Hyperobjects May Be Nearer Than They Appear

Dick Fassino, an excellent and perceptive patron of the Community Library, offered this interesting commentary on a recent addition to our stacks, Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology After the End of the World by Timothy Morton. The review is cautionary and thoughtful, and an interesting counterpoint to the publisher’s description.

“Not often I get flummoxed by a book, but this one “did me in”! Timothy Morton’s “Hyperobjects: philosophy and ecology after the end of the world”. Even my three years in a Benedictine Monastery did not equip me to handle this.

If that is what the end of the world is going to be like, I shall concentrate even more on living every second to the hilt!

Recommend you sample it – worth just seeing what it is. Here is just one paragraph as an example – p22:

“Humans have entered an age of hypocrisy, weakness, and lameness, terms that have a specific valence and definition that I elucidate in part 2. The overall aesthetic “feel” of the time of hyperobjects is a sense of asymmetry between the infinite poser of cognition and the infinite being of things. There occurs a crazy arms race between what we know and what is, in which the technology of what we know is turned against itself. The arms race sets new parameters for aesthetic experience and action, which I take in the widest possible sense to mean the ways in which relations between beings play out. Very significant consequences for art emerge, and the book ends by outlining some of them. “

It gets even better. Perhaps you know someone who cannot sleep – perhaps this would help!
Would be interested to know why this one got picked for the Library.”

In all transparency, I picked the book on the strength of an indie review and the publisher’s description–it still sounds fascinating, but I have not yet read it. Also, I like to sneak some modern philosophy books into the stacks every few months when no one is looking. It adds fiber. When I communicated this to our guest reviewer, he responded, just as thoughtfully:

hyper objects“I felt the same way just by looking at the cover and reviews. The reality upon reading it (or trying to), was a bit different. Will be interesting to see if other readers find it very interesting. Keep up the great work. This one definitely “stretched my mind” in some ways it hadn’t done before. Perhaps I’ll try it in the future and see if it grows on me!”

If you are interested in reading further observations about Hyperobjects, the LA Times put forth a review that was almost as flummoxy. Or take the measure of your philosophical fiber and check out the book @The Community Library.

The Knowledge by Lewis Dartnell–a guest book review by Richard Fassino

Thank you very much to one of our most widely read and erudite patrons, Richard Fassino, for this timely review of a newly released book on our shelves, The Knowledge: How to Rebuild our World from Scratch by Lewis Darnell.  The Denizens blog at The Community Library welcomes a wide range of contributions from our patrons, board and staff that relate to our multifarious library collections.

the knowledge

With all the stories around about the destruction of the world as we know it – pick your poison – atomic war, terrorism, virulent flu gone wild, climate change cooking us, God’s revenge, etc, etc, etc – what happens after that? What happens if some of our human race survives? Are the folks with the guns and tons of food stored in their cellars going to rule? Will they wander around as in Cormac McCarthy’s book - The Road?  Really, what happens then?

Lewis Dartnell has taken a shot at it in his new book – The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch. This goes way beyond the basic survival books that have become popular over the last few Xmases. When the electricity goes off, when the food stores are depleted – how might the survivors be able to make it? Our human brains, our accumulated knowledge, our documented technological advances – how can we identify what will be useful? How can we preserve that knowledge in a way to retrieve it so it can be used in that kind of future?

It is an amazing book in many ways – one of the best ways is that it gives the reader a look into the basics of life – much of which is so far removed from our daily, technologically advanced life that we don’t even know about many of those basics anymore. The food part is great – perhaps there are some good, old-fashioned farmers that still know about some of those basics, but I’ll bet even some of them will get a few surprises.

It reads easily. It’s informative.
Try it.
Dick

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notes from the internet

Other related reads at The Community Library on post-apocalyptic scenarios: Wayne Gladstone’s fiction satire Notes from the Internet Apocalypse the FoxFire series on folklore, country living and survival, and The Complete Survival Manual by Michael S. Sweeney.

An open question: What books would you squirrel away against technofailure? What would you keep around to read and consult by candlelight if an EMP hit and the power grid and internet went down?

This Week — Poetry, The Idaho Public TV Premiere of The Address, Online Safety and the Guitar Circle, all @The Community Library

Poetry of Witness cover art

Tonight, Tuesday April 16th, Idaho poet Jeanne Rodgers will help us celebrate National Poetry Month with readings from her work, including the recently released book Through the Cattails. A search for poetry in our catalog turns up over a thousand hits, including audio CDs, DVDs and poetry for kids! Whatever your poetic tastes, from Auden to Rumi or Robert Service to Ogden Nash, there is a poem, haiku, verse, epic or sonnet in the Library for you.

Making of the Gettysburg Address cover art

Later Tuesday night, in the comfort of your own home, consider the Ken Burns movie The Address, which will premiere on Idaho Public Television at 9:00 pm Mountain time. The film follows a group of classmates from the Greenwood School in Putney, Vermont, as they are challenged to memorize and recite the Gettysburg Address. Are you interested in participating in the Address project? Email us if you would like assistance recording your own personal video! Just email our new events programmer Scott Burton at sburton@thecommunitylibrary.org with “Address” in the subject header.

Looking for more information on the crafting of the Gettysburg Address and it’s lasting influence? Check out our history collection at the Library, including the West Point Atlas of the Civil War in our oversized bookshelves, numerous personal papers and memoirs from Lincoln, Lee, Sherman, Stonewall Jackson and many others from both sides of the conflict. Just ask a librarian!

ONLINE SAFETY! That is the theme of Paul Zimmerman’s tech class this coming Wednesday night, 6:00 pm. Paul will address the implications of the recently revealed Heartbleed bug, and what you can do to make your passwords and online activities safer.

On Thursday, the Guitar Circle meets again! We will start just a little bit earlier–the door to the Lecture Room will open by 5:30 pm to set up, tune up, and share music. The meeting is open to all, learners as well as experienced players. Past meetings have featured violin, harp and box percussion. Listeners can drop in as well.

Share in the making of living poetry, oration and music @Your Community Library, where library cards are free!

Weeding the Stacks

book cover for the Singular Mark Twain

One of the most (intellectually) difficult jobs for many collection development, acquisitions and circulation librarians can be culling books from the shelves. Many books need to be weeded, some because they are unloved and no one checks them out anymore, and some ahead of their time because of damage, obsolescence, or outright dirt poor information. Fiction writers lie for a living, and do it with style and panache (they get a bye on fibbing, the Mark Twain Free Pass.) Some nonfiction writers prevaricate as well. Some quite gleefully. When detected, those books are far easier to boot off of the catalog and out the door (or in library parlance, “deaccess.”)

Fiction is relatively straightforward to deaccess–check the circulation, and if the book has gone unloved and unchecked out for a few years, pull it and make room for a newer, shinier, and presumably more lovable tome. Some classics get a pass (Mark Twain is possibly slightly overrepresented in the collection, but hey, Mark Twain.) Regional authors get a little extra attention. Still, taking out some books can be a hard call. Librarian favorites can mysteriously find new life and more prominent locations (when will they reprint that Edward Abbey classic? Has it become too subversive for modern publication? Better keep it…) Weeding is as much an arcane art as book ordering.

book cover for Trust and Honesty

Right this very minute, I am scanning some nonfiction candidates for deaccession from our society and law section (Dewey 346-347.) Some books are fairly easy culls, such as O.J., The Last Word, c1997–regional author, but last century subject, and no recent circs. But what about Trust and Honesty: America’s Business Culture at a Crossroad/ Tamar Frankel–isn’t the subject more relevant than ever? Or perhaps the scholarly approach is too dense for a general collection. And what about Roe v. Wade: The Abortion Rights Controversy in American History–c2001, and still being argued. Moreover, Library Journal still recommends the book for public libraries ten years after publication. Then there’s How to be Rich, by J. Paul Getty, published by Playboy Press in the sixties, a first edition. It’s a fascinating book. Not my normal fare, but now that I’ve paged through it, I might read it to study the snapshot of the time and mindset. Serendipity in the stacks works like that.

On to the next book. The Constitution of the United States, Its Sources, and Its Applications by Thomas James Norton, c1940. “…this explanation of the Constitution has been prepared under the conviction that the American never has had within reach the means of acquiring that knowledge which, as a citizen, he should first of all possess.” The quote is from the preface, written just after the 19th Amendment passed allowing women the right to vote. Inclusive language was still a work in progress, and one of our more deeply passionate readers has underlined a key phrase or two (thankfully only in pencil) but the bones of the history in the book are good.

What would you do? Keep or cull?

Voices of Ireland

Voices of Ireland book cover by Malachy McCourt

Spring is approaching, and St. Patrick summons the young shoots of summer with feasting and observances (at least, his pagan forebears did, during the equinoxial feast of Ostara, with which the saint’s day closely coincides.) If you are planning a party, or enjoy the sound of roots Irish ballads, we have a number of Irish music CDs and Irish-themed DVDs, and many, many books, celebrating Irish history and culture from the sea-roving Celts to the Irish Brigade. If you’d like to go further back into the mists of the lore of Ireland, we have a number of druidic tomes in our Lister Collection of arcane books.

The chieftains music CD Voice of Ages

Celtic themes abound in our music CDs, from Van Morrison to the Chieftains, and Michael Flatley to Hayley Westenra. The DVD The Secret of Kells was shown at the Sun Valley Spiritual Festival. Or you can tap your inner Bard by delving into 1,000 years of Irish Poetry.

The real Saint Patrick was an active cleric, but didn’t really drive the snakes from Ireland–there hadn’t been snakes in Ireland since before the last ice age, according to National Geographic on the subject.) Some say the claim is a metaphor for Catholic evangelism, though there is strong evidence that polytheism survived in Ireland long after Patrick’s time. We have resources exploring many sides of Irish culture, from A Brief History of the Druids to On the Irish Waterfront, and with Irish oratory ranging from James Joyce to Edmund Burke.

Threads of green run through the Wood River Valley, the green of the forests, the green of Wood River school colors, and the American version of the holiday has brought out many a screaming green costume over the years on March 17th. Celebrate the coming of spring and the wearing ‘o the green your way, @The Community Library.

Living in the Mountains–Avalanches

The Sawtooth Avalanche Center (twitter feed @sawtoothavy) has raised the local avalanche warning to “HIGH” today (up from “considerable.”) They warn backcountry skiers, snowmobilers and hikers to stay away from both slopes and outruns below avalanche paths. Slides are going to occur on all aspects of central Idaho mountains, north, south, east and west, due to wind loading, unstable slab built over old “ball-bearing” layers of snow, and recent new snowfall. (Avalanche controlled slopes within ski area boundaries are not included in the warning, but off-piste skiing is a Very Bad Idea right now.) The short term warning continues through Monday, but all backcountry explorers should exercise caution in the mountains throughout the winter.

Sawtooth Avalanche Center photo of recent slide in Boulders.

Sawtooth Avalanche Center photo of recent slide in Boulders.

Tragically, recent and historic slides have caused damage, injury and claimed lives, on seemingly safe slopes, flats below avalanche chutes, and even roadways and houses below slide zones. Local high avalanche zones include Warm Springs Road and Galena Summit, but may also include side roads near recent burned areas and access roads in side canyons. The Community Library has considerable resources related to avalanche dangers and maintaining safety in mountainous terrain. Check out the books Backcountry Skiing, Avalanche Essentials, and the DVD A Life Ascending. Our Regional History Library has numerous photos of historic slides, including the North Star Mine disaster in 1917.

North Star Mine bunkhouse near Triumph was destroyed 3:30 am, February 25th, 1917.  Seventeen miners were killed in the slide.

North Star Mine bunkhouse near Triumph was destroyed 3:30 am, February 25th, 1917. Seventeen miners were killed in the slide.

How do you minimize your risks and maximize your fun in avalanche country? Be aware of conditions, and make mountain and snow conditions a lifelong learning project. Also–as with scuba diving, seek professional and local guide advice, and never ski/snowboard/snowmobile/snowshoe the backcountry risk areas alone. The Sawtooth Avalanche Center has an interactive tutorial on avalanche basics, and links to safety courses with Sawtooth Mountain Guides and Sun Valley Trekking.

Book cover Avalanche Essentials

Book cover Avalanche Essentials

Know your snow, look it up @The Community Library.

The Winter Olympic Tradition Runs Deep in Sun Valley

Gretchen Fraser at the Finish Line

Gretchen Fraser at the Finish Line

Congratulations to Idaho snowboarder Sage Kotsenberg for winning the slopestyle, opening the Winter Olympics with risk, flair and a 1620 Japan (4.5 rotations and a grab.) Hockey player Hilary Knight from Sun Valley scored a goal and an assist as the women’s team stopped Finland 3-1 in their opener. Hailey skier Jasmine Campbell carried the flag for her native-born U.S. Virgin Islands team during the opening ceremonies.

In The Valley, the politics of the Olympics have always taken a deep back seat to the celebration of sport and athlete. Dozens of Olympic competitors make the Wood River Valley their home, both home-grown and adopted, and the Valley unites in cheering on the newest competitors. We all wish great good luck to all our athletes and coaches at the Games this year.

christin cooper ski racing

Our Regional History Library and main stacks have many stories of the Winter Olympics and Olympians–Gretchen Fraser and Dick Durrance, Betty (Bell) Weir and Chuck Ferries, the Patterson clan, the Crist clan, the Corrock clan, Christin Cooper, and multiple medal winner Picabo Street. Search our Photo archives for many iconic images of Olympians past and present (or contribute some photos of your own!)

Picabo Street in the Olympic downhill

Picabo Street

One of our most popular and enduring books this last year is The Boys in the Boat: nine Americans and their epic quest for gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics / Daniel James Brown. Holds are still accumulating on this title. Politics and issues wax and change, but stories that celebrate the innate spirit of teamwork in sport, the quest of the athlete and the powerful draw of the Games do stand the test of time.

Boys in the Boat

Join the Guitar Circle with Taul Paul–Followup Meeting February 20th–three new guitars are now circulating in our stacks!

Edit February 7th: Due to the enthusiasm of our first meeting on January 23rd, we are holding another Guitar Circle event Thursday, February 20th, at 6:00 pm. Bring your stringed instrument, (or just yourself, and listen in!) The lecture room door will open early for those who want to tune up or compare notes. If you’d like a copy of Taul Paul’s music sheets before the event, email me here at the Community Library– cbutterfield thecommunitylibrary.org.

P1020280

Two new Fender FA100 six-string guitars have arrived for our patrons, generously donated by Tana Stahn at Chesbro Music in Idaho Falls. The guitars join our Little Martin guitar in a budding music station offering–the guitars may be checked out just like a book, for 2 weeks. Patrons can place a hold on the guitars if they are already circulating (our Martin has proved very popular since it’s introduction in November, and now has two holds from interested players.) The new Fenders are geared to patrons who want to learn the guitar, as well as skilled players who may need an instrument for a short time to practice skills or entertain friends.

fender pic.php

Interested in learning more? This Thursday, Taul Paul, local musician, poet and riverman, will conduct an event at 6:00 pm January 23rdat The Community Library covering the history of guitars and the use of stringed instruments–please join us, whether you are interested in guitars, learning to play, or musical Americana. Following the talk, interested patrons and musicians can join Taul Paul in an informal Guitar Circle discussion with instruments (we will have at least one Fender on hand for patrons to borrow and play.) Let me know by commenting below if you might be interested in a regular meeting of a freeform and free Guitar Circle at the Library! Or give us a call and ask for Cathy in Collection Development–I will add you to the list. taulpaul w guitar

Also, we have a number of new books in our music section for new learners and experienced players alike on chords, techniques, and styles. Also, we’ve added some guitar and keyboard songbooks as well, including a compendium of the music and lyrics of Johnny Cash. Explore the art of songwriting, playing or just indulge your curiosity–visit the library!