Rey Chow, The Protestant Ethnic and the Spirit of Capitalism
For me, Rey Chow is the most important intellectual now working. And she answers mail from strangers. Or at least she answers mine.
Etienne Balibar & Immanuel Wallerstein, Race, Nation, Class: Ambiguous Identities
Very helpful for articulating racism as a phenomenon that is in no way isolated in time, place, or in relation to other social phenomena.
Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in America: The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist 1968-1976
Amazing collection of letters documenting the struggles of a working freelance journalist–to score gigs, collect payments owed, keep the publishers interested–who then suddenly gets famous, and then has to deal with that. All the while Thompson through scathing commentary and description paints a picture of the era not in day-glo colors, but rather in blood, shit, and urine. But he’s not cynical; he’s just pissed. It’s awesome.
E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class
I’m not quite done with this book’s 800+ pages, but after only twenty you know it’s a classic. Highlights include a great account of the early nineteenth-century stockingers’ resistance to industrialization, better known as Luddism. Thompson’s research leads him to argue that one of the major reasons for the popularity of the resistance was the outrage and offense taken by the hand stockingers when confronted with the poor-wearing machine-made stockings.
Ellen Lupton & Elaine Lustig Cohen, Letters from the Avant Garde
A look at modern graphic design through the medium of letterhead. Stationary designed and used by Marinetti, El Lizzitsky, Schwitters, Zwart, Sonia Delaunay, and many others. The designs along with the hand writing and ribbon type kind of make the point that something like “mail art” was happening decades before that term emerged, but in the form of conventional communication by post.
Stephen Young, Maximizing Harm: Losers and Winners in the Drug War
Steve Young is a local freelance journalist and fellow pot activist. He is the same guy who interviewed artists for the Iz It Art? show that used to (and occasionally still does) air on Chicago’s CAN TV.
Mac McGrew, American Metal Typefaces of the Twentieth Century
This is the book of reference I use most in my print shop and work space. Not only for when I’m printing stuff, but for when I’m drawing, too. It’s pretty interesting to learn about what face was designed when, and in response or relation to what other face…that kind of information is included in the short descriptive texts accompanying many of the hundreds of type specimens.
Adrian Piper, Out of Order, Out of Sight Volume II: Selected Writings in Art Criticism 1967-1992
Who else besides Danto is an accomplished philosopher who writes art criticism and theory? Probably a few people. Who else besides Madeline Gins is an accomplished philosopher who makes art? There are a few, I’m sure. Who else besides Adrian Piper is an accomplished philosopher who writes art criticism and theory, and makes art? And deals with issues of race, class, and gender, besides? Nobody I can think of. The texts in this book are highly variable in form and voice. Some are analytical pieces and some are personal narratives. Some are organized as aphorisms and some are linear arguments. All are super clear and jargon free.