Saturday, June 19, 2010

Favorite Books

In response to a mail art call sponsored by the Paint Rock River Valley Postal Authority, Cascadia Artpost created a block of four artistamps calling attention to favorite books. The call was for "favorite book," but who can point to just a single book and call it their favorite book? The artistamps were printed on February 26, 2010.

The aristamp designs are based on scans of four book covers.

A Pattern language by Christopher Alexander et al. is a unique handbook first published in 1977 and now has gone through 20 printings. Based on empirical observations that aim to identify a set of structural and spatial patterns of human buildings and communities that function well, sustain individuals psychologically, and appear inviting, this book is subversive to what architects have been doing the past 30 years. Nikos Salingaros calls A Pattern Language "one of the great books of the century." One could say any century.

A Glass Face in the Rain is a 1982 collection of poems by the late Cascadian poet William Stafford. Stafford's poems are often set in the western United States and contain a certain affirmation, confidence, and optimism that we find attractive even in the face of darkness. These poems embody the spirit of Cascadia.

The Brothers K by David James Duncan is a wonderful epic novel about the Chance family and set in the 1960's Vietnam War era. A coming of age tale about four brothers and twin sisters incorporates a number of interesting ingredients: baseball, fundamentalist Christianity, humor, and the response to circumstances that we personally lived through.

The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein is a critiqueof contemporary capitalism in the wake of wars, terrorist attacks, natural and human-made environmental disasters, and self-inflicted financial crises where the corporate state uses public disorientation to impose control through a mix of privatization, further deregulation, repression of unions and other opponents, reductions in social spending, and police/military repression. This all works, up to a point where reality overwhelms shock. The unfolding scope of degradation resulting from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is a case in point.

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