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Jim Brown

Joined 2 years, 7 months ago English professor Teaches and studies rhetoric and digital studies Director of the Rutgers-Camden Digital Studies Center (DiSC):

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Jim Brown's books

Currently Reading

2023 Reading Goal

72% complete! Jim Brown has read 58 of 80 books.

Upstream (2016) 4 stars

"'In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly …

the world's otherness

No rating

My favorite part of this book is the section on Emerson, Poe, Whitman, and Wordsworth. The nature writing was less of a draw for me, but even when I wasn't that engaged Oliver would come out what a pear like this:

"I stood willingly and gladly in the characters of everything - other people, trees, clouds. And this is what I learned: that the world's otherness is antidote to confusion, that standing within this otherness - the beauty and the mystery of the world, out. in the fields or deep inside books - can re-dignify the worst-stung heart." (15)

Crook Manifesto (Paperback, 2023, Random House Large Print) 5 stars

Colson Whitehead continues his Harlem saga in a novel that summons 1970s New York in …

Biography of New York in the 70s

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This installment focuses on the 70s (Harlem Shuffle focused on the 60s), and the writing is great. There's a lot of New York specific detail about neighborhoods and streets that is lost on me, but it's necessary for a series that is so intent on using NYC much the way The Wire used Baltimore. My favorite moment is probably when the Magnavox Odyssey (the "brown box") makes a cameo. The research behind this book is pretty awesome.

The Modem World (Hardcover, 2022, Yale University Press) No rating

Fifteen years before the commercialization of the internet, millions of amateurs across North America created …

Federated Social Media's Lineage

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If you're interested in federated social media (and I know that you are), you should check out this book. What's happening here on Bookwyrm shares a lot with the BBSs that Driscoll talks about in this book.

I was especially into the chapter on FidoNet given that I have been thinking for a couple of years about how much ActivityPub/Mastodon/Bookwyrm/etc. owe to FidoNet's attempts to "federate" (not the term they would have used) Bulletin Board Systems.

John Cage : a Mycological Foray (2020, Atelier Editions) No rating

"A meal without mushrooms is like a day without rain"

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A beautiful book, both in terms of writing and as an art object. It includes a volume that reproduces Cage's 1972 portfolio, Mushroom Book, authored in collaboration with illustrator Lois Long and botanist Alexander H. Smith.

Cage on his composition course:

"I wasn't concerned with a teaching situation that involved a body of material to be transmitted by me to them. I would, when it was necessary, give them a survey of earlier works, by me and by others, in terms of composition, but mostly I emphasized what I was doing at that time and would show them what I was doing and why I was interested in it. Then I warned them that if they didn't want to change their ways of doing things, they ought to leave the class, that it would be my function, if I had any, to stimulate them to change."

Regarding his poems on …

MANIAC (Paperback, Italiano language, Adelphi) No rating

L’odissea nera di John von Neumann, l’uomo che disegnò la mappa infernale del mondo che …

Von Neumann was a tech bro

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While the rest of the Manhattan Project folks were wringing their hands, Von Neumann was buying fancy clothes and drinking scotch. This book plays with rationality/irrationality and madness in interesting ways. The closing section on Go and AI is also really engrossing.

The Question of Palestine (1992) 5 stars

depressingly relevant

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It's fairly depressing to read a book as old as me (published in 1978) that offers an analysis that is still pretty much dead on.

One thing that jumped out at me was Said's argument that the Zionist project is rooted in detailed plans and institutions, something that is not met with symmetry by Palestian political institutions. He doesn't necessarily lay blame on anyone (well, maybe he does), but he does offer much evidence in this area:

"The Palestinians have not understood that Zionism has been much more than an unfair colonialist master against whom one could appeal to all sorts of higher courts, without any avail. They have not understood the Zionist challenge as a policy of detail, of institutions, of organization, by which people (to this day) enter territory illegally, build houses on it, settle there, and call the land their own-with the whole world condemning them." (95)