Reading project, week ending 11 Apr 2021

What have I read this week? Just one.

Loki by Mackenzi Lee

This is a fantasy novel about the Asgardian god Loki. I enjoyed this; it’s an interesting take on Loki’s story, looking at how he became the trickster we know him as. I also really liked the Victorian setting; it made a nice contrast. I’d definitely read more by this author.

© bardofupton 2021

Reading project, week ending 21 Mar 2021

What have I read this week? Just one.

A Libertarian Walks Into A Bear: The Utopian Plot To Liberate An American Town (And Some Bears) by Matthew Hongoltz-Hetlin

This is a nonfiction book about an attempt by libertarians to take over the town of Grafton, New Hampshire. I found it really interesting, although I could have done without some of the humour. It was a fascinating look at how selfishness undermines the social contract.

© bardofupton 2021

Reading project, week ending 14 Mar 2021

What have I read this week? Just one.

Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology by David Graeber

This is a nonfiction book about anarchism and anthropology, and how anthropologists could theorise anarchism, and also, why they haven’t. I liked this; it was really interesting. I’m not sure I totally understood it, but it definitely have me things to think about.

Favourite quotes:

Such a theoretical emphasis opens the way to a theory of the relation of power not with knowledge, but with ignorance and stupidity. Because violence, particularly structural violence, where all the power is on one side, creates ignorance. If you have the power to hit people over the head whenever you want, you don’t have to trouble yourself too much figuring out what they think is going on, and therefore, generally speaking, you don’t. Hence the sure-fire way to simplify social arrangements, to ignore the incredibly complex play of perspectives, passions, insights, desires, and mutual understandings that human life is really made of, is to make a rule and threaten to attack anyone who breaks it. This is why violence has always been the favored recourse of the stupid: it is the one form of stupidity to which it is almost impossible to come up with an intelligent response. It is also of course the basis of the state.
Contrary to popular belief, bureaucracies do not create stupidity. They are ways of managing situations that are already inherently stupid because they are, ultimately, based on the arbitrariness of force.

p. 72-3

This is what I mean by “liberation in the imaginary.” To think about what it would take to live in a world in which everyone really did have the power to decide for themselves, individually and collectively, what sort of communities they wished to belong to and what sort of identities they wanted to take on—that’s really difficult. To bring about such a world would be almost unimaginably difficult. It would require changing almost everything. It also would meet with stubborn, and ultimately violent, opposition from those who benefit the most from existing arrangements. To instead write as if these identities are already freely created—or largely so—is easy, and it lets one entirely off the hook for the intri-
cate and intractable problems of the degree to which one’s own work is part of this very identity machine.
But it no more makes it true than talking about “late capitalism” will itself bring about industrial collapse or further social revolution.

p. 102-3
© bardofupton 2021