An exploration, both personal and deeply reported, of how we learn to eat in today's toxic food culture.
Food is supposed to sustain and nourish us. Eating well, any doctor will tell you, is the best way to take care of yourself. Feeding well, any human will tell you, is the most important job a mother has. But for too many of us, food now feels dangerous. We parse every bite we eat as good or bad, and judge our own worth accordingly. When her newborn daughter stopped eating after a medical crisis, Virginia Sole-Smith spent two years teaching her how to feel safe around food again -- and in the process, realized just how many of us are struggling to do the same thing.
The Eating Instinct visits kitchen tables around America to tell Sole-Smith's own story, as well as the stories of women recovering from weight loss surgery, of people who eat only nine foods, of families with unlimited grocery budgets and those on food stamps. Every struggle is unique. But Sole-Smith shows how they're also all products of our modern food culture. And they're all asking the same questions: How did we learn to eat this way? Why is it so hard to feel good about food? And how can we make it better?
What does it mean for someone to be an asshole? The answer is not obvious, despite the fact that we are often personally stuck dealing with people for whom there is no better name. Try as we might to avoid them, assholes are found everywhere and in multiple iterations: smug assholes, royal assholes, the presidential asshole, corporate assholes, reckless assholes. The list goes on. Asshole management begins with asshole understanding. Much as Machiavelli illuminated political strategy for princes, this book finally gives us the concepts to think or say why assholes disturb us so, and explains why such people seem part of the human social condition, especially in an age of raging narcissism and unbridled capitalism. These concepts are also practically useful, as understanding the asshole we are stuck with helps us think constructively about how to handle problems he (and they are mostly all men) presents. We get a better sense of when the asshole is best resisted, and when he is best ignored--a better sense of what is, and what is not, worth fighting for.
"The most important--and provocative--anthropological fieldwork ever undertaken." --Tom WolfeFor years, the prevailing opinion among academics has been that language is embedded in our genes, existing as an innate and instinctual part of us. In this bold and provocative study, linguist Daniel Everett argues that, like other tools, language was invented by humans and can be reinvented or lost. He shows how the evolution of different language forms--that is, different grammar--reflects how language is influenced by human societies and experiences, and how it expresses their great variety. Combining anthropology, primatology, computer science, philosophy, linguistics, psychology, and his own pioneering research with the Amazonian Pirah , and using insights from many different languages and cultures, Everett presents an unprecedented elucidation of this society-defined nature of language. In doing so, he also gives us a new understanding of how we think and who we are.
In a volume that represents the culmination of his life's work in considering the relationship between culture and landscape, eminent scholar Yi-Fu Tuan argues that "cosmos" and "hearth" are two scales that anchor what it means to be fully and happily human. Illustrating this contention with examples from both his native China and his home of the past forty years, the United States, Tuan proposes a revised conception of culture, one thoroughly grounded in one's own society but also embracing curiosity about the world. Optimistic and deeply human, this important volume lays out a path to being "at home in the cosmos."
On Highway 61 explores the historical context of the significant social dissent that was central to the cultural genesis of the sixties. The book is going to search for the deeper roots of American cultural and musical evolution for the past 150 years by studying what the Western European culture learned from African American culture in a historical progression that reaches from the minstrel era to Bob Dylan.The book begins with America's first great social critic, Henry David Thoreau, and his fundamental source of social philosophy: ---his profound commitment to freedom, to abolitionism and to African-American culture. Continuing with Mark Twain, through whom we can observe the rise of minstrelsy, which he embraced, and his subversive satirical masterpiece Huckleberry Finn. While familiar, the book places them into a newly articulated historical reference that shines new light and reveals a progression that is much greater than the sum of its individual parts. As the first post-Civil War generation of black Americans came of age, they introduced into the national culture a trio of musical forms--ragtime, blues, and jazz-- that would, with their derivations, dominate popular music to this day. Ragtime introduced syncopation and become the cutting edge of the modern 20th century with popular dances. The blues would combine with syncopation and improvisation and create jazz. Maturing at the hands of Louis Armstrong, it would soon attract a cluster of young white musicians who came to be known as the Austin High Gang, who fell in love with black music and were inspired to play it themselves. In the process, they developed a liberating respect for the diversity of their city and country, which they did not see as exotic, but rather as art. It was not long before these young white rebels were the masters of American pop music - big band Swing. As Bop succeeded Swing, and Rhythm and Blues followed, each had white followers like the Beat writers and the first young rock and rollers. Even popular white genres like the country music of Jimmy Rodgers and the Carter Family reflected significant black influence. In fact, the theoretical separation of American music by race is not accurate. This biracial fusion achieved an apotheosis in the early work of Bob Dylan, born and raised at the northern end of the same Mississippi River and Highway 61 that had been the birthplace of much of the black music he would study. As the book reveals, the connection that began with Thoreau and continued for over 100 years was a cultural evolution where, at first individuals, and then larger portions of society, absorbed the culture of those at the absolute bottom of the power structure, the slaves and their descendants, and realized that they themselves were not free.
Named A Best Book of 2011 by the New York Times, Time Magazine, the Boston Globe and Entertainment WeeklyA sharp-eyed, uniquely humane tour of America's cultural landscape--from high to low to lower than low--by the award-winning young star of the literary nonfiction world. In Pulphead, John Jeremiah Sullivan takes us on an exhilarating tour of our popular, unpopular, and at times completely forgotten culture. Simultaneously channeling the gonzo energy of Hunter S. Thompson and the wit and insight of Joan Didion, Sullivan shows us--with a laidback, erudite Southern charm that's all his own--how we really (no, really) live now. In his native Kentucky, Sullivan introduces us to Constantine Rafinesque, a nineteenth-century polymath genius who concocted a dense, fantastical prehistory of the New World. Back in modern times, Sullivan takes us to the Ozarks for a Christian rock festival; to Florida to meet the alumni and straggling refugees of MTV's Real World, who've generated their own self-perpetuating economy of minor celebrity; and all across the South on the trail of the blues. He takes us to Indiana to investigate the formative years of Michael Jackson and Axl Rose and then to the Gulf Coast in the wake of Katrina--and back again as its residents confront the BP oil spill. Gradually, a unifying narrative emerges, a story about this country that we've never heard told this way. It's like a fun-house hall-of-mirrors tour: Sullivan shows us who we are in ways we've never imagined to be true. Of course we don't know whether to laugh or cry when faced with this reflection--it's our inevitable sob-guffaws that attest to the power of Sullivan's work.
Thomas Frank has been sending wake-up calls to just about everyone within reach over the past decade, in venues from The Village Voice to Harper's. His takes on labor politics, advertising, the virtues of the Midwest, and how un-cool you really are have won him a wide audience, and in this piece, Frank gives us a reading of cultural studies--viewed by some as an important new perspective in the academy, but by others as an unwieldy theoretical fad.
Henry A. Giroux challenges the contemporary politics of cynicism by addressing a number of issues including the various attacks on cultural politics, the multicultural discourses of academia, the corporate attack on higher education, and the cultural politics of the Disney empire.