Angel Rama: The Lettered City (1984–) [Spanish, English]

16 September 2014, dusan

“Angel Rama’s La ciudad letrada was published in 1984, shortly after he had died in a plane accident in Spain. Since then, it has quickly established itself as one of the most daring, perspicacious and innovative analyses of Latin American history, literature and political culture. However, because it was not completed due to his untimely death, the book was an incomplete synthesis of several decades of literary criticism and history. Even if Rama had not written La ciudad letrada, his place on the canon of Latin American letters would have been secured by his pioneering work on intra-American comparative literary studies. Rama, appropriating a term from Cuban anthropologist Fernando Ortiz, introduced into Latin American literary studies the term ‘transculturation’, which sought to conceptualize the interaction between indigenous, criollo and mestizo cultures in Latin America, and in this way he gave a hermeneutic key for unlocking many key texts of Latin American letters.

Rama’s book is surely about letters, literature and writing, but it is also about cities, space, spatialization and the relationship between the syntax of languages and the order of space. The book is, in fact, what one may call a philosophical-historical-cultural essay that uses literature and the ‘writer’–el letrado–to elaborate a wide-ranging interpretative thesis about Latin America as a cultural unit. Its genre is thus not a literary theory, comparative literature, or even cultural studies, even if it contributes to these. In German one calls this genre Geistesgeschichte, which is neither a spiritual nor an intellectual history, but rather a history of the animating logic of a culture.” (from a review by Eduardo Mendieta, City, 2006)

First published by Ediciones del Norte, Hanover/NH, 1984
With an Introduction by Hugo Achugar
Publisher Arca, Montevideo, 1998
ISBN 9974400244
126 pages

English edition
Translated and with an Introduction by John Charles Chasteen
Publisher Duke University Press, 1996
ISBN 0822317575, 9780822317579
141 pages
via Oral Majority

Commentary (Cora Gorman Malone, 2010, in EN)
Commentary (Brantley Nicholson, 2011, in EN)

Publisher (EN)

La ciudad letrada (Spanish, 1984/1998, 6 MB, no OCR)
The Lettered City (English, pages 40 and 56 missing, 1996, 9 MB, no OCR)

Naomi Klein: This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate (2014)

16 September 2014, dusan

In This Changes Everything Naomi Klein argues that climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and health care. It’s an alarm that calls us to fix an economic system that is already failing us in many ways. Klein meticulously builds the case for how massively reducing our greenhouse emissions is our best chance to simultaneously reduce gaping inequalities, re-imagine our broken democracies, and rebuild our gutted local economies. She exposes the ideological desperation of the climate-change deniers, the messianic delusions of the would-be geoengineers, and the tragic defeatism of too many mainstream green initiatives. And she demonstrates precisely why the market has not—and cannot—fix the climate crisis but will instead make things worse, with ever more extreme and ecologically damaging extraction methods, accompanied by rampant disaster capitalism.

Klein argues that the changes to our relationship with nature and one another that are required to respond to the climate crisis humanely should not be viewed as grim penance, but rather as a kind of gift—a catalyst to transform broken economic and cultural priorities and to heal long-festering historical wounds. And she documents the inspiring movements that have already begun this process: communities that are not just refusing to be sites of further fossil fuel extraction but are building the next, regeneration-based economies right now.

Publisher Simon & Schuster, 2014
ISBN 1451697384, 9781451697384
576 pages

Review (David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times)
Review (Sandra Steingraber, EcoWatch)

Book website, Twitter, Facebook


César Vallejo: Trilce (1922–) [Spanish, English]

15 September 2014, dusan

Trilce is the second and the most well-known book of poetry by the Peruvian author César Vallejo.

Pared of all ornamental language, Trilce introduces the wrenched syntax that allows Vallejo to get beyond the constraints of received linguistic conventions. Writing in A History of Peruvian Literature, James Higgins catalogues the elements of Vallejo’s diction: “Vallejo confounds the reader’s expectations by his daring exploitation of the line pause, which often leaves articles, conjunctions and even particles of words dangling at the end of a line, by his frequent resort to harsh sounds to break the rhythm, by employing alliterations so awkward as to be tongue-twisters. He distorts syntactic structures, changes the grammatical function of words, plays with spelling. His poetic vocabulary is frequently unfamiliar and ‘unliterary,’ he creates new words of his own, he often conflates two words into one, he tampers with cliches to give them new meaning, he plays on the multiple meaning of words and on the similarity of sound between words. He repeatedly makes use of oxymoron and paradox and, above all, catachresis, defamiliarising objects by attributing to them qualities not normally associated with them.”

D. P. Gallagher suggests in Modern Latin American Literature that Vallejo was “perhaps the first Latin American writer to have realized that it is precisely in the discovery of a language where literature must find itself in a continent where for centuries the written word was notorious more for what it concealed than for what it revealed, where ‘beautiful’ writing, sheer sonorous wordiness was a mere holding operation against the fact that you did not dare really say anything at all.” (from Vallejo’s biography by Poetry Foundation)

With a Foreword by Antenor Orrego
Publisher Talleres tipográficos de la Penitenciaría, Lima, 1922
136 pages
via Biblioteca BBVA

Commentary (Michelle Clayton, Poetry in Pieces: César Vallejo and Lyric Modernity, 2011, 329 pp)
Wikipedia (ES)
Wikipedia (EN)

PDF (Spanish), other editions: 1961, 1982, 1986, 1987
HTML (Spanish/English, trans. Clayton Eshleman, 2007)

Pierre Schaeffer: In Search of a Concrete Music (1952/2012)

14 September 2014, dusan

Pierre Schaeffer’s In Search of a Concrete Music has long been considered a classic text in electroacoustic music and sound recording. Now Schaeffer’s pioneering work—at once a journal of his experiments in sound composition and a treatise on the raison d’être of “concrete music”—is available for the first time in English translation. Schaeffer’s theories have had a profound influence on composers working with technology. However, they extend beyond the confines of the studio and are applicable to many areas of contemporary musical thought, such as defining an ‘instrument’ and classifying sounds. Schaeffer has also become increasingly relevant to DJs and hip-hop producers as well as sound-based media artists. This unique book is essential for anyone interested in contemporary musicology or media history.

First published as À la recherche d’une musique concrète, Seuil, Paris, 1952.

Translated by Christine North and John Dack
Publisher University of California Press, 2012
ISBN 0520265742, 9780520265745
225 pages

Review (Daniela Cascella, Los Angeles Review of Books, 2013)
Review (Brian Kane, Organised Sound, 2013)
Review (Warren Burt, SoundBytes, 2014)


PDF, PDF (7 MB, updated to an OCR’d version via Marcell Mars)

More from Schaeffer on Monoskop wiki (writings), UbuWeb (recordings), and Artsonores (films).

Alfred Gell: Art and Agency: An Anthropological Theory (1998)

14 September 2014, dusan

Alfred Gell puts forward an anthropological theory of visual art seen as a form of instrumental action: the making of things as a means of influencing the thoughts and actions of others. He argues that existing anthropological and aesthetic theories take an overwhelmingly passive point of view, and questions the criteria that accord art status only to a certain class of objects and not to others. The anthropology of art is here reformulated as the anthropology of a category of action: Gell shows how art objects embody complex intentionalities and mediate social agency. He explores the psychology of patterns and perceptions, art and personhood, the control of knowledge, and the interpretation of meaning, drawing upon a diversity of artistic traditions-European, Indian, Polynesian, Melanesian, and Australian.

With a Foreword by Nicholas Thomas
Publisher Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1998
ISBN 0198280149, 9780198280149
272 pages
via mrcds

Commentary (Robert Layton, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 2003)
Review (Michèle Coquet, L’Homme, 2001, in French)
Review (Ross Bowden, Oceania, 2004)


PDF (64 MB, no OCR)
EPUB (4 MB, added on 2014-9-14 via Marcell)

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