Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts

22 August 2012

Bookman's Alley

Bookman's Alley in Evanston was the greatest bookstore around Chicago... on trips to the midwest I always made a trip up there to browse the vast stacks and inhale the special aroma of literature, local history, printing press, wool blanket, and bison skull that permeated the place. The owner had announced that he was selling off his inventory and closing up shop in the spring, and it seemed the time to visit had passed. When I was in Evanston on Monday for lunch we stopped by Bookman's Alley and found it locked up, but the young woman working in the frame shop opposite told us that he had been open over the weekend. It seems like it's still possible to visit, though I don't know how much of the inventory is left. Well worth a trip, last chance to see, carpe diem!

My best find there was an old copy of H.L. Mencken's The American Language. A treasure.

04 August 2011

Dark Mountain Issue 2

Yes, I'm a Dark Mountaineer.  Someone said in the Guardian that he wasn't "climbing the dark mountain..." Which misses the point of the Jeffers poem: we've already climbed the mountain of civilization, and now we begin to stumble downwards, in the dark. Today's economic news shows the point.

Dark Mountain aims at a re-thinking of the paradigms; not collapse, not apocalypse, not the end times. Rather, how does an unsustainable global civilization come unglued, and how might human beings respond to that unraveling --  creatively, psychologically, practically, spiritually?

A highlight of the new issue is Vinay Gupta's "Death and the Human Condition."
"Over-consumption and aggression to the planet and other people cannot go on indefinitely, and we with either transform or crash, but the age of the mall-dinosaurs is over and living in the truth strips out the lies. It does so without any bold statement, with no advert in the papers proclaiming that the end is night, but with the gentle and gradualist refusal to acknowledge other people's social fictions around consumption. It is the least we can do....

...We live in a culture which as made birth relatively safe, sex less mysterious, and death largely invisible, yet still from all three timeless points, the numinous shines.
   So, too, there is a strange numinosity around the death of capitalism, the survival challenges we pose the ecosystem, and the green shoots of a new culture which ache to climb the wreckage, and instead find themselves shadowed by dead-while-standing oaks."  (Dark Mountain, Issue 2, 78).

More at

12 July 2010

Apocalyptica: Little, Big

I've been collecting and reading books on the coming collapse (aka the Long Emergency, end of Civilization, Transapocalypse, or XVI = The Tower).  Most of these are nonfiction and fairly obvious, but send a note if you want titles.  More surprising are fiction and occult titles that address the same issues. 

Little, Big, or The Fairies Parliament is a long fantasy novel by John Crowley published in 1981.  My feeling on reading it is along the lines of : Where have you been all my life?  It's amazing that I missed it, but wonderful because there's so much more to ready by this author.   Little, Big is a sort of family epic focused on an extended family that traffics with Faery.  It's located in a space similar to upstate New York and NYC and covers approximately the 20th Century.  The plot is slow and meditative, with much interior rumination by the characters, and conversations often full of pauses and omitted information. 

The latter part of the action takes place in a nation that is falling apart, under the sway of an incompetent dictator, a lost medieval Emperor who presides over a collapsing economy, communication grid, and energy systems.  It has nothing to do with the Collapse we now face, but the specific details of life under the Lecturer Eigenblick are all too relevant, like the block of formerly-elegant New York townhouses converted to a small farm , with the facades and front rooms of the buildings encircling the crop rows, and goats housed in the former garden apartments.  A beautiful, transporting book.