In the latest instalment of Bedside Table, the Wild Culture team run through what we're reading this month and why - from site-specific art works to esoteric journals.
The Animal Question in Deconstruction
Edited by Lynn Turner, this is a timely, if niche, publication comprised of eleven essays responding to “the animal question” in the writings of Jacques Derrida. The book argues that, whilst the great French theorist is perhaps best known for his work on epistemology and the philosophy of language, he also has much to contribute to current debates about the relationship between humans and animals. It's pitched at an academic audience, but should appeal to non-specialists too. Nicholas Royle's Mole, in particular, (first published in The Uncanny) is a triumph of playful ingenuity.
Issue four of Abraxas International Journal of Esoteric Studies is a sumptuously produced collection of thought-provoking features that range across a host of forms and subject matter. From an essay on the influence of Maria de Miramar, the overlooked second wife of occultist Aleister Crowley, to a fascinating interview with contemporary artist Christine Odlund, and a troubling extract from The Life of Benvenuto Cellini, 1563: this is a diverse and consistently intriguing publication for esoteric specialists and the casually interested alike.
A People's History of the United States
A decisive moment in the writing of American history occurred in 1980 with the publication of Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, which, as the title suggests, eschews tales of the great and the good in favour of the previously overlooked narratives of the “common people”. Critical response divided down political lines, whilst Zinn was also criticised for focusing too much on historiography rather than history, secondary rather than primary sources, but the book remains a rich and provocative account.
Pagan Visions for a Sustainable Future
SPWC member Patricia Beatty writes: “Many inspired writers have contributed to this book. We know that paganism was debunked by the mainstream religions we now have. But I, and many others think that it's time to rediscover the secrets and values carried by paganism. We certainly know that these religions don't appear to be able to handle the saving of our precious planet. This is a lively book that looks at the whole big subject from many different angles...most of them sacred and ancient, but written in contemporary language.”
Art & Place
This big, glossy, new book from celebrated art publishers Phaidon focuses on site-specific art in the Americas and includes beautiful photographs of some 500 such works – from as far back as 11,000 BC right up to the present day. Appropriately arranged geographically rather than chronologically, the book includes such major works as the Rothko Chapel, Robert Smithson's seminal Spiral Jetty and the Nazca lines in Peru, as well as a host of lesser known gems. A fascinating exploration of humanity's continuing desire to create marks in our environments.
Image credit: shutterhacks