GIFT IDEAS

Foreword Reviews - - Contents - by Matt Suther­land

ERIC WERT Still Life Richard Speer, Shawn Van­dor, Eric Wert (Il­lus­tra­tor) Pomegranate (SEPTEM­BER) Hard­cover $35 (128pp) 978-0-7649-8190-6

Artists lean to­ward the ec­cen­tric, it’s true—each artist in their own way. When asked about his early de­ci­sion to ex­clu­sively paint still lifes of flow­ers and fruit, Eric Wert had this to say: “Be­cause I’m not very so­cial, and re­ally have no de­sire to learn how to be so­cial, I chose a dis­ci­pline that al­most no one else was in­ter­ested in. The re­sult is that the only peo­ple I’m re­ally in di­a­logue with, day in and day out, are artists … whom have been dead for hun­dreds of years.”

Which qual­i­fies Wert as a true Re­nais­sance man.

But his hy­per­re­al­is­tic, volup­tuous use of color and wry will­ing­ness to in­clude slugs, ants, and other hum­ble crit­ters of the field in his com­po­si­tions is ut­terly unique—and in­com­pa­ra­ble, even to the best work of fif­teenth and six­teenth cen­tury Eu­ro­pean masters.

In his quest to paint at the high­est level, Wert taught him­self to “see” very slowly, but con­stantly, un­til the per­ceived be­comes al­most un­rec­og­niz­able and, thus, new. “It is a ‘see­ing’ whose aes­thetic sig­ni­fi­ca­tion shines be­yond na­ture, be­yond tech­nique, be­yond even imag­i­na­tion, while at the same time in­cor­po­rat­ing all three,” ex­plains Shawn Van­dor, one of the es­say­ists (along with art critic and cu­ra­tor Richard Speer) cho­sen to de­tail Wert’s evo­lu­tion as a still life artist and place his work within an aca­demic and cul­tural con­text in Eric Wert: Still Life —along with re­pro­duc­tions of one hun­dred of Wert’s stun­ning oil paint­ings and the artist’s own de­scrip­tions of his metic­u­lous tech­nique.

CARL LLEWELLYN WESCHCKE Pi­o­neer and Pub­lisher of Body, Mind & Spirit Me­lanie Mar­quis, Llewellyn World­wide (SEPTEM­BER) Hard­cover $26.99 (336pp), 978-0-7387-5327-0

A New Age is upon us. Thank­fully, a hand­ful of pub­lish­ers have stepped in to pro­vide the es­o­teric ma­te­ri­als needed to spread the mind­body-spirit word, ini­ti­ate the Wic­can masses, in­tro­duce the mag­ick lead­ers, starry-eye the astrologers, and power the oc­cult’s su­per­nat­u­ral en­deav­ors. With­out a doubt, most of the book-pub­lish­ing credit be­longs to Llewellyn Publi­ca­tions and its long­time pres­i­dent, Carl Llewellyn Weschcke, con­sid­ered by many to be the fa­ther of the New Age.

Weschcke died in 2016. His friend and fel­low Wic­can Me­lanie Mar­quis, founder of the United Witches global coven, took it upon her­self to write this de­fin­i­tive bi­og­ra­phy, Carl Llewellyn Weschcke: Pi­o­neer and Pub­lisher of Body, Mind & Spirit. Weschcke’s large Amer­i­can life and coun­ter­cul­ture pas­sions make for fas­ci­nat­ing read­ing.

PA­PER DOLLS Hor­mazd Nariel­walla, Sylph Edi­tions (AU­GUST) Soft­cover $50 (80pp), 978-1-909631-30-4

What the world needs is more whimsy. More col­lage with col­ored pa­per, pussy bows, pea­cock feath­ers, and sticky tape to keep the whole to­gether. Yes, whimsy—in this case, in a pic­ture book shape, fea­tur­ing a preen­ing poet play­ing make be­lieve. But

The physique I in­habit is solid, large-boned, stocky, chunky and hairy Let there be no mis­take, I’m still a FAIRY.

He longs to be some­thing else, and then

A strik­ing WOMAN walks past my plate. I am in­trigued by her equanimity. SHE IS ex­tra­or­di­nary. Every­thing my ego as­pires to be. Part GEISHA, part HU­MAN, part DOLL — A mag­i­cal crea­ture in her en­tirety.

A mas­ter pup­peteer, spe­cial­iz­ing in ab­stract col­lage de­signs on vin­tage sewing pat­terns, Hor­mazd Nariel­walla lives in London. This il­lus­trated ex­trav­a­ganza col­lects thirty eight of his un­for­get­table works, guided along by self-por­traits in prose.

HUMDINGER Michael A. Mal­pass, Chicken Man Me­dia (JUNE) Hard­cover $49.95 (160pp), 978-0-692-95584-0

Brush, char­coal, chisel, file, lathe, and pot­ter’s wheel, yes, but what is it about artists’ tools like the chain­saw and weld­ing torch that fail to im­press so many art lovers and crit­ics—as if real art can’t pos­si­bly come from such a blue-col­lar, rough-and-tum­ble back­ground?

In the case of Michael Mal­pass’s sculp­tures—many fea­tur­ing hun­dreds of pieces of scrap metal and weigh­ing sev­eral thou­sand pounds––it is im­pos­si­ble not to rec­og­nize his in­no­va­tions in the craft of weld­ing and black­smithing as any­thing other than ge­nius. A mas­ter of the sphere, Mal­pass would some­times work on the in­side of mas­sive sea buoys that had been cut in half. He would lit­er­ally climb in, weld the in­tri­cate pieces to­gether, drag the work out of the buoy, in­vert it, join the two halves, and painstak­ingly grind away the weld­ing seams.

Other spheres were more mod­estly sized but mind­bog­glingly de­tailed, even del­i­cate in their spiky as­sem­bled parts ap­pear­ing to ex­plode from the cen­ter. Gen­eral Elec­tric com­mis­sioned his work, as did Exxonmo­bil, Ford Foun­da­tion, Pfizer Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal, the state of New Jer­sey, and dozens of other no­table en­ti­ties. At forty-four and at the peak of his ca­reer, Mal­pass died un­ex­pect­edly. Au­thored by his son, Humdinger is a com­pelling pho­to­graphic jour­ney of this ex­tra­or­di­nary artist’s life, his work, and tech­niques.

THE HISTORY OF KARATE AND THE MASTERS WHO MADE IT De­vel­op­ment, Lineages, and Philoso­phies of Tra­di­tional Ok­i­nawan and Ja­pa­nese Karatedo Mark I. Cramer, North At­lantic Books (JULY) Soft­cover $18.95 (198pp), 978-1-62317-240-4

Due to their iso­lated po­si­tion in the East China Sea, the is­lands of Ok­i­nawa de­vel­oped with strong in­flu­ences from both China and Ja­pan. But in the years fol­low­ing Ja­pan’s 1609 in­va­sion and a sub­se­quent ban on weapons, Ok­i­nawans turned to the “empty hand” fight­ing/self-de­fense tech­niques long prac­ticed in China, which grad­u­ally de­vel­oped into the dis­tinct form of weapon­less com­bat known as karate. Af­ter Ja­pan’s de­feat in World War II and the coun­try’s move to­wards paci­fism, karate masters dras­ti­cally toned down the mar­tial/ dead­li­ness as­pect and be­gan to teach karate as a com­pet­i­tive sport, as done in the West.

In The History of Karate and the Masters Who Made It, Mark Cramer de­tails all man­ner of karate history and tra­di­tion, sources the dif­fer­ent lineages of mod­ern styles and shows how they were in­flu­enced by cul­tural and po­lit­i­cal events, of­fers bi­ogra­phies of sev­eral of the great karate masters, and gen­er­ally de­liv­ers a highly read­able trea­tise on one of Ja­pan’s most im­por­tant gifts to the world.

KOREA Where the Amer­i­can Cen­tury Be­gan Michael Pem­broke, Oneworld Publi­ca­tions (AU­GUST) Hard­cover $27.99 (368pp), 978-1-78607-473-7

The af­ter­math of the blood­bath that was World War II did not leave any of the vic­to­ri­ous states much rea­son to be ju­bi­lant. Scarred and wary of each other, Rus­sia, China, and the United States all ma­neu­vered geopo­lit­i­cally to ad­vance their in­ter­ests, and sev­eral re­gions in Europe and Asia grad­u­ally emerged as flash­points of con­tention be­tween the great pow­ers.

Korea stands out for pit­ting Stalin and Tru­man against each other (just days af­ter the atomic bombs were dropped on Ja­pan) when the United States abruptly chose to cre­ate an ar­ti­fi­cial divi­sion of Korea at the thirty-eighth par­al­lel, and then to oc­cupy the coun­try on the south side of the line. That de­ci­sion di­rectly led to the dis­as­trous Korean War (in­volv­ing China) and sixty-plus years of sky­high ten­sion on the Korean Penin­sula.

Michael Pem­broke’s Korea: Where the Amer­i­can Cen­tury Be­gan is un­remit­ting in de­tail­ing the pol­i­tics at play in Korea’s re­cent history, as well as in pre­vi­ous cen­turies when the Korean peo­ple dis­tin­guished them­selves as one of the great cul­tures of Asia, but this project will be re­mem­bered for show­cas­ing how Amer­ica’s mil­i­tarism has its roots in the re­cent Korean con­flicts.

THE HANDY LIT­ER­A­TURE AN­SWER BOOK An En­gag­ing Guide to Un­rav­el­ing Sym­bols, Signs, and Mean­ings in Great Works Daniel S. Burt, Deb­o­rah G. Felder, Vis­i­ble Ink Press (JULY) Soft­cover $21.95 (500pp) 978-1-57859-635-5

Am I miss­ing some­thing? Who among us hasn’t whis­pered those words while piec­ing to­gether dis­parate plot­lines in a novel, or drew blanks at the use of sym­bol­ism and al­lu­sion prac­ticed by cer­tain in­tel­lec­tual writ­ers—sub­tle ref­er­ences to Lu­cretius, Mon­taigne’s thoughts on idle­ness, Jane Austen’s pow­der room rou­tines, or some other tid­bit from lit­er­a­ture’s deep well? But good writ­ers em­ploy these tac­tics be­cause they make the read­ing ex­pe­ri­ence far richer—for those who can fol­low along.

The Handy Lit­er­a­ture An­swer Book: An En­gag­ing Guide to Un­rav­el­ing Sym­bols, Signs, and Mean­ings in Great Works just made that job much eas­ier. Daniel S. Burt and Deb­o­rah G. Felder in­ves­ti­gate hun­dreds of im­por­tant works to show­case the ex­pert use of lit­er­ary de­vices by au­thors through­out history. Equally im­por­tant, they pro­vide guid­ance for get­ting the most out of short sto­ries, po­ems, memoirs, lit­er­ary non­fic­tion, as well as the novel. In a nine-page spread on James Joyce, the au­thors de­tail “Joyce’s con­tri­bu­tions to the mod­ern short story,” and ex­plain “how the sto­ries in Dublin­ers op­er­ate,” and these are just two ex­am­ples of ex­ten­sive Joyce-re­lated fod­der that the au­thors ex­plore. In terms of en­ter­tain­ment, The Handy Lit­er­a­ture An­swer Guide is an ex­cep­tional project to leap about in—from Samuel Beckett to Toni Mor­ri­son, El­iz­a­bethan drama to why speed read­ing isn’t rec­om­mended, and so much more.

ETHNOPHARMACOLOGIC SEARCH FOR PSY­CHOAC­TIVE DRUGS 50 Years of Re­search (1967 - 2017) Den­nis Mckenna (Ed­i­tor), Syn­er­getic Press (JULY) Hard­cover $125 (832pp) 978-0-907791-68-3

Be so kind as to sus­pend your be­liefs about psy­choac­tive plants like ayahuasca and in­stead con­sider al­ter­na­tives: that ayahuasca is “an in­tel­li­gent en­tity,” “a gift of na­ture con­vey­ing mes­sages from the bio­sphere,” “a por­tal to spir­i­tual di­men­sions,” or “an agent of cog­ni­tive shamanic trans­for­ma­tion,” in the words of Brazil­ian Luis Ed­uardo Luna, di­rec­tor of the Wasi­waska Re­search Cen­ter for the Study of Psy­choin­te­gra­tor Plants, and one of the world’s fore­most au­thor­i­ties on the ayahuasca plant.

Luna was a pre­sen­ter at the 2017 50th An­niver­sary Ethnopharmacologic Search for Psy­choac­tive Drugs Sym­po­sium, along with nearly twenty other ex­perts in chem­istry, botany, an­thro­pol­ogy, and ethnophar­ma­col­ogy, all gath­ered to dis­cuss their ethnophar­ma­col­ogy re­search and other psy­choac­tive ideas col­lected over the past fifty years since the first sym­po­sium.

Much of their dis­cus­sion cen­ters around the in­dige­nous peo­ples of the world who have uti­lized these mirac­u­lous psy­che­delic fungi and plants (even the skin se­cre­tions of frogs and toads) in their cul­tures and re­li­gions. Of course, what’s most ex­cit­ing is the po­ten­tial for ad­di­tional ther­a­peu­tic dis­cov­er­ies, once the sub­stances are bet­ter un­der­stood.

This ex­haus­tive, nec­es­sary two vol­ume set in­cludes all the pa­pers given at both the 1967 and 2017 sym­po­siums.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.