It’s pretty rare these days to find something that offers such rich descriptions of the labor forces in the world’s most lucrative industries. The experiences are genuine and highlight themes like intellectual frustration, exploitation, and physical pain, common issues encountered by female workers in casinos, but more importantly, female workers throughout all sectors.
This is a book that is delightfully vulgar, bravely contrary, openly critical of media, government (especially the current one), the news, television in general, new age clap trap, and pretty much everything else. If they err on the side of being just a little too confident that they’re smarter than the average bear, it’s probably because they are. A Short History of Stupid is a panacea to all the soft serve we’re fed on a regular basis.
There is so much to learn here, not just about Glass, but about ourselves—how to live, how to learn, how to create. Towards the end of the book, Glass talks about his work on his Cocteau Trilogy in which he says, of Cocteau, that he “is teaching about creativity in terms of the power of the artist, which we now understand to be the power of transformation” (378) The same can be said of Words Without Music.
Martinez’ new book, Finding Love Again, is another book full of stories about people who have made a go of love on their second or more attempts. Though the stories are presented without too much editorial interruption, Martinez provides a kind of cumulative wisdom as the book progresses, building up to practical tips to go along with such a wealth of anecdotal advice that it’s hard not to feel like it’s entirely possible to find true love, at any age.
Marilyn Churley’s non-fiction work, Shameless, is a mother-child reunion story, and more. The former Ontario (Canada) cabinet minister has written a memoir about the search for the baby she relinquished in 1968, and, as well, a history of the struggle to get the Ontario adoption disclosure law changed. She shows how social mores of the 1960s were hostile to women’s needs, and how men’s concerns delayed the effort to open adoption records to adoptees and birth parents.
White’s search for community confirmed her belief, first expressed in Lonely, that social policy affects people’s sense of belonging. Her good experiences at a public pool and community garden were made possible by elected officials of the past who directed tax dollars toward construction of a the community centre that housed the pool and the park that had space for the garden.
Ellwood packs a great deal of information into his 192 pages. He discusses ominous signs of strain on the earth, such as the depletion of major world fisheries, the melting of Arctic ice, and depletion of fossil fuel resources. Capitalism, he says, is to blame for the relentless pillaging of Earth’s resources. Though capitalism “wears different masks…adapts to different political configurations,” the common denominator is growth. Like a shark, it constantly moves forward, consuming. Profit, not production, is its over-riding preoccupation, as Karl Marx pointed out.
Cage wrote once that chance (the use of aleatory procedures in composition) liberated him ‘from what I had thought to be freedom and which actually was only the accretion of habits and tastes.’ He abhorred whatever was consistent and predictable, hence his difficulties with German (though not only German) organisers, alluded to here. His creative ambition was to always transcend himself, and clearly this was for Cage an existential (spiritual) aspiration too.
The “Principles” range from pithy to profound, including tips like “Don’t dress like a protester” and deeper matters like “Take leadership from those most impacted.” This latter principle means that those on the receiving end of a great injustice have the most to gain from a successful action but will bear the brunt of a failed one. They know the problem and potential solutions better than outside experts do, and their knowledge must be heard and respected within the movement.
Happy to have got ahold of Rob Humphreys’ guide to one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Vienna is relatively small as capital cities go, hence many of its key cultural attractions are close together, and it is surrounded by beautiful countryside – the much vaunted, verdant Wienerwald. There’s much to see and do.