian pales in comparison to his English (he admitted as much himself)." So I switched to being jealous that Roman can knowledgeably compare Nabokov's Russian novels with his English ones.

Anyway, I asked Roman for his favorite Russian writers, and he humored me, too:

The usual suspects: Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Gogol, Bely, Bulgakov, Ilf and Petrov, Babel, Lermontov, Mandelstam, Mayakovsky. The unusual suspects: Krzhizhanovsky, Shalamov, Pelevin, the Strugatsky bros. Mikhail Shishkin is my current fave.

Oh, almost forgot the wonderful Daniil Kharms. Russian-style Dada. Or, I suppose, Yesyes. Some examples.

3. Robert Anton Wilson's recommended book list (toward the bottom of the page.)


Andrew Crawshaw said...

So many people when talking about russian writers miss out zinoviev, I mean his works aren't immediatley enjoyable, but they are satirical, intelligent, and in the best possible way rambling diatribes against the mediocrity of soviet russia, that grow on you, if you stick with them. Some of the passages are like lewis carrol in their logical surrealism and have passages that live up to rabalaise pynchon, and sterne, in there rambling funny digressions, also the novels (if you want to call them that, they are more like surreal sociological essays with thin plots) are huge.

Andrew Crawshaw said...

Of those mentioned I think Bulgakove is my favourite of those I have read, which is not many, and some I have even heard of. will be writing these down for future reference.

fyreflye said...

Speaking of Rudy Rucker as an MJ favorite I should mention that RR's latest novel, Turing and Burroughs, is available from the author as a free download in a number of formats here:

michael said...

fyreflye: thanks for that link.

A Turing musical is a hit.

Where the hell have I been? (Don't answer that!)