Antilibrary

So many books to read, so little time.

Archive for October 16th, 2008

Themed Reading List II

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Adam Elkus

Topic: Soviet Operational Art and Theory

The Soviets exerted a large influence on the development of operational art–the bridge between tactics and strategy. It’s preferable to read Soviet military theory as a primary source, despite the turgid English translations and the Orwellian language involved.

1. V. Y. Savkin, The Basic Principles of Operational Art and Tactics–A Soviet View.

2. V.G. Reznichenko, Tactics: A Soviet View.

3. Aleksandr Svechin, Strategy.

4. V. Triandfillov. The Nature and Operations of Modern Armies.

5. Patrick J. Porter (ed),  Soviet Strategic Deception.

6. David Glantz, Soviet Military Operational Art: In Pursuit Of Deep Battle.

7. Glantz, The Military Strategy of the Soviet Union: A History.

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Written by Adam Elkus

October 16, 2008 at 11:22 pm

Hyperreality and Democracy

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Adam Elkus

I have been planning to re-read Baudrillard’s Simulacra and Simulations (a key part of my Quantum Library), so I perked up when Struggles With Philosophy analyzed the debates as a form of hyperreality:

Can the Presidential Debates be called debates? The key to understanding a hyperreal society, in the Baudrillard sense, is to trace how that what we called the ‘real’ is being replaced with simulations. To call the 7th October debate a ‘town hall’ debate is an attempt to hide its reality as a Television event. It is not a ‘town hall’ debate, in the traditional sense; it is the replacement of ‘debating’ with the simulation of debate. Someone maybe should have told this to John McCain. His performance was more suited to a ‘real’ debate than a television debate.

John McCain’s pacing and movements indicated that he believed he was performing in an actual town hall, rather than a televised, staged event designed to recreate the imagined intimacy of small-town America. This gets to the heart of the obsession with forms of what is viewed as “authentic” (e.g. white, blue collar, and rural) America that the candidates and the media express with their constant fulminations over “Joe Sixpack” and the now-infamous “Joe the Plumber.” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Adam Elkus

October 16, 2008 at 10:52 pm

Two favourites and a question

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Fabius Maximus Cunctator

Recently I have bought a highly interesting 1941 Flammarion edition of Montaigne`s Essais which has been in the library of a well known German noble family (inscribed 15.9.1941, family exlibris stamped in). The pages have, however, not been cut as is necessary with many French books of that period.

I ve meant to buy the Essais in their original French for something like 20 yrs, but I have never done that until 1 month ago or so. So where do we categorize books we always wanted to buy but didn `t ? Imaginary antilibarary ? What do you think ?

Another book I didn t buy that day, Mme. de Stael, De l`Allemagne. Well, there aren`t many people interested in that sort of book nowadays and it will probably added to my bulging shelves on my next business trip to that place or via mail order from that shop later. Again, is it part of my AL already ?

Written by fabiusmcunctator

October 16, 2008 at 7:57 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Law of the Jungle

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Kotare

This morning I started making inroads in my anti-library, grabbing E H Carr’s What is History? (1961) as I headed for work. As an undergraduate I read this classic and pithy work on the theory of history, but that was so long ago that it now counts as unread.

Next to Carr sat Robert Fisk’s The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East (2005) – a worthy tome, described by the Boston Globe as a “magisterial report from the shifting front lines of the Middle East”.

Weighing in at almost 1300 pages of text, this muscular slab of a book commands my anti-library, overshadowing its puny neighbours. “Pick me!” it bellowed. My heart quailed. I should read it, I know – it’s been hanging out in the anti-library since January – but sometimes you just want slim books that can be swiftly read and don’t weigh you down as you run for the bus.

Is there a process of natural selection at play here in the anti-library? A law of the jungle, where small and lithe books are read while large and cumbersome tomes remain unopened on the shelves? Time will tell.

Written by kotare1718

October 16, 2008 at 9:03 am

Posted in Nonfiction

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Themed Reading List 1

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Adam Elkus

Topic: Crowd Control in Low-Intensity Conflict

A crucial element in counterinsurgency is creating civil order. But crowds, especially in massed urban environments of the future, can become easily inflamed and trigger riots–harming that order and forcing the police/occupying authority to risk the use of lethal force. There is, however, a growing literature on crowds and mass power. This is a short reading list designed to give an overview of crowd behavior, crowd psychology, and riot control.

  1. Elias Cannetti, Crowds and Power.
  2. Gustave Le Bon, The Crowd: A Study of the Popular Mind.
  3. Charles Mackay, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.
  4. Howard Rheingold, Smart Mobs.
  5. Antonio Negri, The Multitude: War and Peace in the Age of Empire.
  6. Department of the Army, FM 3-11.11, “Flame, Riot Control, and Herbicide Operations.”
  7. David Riesman, The Lonely Crowd.
  8. Steven Henry Strogatz, Sync: The Science of Spontaneous Order.
  9. James Surowiecki, The Wisdom of Crowds
  10. Garrett Hardin, “The Tragedy of the Commons”, Science, Vol. 162, No. 3859 (December 13, 1968), pp. 1243-1248.
  11. Nick Lewer, “Non-Lethal Weapons, Operational and Policy Development,” The Lancet, 362: S20, December 2003.

Written by Adam Elkus

October 16, 2008 at 1:29 am

Rap Criticism and the Figure of the Hater

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Adam Elkus

One cliche of music criticism, especially by old-school rock critics, is the idea of hip hop as simply a bottomless pit of hollow bling-ish materialism. I was reminded of this by reading some archived Robert Christgau reviews for Rolling Stone and the Village Voice. The “Dean of Rock Critics” is particularly set on this view, using it to advance his general argument about the decline of rock music (something I’m not going to quibble with).

Defenders of hip hop make the fallacious argument that an opposition exists between soulless material rap and “conscious” political hip hop that contains the seeds of revolution. This argument is wishful thinking for left-leaning music critics.  Most rappers are materialist and those that are political are either wishy-washy “We are the World” types recording advertisements for Gap Third World debt relief campaigns or raving conspiracy theorists rapping about CIA crack sales, 9/11 Loose Change, the Illuminati, and UFOs.

Rather, rap’s true conflict takes place within the zone of the material. On one side, the groupie-having, Cristal-spilling, Bentley with spinners driving player. On the other, the “stone cold player hater” who is forever trying to stop the player’s “shine.” The conflict between the player and the hater is a historically under-examined aspect of rap music criticism.

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Written by Adam Elkus

October 16, 2008 at 12:53 am