Ex Libris. Books & Boooks

What is a book?

"I hitched a ride with a vending machine repair man. He said he's been down this road more than twice. He was high on intellectualism. I've never been there, but the brochure looks nice...." ("Every day is a winding road", Sheryl Crow)

Josef Pieper


Leisure: The basis of culture

The Nazis in Auschwitz were just caricaturing our credo in the 20th Century: "Arbeit macht frei". Prof. Pieper disagrees with it: Tolle, lege!

Wilfred Bion


A memoir of the future

"If psycho-analytic intuition does not provide a stamping ground for wild asses[1], where is a zoo to be found to preserve the species?" (p.5)

Ronald Bruzina


Edmund Husserl and Eugen Fink: Beginnings and ends in phenomenology 1928-1938

Thinking about Husserl's philosophy and Fink's elaboration of it: The meontic.

Eugen Fink


Play as symbol of the world

Husserl's designated philosophical heir's later thoughts about the relation between play and human living.

Martin Heidegger &
Eugen Fink


Heraclitus Seminar

Discussion of Heraclitus's philosophy, focusing on the image of Fire as a metaphor for the relation between Being and beings. [Northwestern University Press; originally published by University of Alabama Press]

John Sallis and
Kenneth Maly, Eds.


Heraclitean Fragments: A companion volume to the Heidegger/Fink seminar on Heraclitus

Comments by several philosophy professors on the Heigegger/Fink seminar (above).

Martin Heidegger


Heraclitus (Julia Assiante and S. Montgomery Ewegen, trans.)

"The Inception of Occidental Thinking" and "Logic: Heraclitus's Doctrine of the Logos"

Martin Heidegger


The Beginning of Western Philosophy

Anaximander and Parmenides. You don't need to agree with everything Heidegger writes here to come to suspect everything you were taught about the Pre-Socratics was at best misguided. Don't drink the Kool-Aid hemlock.

Ludwig Wittgenstein


Philosophical Investigations

Philosofun. Wittgenstein had Asperger's syndrome, which means he at least sometimes saw things normal people have been successfully socially conditoinsed to not see. Also, either he did not know philosobabble jargon or chose to not deploy it, so the book is easy reading compared to, say, Immanuel Kant's "Critique of Judgment".

Norwood Russell


Perception and Discovery

An introduction to scientific inquiry. I (BMcC[18-11-46-503]) took Hanson's course as an Yale undergrad. 55 years later, I am trying to learn some of it. I saw in reality a double-reading image, +2022.05.09: the shadow of a corner of the 2nd floor of my nextdoor neighbor's house "read" either as (a) the dark underside of the 2nd floor sticking out beyond the roof of the 1st floor below, or (b) the shadow cast by the edge of the 2nd floor dormer onto the 1st floor roof extending beyond it below.

Dian Hanson


Santillo: La petite mort

How women pleasure themselves. Rrose Sélavy.

Richard Wilhem /
Cary Baynes


The I Ching or The Book of Changes (Bollingen series XIX)

Classic Chinese oracle.

Mark Jordan


The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology

Study of psycho-sociological management of human sexuality in the Middle Ages by the Roman Catholic Church, with broader applicability.[2]

Hermann Broch


Lost Son: Hermann Broch's letters to his son, 1925-1928

Broch's correspondence with his late teenage son, who was irresponsible and mainly interested in fast automobile and rich boarding school sports. Father tried to talk reason to him but also was an enabler.

Gregor von Rezzori
(H.F. Broch de Rothermann, trans.)


The snows of yesteryear

Autobiographical essays of a boy who grew up in the decay of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after world War I. I bought the book because my friend, "Broch" translated it. Similarities to my own childrearing including the decayed British public school wannabe: "a world of stereotypes... which contained no real human beings but merely standard roles whose comportment was assigned irrespective of individuality.... (p. 93)

Linda Hopkins


False Self: The life of Masud Khan

Due to my troubled background with small-minded people in psychoanalytic training, I (BMcC[18-11-46-503]) found this book extremely valuable. A lay person might find less interest in some of it.

Timo Miettinen


Husserl and the idea of Europe

A partial antidote for wokism. I read it to try to recover from the shock and disgust of a New York Times article about political correctness in New York's expensive private schools, e.g.: Dalton. A disappointing book.

Elizabeth Eisenstein


Divine art, infernal machine: The reception of printing in the west from first impressions to the sense of an ending

What a book should be. More food for thought on a single page than 6 years of so-called "prep" school, or even 4 years of Yale. But then maybe also I have learned from bad examples better how to appreciate a good thing in the intervening half-century. If God created the universe, uniform printed editions created the modern world. Why cannot everything be as good as Prof. Eisenstein's writings?

Arnold Hauser


Mannerism: The Crisis of the Renaissance and the origin of modern art

Fascinating study of Renaissance and Mannerist art. I (BMcC[18-11-46-503]) read it to learn about what the architect Robert Venturi used very superficially in his disgusting fashionista book: "Complexity and contradiction in architecture". Hauser explores how mannerism at its best is intellectually serious about the paradoxicality of human existence, not just getting off on kitsch.

Carl Schorske


Thinking with history

Very good book about the philosophy of historiography, and nuances of 19th century culture. I had previously thought that 19th century culture was only bourgeois prudes (e.g.: Paterfamilias Sigmund Freud[3]) repressing sexuality.

[The Bible]



All is vanity saith the Preacher. Reading many books tires the soul. Enjoy the good things in living.

Walter Ong


Fighting for life: Contest, sexuality, and consciousness

As always, Ong is highly insightful. One thing this book says is that medieval education was lively rhetorical disputation. not dolt rote memorization like in the Dark Age of my 1950's "prep school".

Patricia Volk



Story of a complex, lively, become upscale jewish family in New York. Contrast with the cultural wasteland of my (BMcC[18-11-46-503]) childrearing and schooling.

Alexander Braun


George Herriman's "Krazy Kat". The Complete Color Sundays 1935-1944

The gospel according to Ignatz Mouse. Better than The Bible and often even more inscrutable. I (BMcC[18-11-46-503]) find it puzzling that these cartoons apparently won a wide audience in the land of Bing Crosby and Martin Dies Jr. If all of America was like Krazy Kat it would be a very different and IMO much better place.

Adolf Loos


Ornament and crime

Everything that's wrong with Robert Venturi is right with Adolf Loos. Mr. Loos died from syphilis but Mr. Venturi was a degenerate. "Let you light so shine before men tht they may see your good works" (Matt 5:16). Strip away all ornament, including not jut veneer on architecture but also all social ceremonial rites and customs, including such things as birthday parties, women's makeup and lingerie, and, of course, surprise endings in books and in gifting. All of it!

Giorgio Agamben


Means without end

Short reflections of political philosophy. The graphical desigh of the book as a book is interesting. Reminds me of the world of "La dolce vita" and Michelangelo Antonioni's Monica Vitti films, a modern (not post-modern) high culture alienated northern Italian milieu which appeals to me (BMcC[18-11-46-503]), unlike the America I metabolize in.

Giorgio Agamben


The man without content

What is or should be persons' relation to art? The problem of the spectator (The Society of the Spectacle, etc.) from the perspective of the creation versus the consumption of art.

Giorgio Agamben


The Open

Essays concerning human and animal. See WorkBook note for more (BMcC[18-11-46-503]) thinoughts about this author: here

Guy Debord


Comments on The Society of the spectacle

He tells it like it is. The medium is the message. From the early 12-channel television sets with rabbit ears of 1950, past MTV and Social Media, up thru the coming Virtual Reality WEB 3 which will not just enhance or integrate with reality but replace it: Life is spectacular, yawn.

Stephen Toulmin



We need to base modernity on 16th century humanistic contextualized reasonableness (Erasmus, Rabelais) not 17th century denatured ratiocinaton (Descartes, Galileo)Next2a.gif

John Mearsheimer


The Great Delusion: Liberal dreams and international realities

No wonder people don't like Mearsheimer, because he tells how the world of nation states really works, not bleeding hearts' propaganda. I once heard some Finnish politician demonstrate that Mearsheimer was wrong by asserting: every little country has the right to self-determination.[4] (Ed. note: "If wishes were horses then beggars would ride." (Jay Unger))

Noah Charney


The Museum of Lost Art

A history of the art that has been lost to history. Not yet sure what I will find here but the title wa appealing. I do not get excited about learnng about what everybody knows (except to study them in their relation to it). Maybe it will be like the way the Serbs (Bosnians?) shot down a U.S. F-117 Sealth aircraft: by looking for the place where nothing was. Or Marcel Duchamp's "Not seen and less seen". Study the negative: the presence of absence. Insofar as the more ther are the less each is worth, what there are none of should be valuable.

Douglas Murray



I haven't read it yet but who needs to? Many privileged white people here in The West are fawning over religious bigots: they are Islamophiles and whatever elses. So I ma hoping this book exposes them for the shame and treason against civilized humanity they are. I have elsewhere reported in deatil an unpleasant interaction I had with an "ActiFist" who tried to shame me for wanting to breathe, i.e.: to freely use the words, all the words, not just the words this person felt were "sensitive" to his prejudices, in the English language. So, dear reader, I urge everyone (male, female and other) to: Piss on 'em!

Ernst Jünger


Storm of steel
The worker

Why didn't anybody tell me about Ernst Jünger? Why didn't they tell me he was Martin Heidegger's friend? Somebody called "Storm of steel": "A modern Iliad". I never could get into reading The Iliad. As Hermann Honold, ex-combattant, said: "War is bad". Doesn't The Iliad glorify war: A lockerroom romance? Therefore The Iliad is bad, but Jünger's book is good because: War is bad. They wanted us boys to glorify warriors as heroes to lust to become more of get mowed down by machine guns (Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori)! And the girls egg the boys on! To get mowed down by machine guns. Damn the middle aging males who send young men to suffer and die in their wars! They are the ones who should go.
And  wage labor in indusrial society is depersonalizing and alienating, except maybe for medics and booksellers. Let's not get into that, either. Know your enemy: Read Ernst Jünger. FTA.

I hypothesize some books are not worth reading

There are some books that have always been obvious to me: Anglo-American acaademic "philosophy" seemed to me less appealing than eating cardboard. An analogy here might be that a great writer might not be much interested in the chemical composition of writing ink but British philosophers seemed to not be interested in what a pen could be used for.

Recently (+2023.10.29) I have recalled a must more existentially consequential case (Britih philosophers were not interested in human existence, were they?): The Iliad. I have not read it, but I think I've smelled it: A locker room romance, celebrating jocks and their jock straps. So now I think The Iliad is one book preeminently not worth reading, especially dangerous for young persons: It might give young hormonal males bad ideas about becoming warrior heroes and young hormonal female bad ideas about goading them on to do it. Contrast: Richard A. Gabriel: "No more heroes: Madness and psychiatry in war" is well worth reading.

I do have a question about The Iliad: Why did Odysseus get himself mixed up in this puerile mess about a "cunt"? Boys will be boys but Odysseus had a mind. He had a nice little kingdom, a loving and presumably attractive enough wife and one apparently intelligent child (stop at one!). Why wasn't he smart enough to tell the guys: "No, thank you, you do your thing if that's what you rally want to do, but please leave me out?"[5]

I like The Odyssey. It's about a male who THINKs, not just has muscle mass above and below a thick neck. But Odysseus is not all good, especially if I remember rightly, how he treats Nausicaa. He's not my ideal, but after all The Odyssey was written by and for locker roomers, so it gets a pass. True story: I had a 2nd line manager in my first computer programming job who was not bad (I got my Despair comic book cover from the stack of R. Crumb comix he had in his desk for when he had to work 2nd shift). But one nite he got drunk with his work buddies and came home very late. His wife hit him over the head with a frying pan and made him sleep it off on the front lawn. Such should Penelope have done with Odysseus on his return home, and, of course, made him go to a doctor to be tested for venereal diseases efore letting him have sex with her.

+2024.02.16 v107
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  1. Where I studied psychoanalysis there were no wild asses but there was an ass: Martin Kossover, LCSW.
  2. All trash to recycling!"The power of reproduction is for the good of the species, and the human legislator acts on behalf of the species in establishing monogamous unions of one man with one woman. Individual genital organs are to be used only for a power of the species. The organs are, as it were, on loan from the species and – more important – subject to an exercise of eminent domain by the city." (Mark D. Jordan, "The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology", University of Chicago Press, 1997, p. 126)
  3. Not only was Siggy a busybody nosy intrusive parent psychoanayzing his own daughter – soul incest? –, but he also discouraged her from masturbating because the clitoris was in his unanalyzed cunt-envy opinion a vestigal male organ and women should not be masculine. Apparently he thought the girl should be a good woman and have penis envy, i.e.: she should be envious of the creep he and his acolytes were. ~ Bumper sticker: "A Woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."
  4. Here's something similar to this "argument": An advertisement for a psoriatic arthritis madicine[Typo: "medicine"]: "Don't use if you ure allergic to Taltz." How can you know if you are allergic to the medicine if you don't use it? Of course, where there's a will ther is likely a way, and for that sanctamonious Finnish dude, the way is obviously a massive land war in Ukraine, where might may make him right or destroy the world in thermonuclear holocaust but better dead than red, right, Sir?
  5. What should have happened with Helen of Troy, the world's first trophy wife? The men should all have agreed to ignore her, and let her enjoy herself all alone by herself or whattver might have happened to her. So what, bitch?
No more propaganda! Not from parents! Not from school teachers! Not from churches! Not from governments! Not from partisans for any "cause"! No propaganda from anybody!
I (BMcC) cast my fishing line, hoping to catch a fish. Wise men (and wise cats) fish here. Meow!
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