W.E.B. Du Bois and his Genius, “The Souls of Black Folk” 1903 by csaad1982
March 10, 2010, 9:56 am
Filed under: non-fiction | Tags:

“After the Egyptian and Indian, the Greek and Roman, the Teuton and Mongolian, the Negro is a sort of seventh son, born with a veil, and gifted with second-sight in this American world, — a world which yields him no true self-consciousness, but only lets him see himself through the revelation of the other world. It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his twoness, — an American, a Negro; two warring souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.”


“No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam” Reza Aslan by boo
March 6, 2010, 3:57 pm
Filed under: non-fiction, religion | Tags:

Religion, it must be understood, is not faith. Religion is the story of faith. It is an institutionalized system of symbols and metaphors (read rituals and myths) that provides a common language with which a community of faith can share with each other their numinous encounter with the Divine Presence. Religion is not concerned with genuine history, but with sacred history, which does not course through time like a river. (xxv-xxvi)

“What is your point of origin?” the agent asks wearily.
“The United States,” I reply.
He stiffens and looks up at my face. I can tell we are the same age, though his tired eyes and his unshaven jowl make him appear much older. He is a child of the revolution; I am a fugitive – an apostate. He has spent his life surviving a history that I have spent my life studying from afar. All at once I feel overwhelmed. I can barely look at him when he asks,” “Where have you been?” as all passport agents are required to do. I cannot help but sense the accusation in his question. (250-251)

The principal lesson to be learned from the failure of Europe’s “civilizing mission” is that democracy, if it is to be viable and enduring, can never be imported. It must be nurtured from within, founded upon familiar ideologies, and presented in a language that is both comprehensible and appealing to the indigenous population. (254)

…there can be no a priori moral framework in a modern democracy; that the foundation of a genuinely democractic society must be secularism. The problem with this argument, however, is that it not only fails to recognize the inherently moral foundation upon which large numbers of modern democracies are built, it more importantly fails to appreciate the difference between secularism and secularization. (261)

“The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art” Don Thompson by boo
March 1, 2010, 12:49 am
Filed under: art, non-fiction | Tags:

The most incredible Hirst-branding story involved A. A. Gill, feature writer and restaurant critic for the London Sunday Times. Gill owned an old painting of Joseph Stalin by an unknown hand, which he said “used to hang over my desk as an aid to hard work” and for which he had paid £200. In February 2007, Gill offered it to Christie’s for sale in a midweek auction. The auction house rejected it, saying it did not deal in Hitler or Stalin.

“How about if it were Stalin by Hirst or Warhol?”
“Well then, of course we would love to have it.”

Gill called Damien Hirst and asked if he would paint a red nose on Stalin. Hirst did so, adding his signature below the nose. With the signature, Christie’s accepted it and offered an estimate of £8,000-12,000. Seventeen bidders later, the hammer fell at £140,000. It was, after all, a signed Hirst. (68-69)

The most shameless artist of all when it came to self-promotion was probably Pablo Picasso. His first show at Ambroise Vollard’s gallery in Paris featured portraits of the exhibition’s three financial backers, while he gave paintings to the two critics who attended the show and wrote laudatory reviews. After he achieved fame, Picasso wrote checks to art editors and critics for even the smallest amount, knowing that they would never be cashed, that the recipient would keep the check for its signature. (213)