At the beginning of the semester I found myself in a reading rut; between when I left the States with a load of linguistics-type books in July '09 and when I returned to Korea from India/Sadhana in late February, my interests had apparently changed dramatically. I could no longer concentrate on reading spiffy things about verbs and syntax and performatives, etc. I tried in vain to get through Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations and Austen's How to Do Things with Words, but I was nagged by the feeling that, no matter how interesting, linguistics was a somewhat selfish pursuit. What will it matter to anyone anywhere if I can parse a sentence a bit better? I'm not trying to write off an entire discipline, since I of course still find it all very interesting. I just couldn't quite match up the selflessness to which I was aspiring in my diet and actions and the seemingly reclusive, technical, interesting-intellectual-puzzle-but-is-it-really-much-more? aspects of linguistics. So I got frustrated and mostly stopped reading.
But then I bought some used books on Amazon and had my mom mail me a package. I couldn't have known then that Derrick Jensen's Endgame, about which I posted exactly 4 months ago, would send me off on a sort of book-odyssey (made possible by my obliging, library-card possessing friend Daeju Kim AKA Julio at Seoul National Unversity), leading me to question and reformulate my ideas about...education, the environment and man's relation to it, how to live almost-sustainably in Vermont, the nature of schizophrenia, the shortfalls of veganism, the complexity of plants and the dangers of pharmeceuticals, the relationship between the pervasiveness of competition and dissemblance in the industrial economy and the mental health of the individuals and families who participate in it; and the possibility of TV being turned into a healthy, useful medium. I have apparently become obsessed with thinking about how to eat, how to consume, how to medicate, how to relate to the planet, how to teach, and how to entertain myself in ways that are, for lack of a more exact word, nice.
I don't know if I'm just trying to show off, or if I'm making a list for posterity, or whatever else, but in any case, I feel compelled to share the list of the books I've been devouring since spring rolled around. If I had a little more time, a bit more confidence in my newfound (somewhat) radical mentality, and a slightly smaller sense of ever-increasing estrangement, I might write some synopses or reviews or at least provide some quotations. But I'm not quite there yet. In the meantime, check them out on wikipedia or Amazon. That is, if estrangement is something you're looking for.
Derrick Jensen - Walking on Water
Derrick Jensen - A Language Older than Words
Neill Everndren - The Natural Alien
Helen and Scott Nearing - The Good Life
R.D. Laing - The Politics of Experience
Lierre Kieth - The Vegetarian Myth
Stephen Harold Buhner - The Lost Language of Plants
Jules Henry - Culture Against Man
Jerry Mander - Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television
I am pretty sure this list is missing a book or two. I think I need to order some awesome not-so-new Undeployed(TM) bookmarks!
(Of course, throughout all of this, I have been consulting my Handbook of Korean Vocabulary: A Resource for Word Recognition and Comprehension and my Korean Grammar for International Learners along with the accompanying Workbook. Not to mention Seoul National University Language Education Institute Korean Level 4 and its own Workbook. But I don't expect these to interest you all so much.)