« on: October 22, 2016, 03:52:18 pm »
Finished Echopraxia last night -- it's a bit denser than Blindsight or any of the Rifters books, and I think I'll probably need to re-read it in order to really understand all of what went on.
Last night I also read A Brief History of Vice, Robert Evans' summary of the ways that vice (mostly drugs, but also gossip, trolling, and prostitution) affected the course of history. As a history, it's not great -- it's short & written like a Cracked article without the links, and contains a lot of typos; it breezes over ideas that could profitably be covered in more depth and spends a lot of time on ideas that are familiar to people who read a lot about these subjects, along with repeating a lot of material from Evans' Cracked articles. In the end, with the exception of a section on Stonehenge, I had either already read his sources, read a slightly modified version of the chapter on Cracked, or had read most of the details he covers elsewhere. I still recommend grabbing the book because of its recipes: it serves as a sort of cook-book for legal (in the United States) drugs, and contains information about preparation that I haven't seen elsewhere. Recipes I intend to try include: bappir (a kind of cookie made as the basis for mash in Sumerian beer, as described in The Hymn to Ninkashi), bhang (an indian pot milkshake), soma (specifically: Evans read the part of the Hindu scriptures describing the way that Shiva liked to prepare soma, operated on the assumption that the drug in question was Fly Agaric, and followed the directions), and power balls (a kind of calorie-rich trail mix made by mixing roasted coffee cherries with ghee and wearing it in a leather sack around your neck while exercising).
I'm currently reading Hard-Boiled Anxiety, which is basically somebody doing Freudian psychoanalysis of three early authors of pulp detective fiction. It would have been better had it been written by Zizek -- it's pretty dry, all things considered -- but it's sort so I'll probably finish it.