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May 2006
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puripnon [userpic]
Reading Group

A number of us have been looking for excuses and/or opportunities to socialize with other members of the lsu_literati  community or intelligent folks in general. I propose that we start a reading group that meets every other week off campus, at my apartment or in a coffee shop.

Some possibilities for books:

1) The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life by Erving Goffman. This is a modern sociological classic. It looks at the way we present ourselves to others in terms of dramatic performances. Definitely of interest to everyone here, as livejournal is nothing except the presentation of self.

2) The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom. This is a neo-conservative classic. Allan Bloom, the gay atheist uncle of neo-conservativism, wrote this book in response to attempts by colleges to diversify their courses, especially in the humanities. The quality of his arguments and prose style are matched only by his pomposity. Also, you can buy the book for under a dollar on Amazon.

3) Simulacra and Simulation by Jean Baudrillard. This is perhaps the most pomo (postmodern) book EVER. Baudrillard argues that we have lost reality to simulation, that the world is now more fictitious than real. For the vulgar among us, you might want to read this book, as it was featured in The Matrix. Neo hid a floppy disk in a copy of the book (get it... the book isn't even a book... forget it).

4) Labyrinths by Jorge Borges. Though I would like to avoid ficciones, I'm putting this on the list because it is one of the best collections of short stories that I've read. Almost every French philosopher or culture theorist in the last forty years has dropped Borges's name at least ten times.

5) Empire by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. This is a very very fashionable work of neo-marxist political thought. The authors are so far left that they make Michael Moore look like Pat Buchanan. Love it or hate it, it's an important and hefty book which is inspiring and will inspire a great deal of debate.

If anyone is interested in any of these works or has suggestions for other books (preferably challenging non-fiction or very very challenging fiction), please reply. I'd like to start this in the next two weeks if possible..


I proffer The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky in keeping with our recently completed philosophy class.

Description, since I forgot. It follows the events that take place when a Prince named Myshkin returns to Russia from Switzerland, where he recieved treatment for blackouts and learning difficulties. Many of the characters view his honesty and trusting nature as idiocy (not that they think those are idiotic to have, per se), and it's interesting to see what happens when he has to actually function in society.

Good stuff, I promise.

I've read Notes, Brothers, and the Double. Haven't read that yet.

I still lean more towards non-fiction.

Understandable, but you need a little fiction in your life so you don't become too anti-social, which readings gobs of nonfiction did to me for a good...four years.

yeah, i'm interested. started reading the closing of the american mind--allan bloom is an intellectual masturbator.

And that's why his book is on the reading list. I also own a copy of his delightful Love and Friendship, which is a much much better read in my opinion.

I would dig joining

My vote is for Labyrinths.

Re: I would dig joining

so far, that's one vote for Labyrinths.

Anyone disagree?