2009 Book & Music Recap

This is the first part of my annual recap of my year in media. Tomorrow I will probably look back at the movies of ’09.

I didn’t really keep up with music this year as much as I normally do. But in no particular order, the releases I was most fond of from this year were:

1. Dan Auerbach – Keep It Hid
2. Chuck Ragan – Gold Country
3. A.A. Bondy – When the Devil’s Loose
4. Avett Brothers – I and Love and You
5. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – s/t
6. The Monsters of Folk – s/t
7. M. Ward – Hold Time
8. Mindy Smith – Stupid Love

I should probably confess to loving half of Only By the Night but hating myself for it.

The books I read this year are listed below. I again fell short of my goal, but in this age of illiteracy I consider any number over zero to be a personal triumph.
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Anarcho-Bokononism

Ok, there’s no such thing as anarcho-Bokononism. But Bokononism, the fictional true religion created by Kurt Vonnegut in Cat’s Cradle, does have some interesting similarities with Christian anarchism. Perhaps the most obvious is the Bokononist repudiation of granfalloons, or false communities. A “textbook example” of a granfalloon (or false karass) is the association of Hoosiers, or people who feel that hailing from Indiana somehow bonds them in some meaningful way. Writ larger, there’s strong anti-nationalism here for “any nation, anytime, anywhere” is also a granfalloon. I think Christianity at its best can work as a true karass, but we ignore this when, say, we bomb fellow Iraqi Christians because of our misplaced trust in the granfalloon known as America.

There’s also some explicit Bokononist verses that I find very interesting. The first is from an unspecified chapter of The Books of Bokonon: “The words were a paraphrase of the suggestion by Jesus: ‘Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s.”

Bokonon’s paraphrase was this:
“Pay no attention to Caesar. Caesar doesn’t have the slightest idea of what’s really going on.”

Which seems to me a great anarchist rendering of Matthew 22:21. I’m also pretty partial to this “calypso” which is apocryphally attributed to Bokonon but doesn’t appear in The Books of Bokonon:

So I said good-bye to government,
And I have my reason:
That a really good religion
Is a form of treason.

Today’s Kierkegaardian either/or for you: Legitimize the state, dilute our religion, and taste power… or oppose the state, keep our religion, and become marginalized.

Books Read in 2008

I tried to read a book/week again, which seems very reasonable, but fell short once again. I’m about halfway through a dozen other books, which I’ll probably just finish & count for ’09. Under each category, they’re listed in the order I read them. Incidentally, the first book I read in 2008 was The Audacity of Hope by Mister Obama. (more…)