Monthly Archives: May 2007

Jeffrey Kripal on the BBC’s Thinking Allowed

May 15, 2007
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Jeffrey Kripal on the BBC’s Thinking Allowed

Jeffrey Kripal, author of Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion was featured last Wednesday on BBC Radio 4’s Thinking Allowed. Kripal was joined by Eileen Barker, Professor Emeritus of Sociology with Special Reference to the Study of Religion at the London School of Economics to discuss “the history of Esalen, its philosophy, and the effects it has had on the new age.” The Esalen institute was one of the leader’s in alternative and experiential education during the sixties and seventies. The revolutionary ideas, transformative spiritual practices, and innovative art forms it fostered attracted such luminary figures as Henry Miller, Joseph Campbell, Aldous Huxley, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Hunter S. Thompson, and others to it’s stunning locale on the face of the Pacific coastline. In Esalen, Kripal recounts the spectacular history of the institute and its profound influence on the American counterculture—an influence that continues to shape modern American society to this day. Read an excerpt from the book. . . .

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Press Release: Bennett et al., When the Press Fails

May 15, 2007
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Press Release: Bennett et al., When the Press Fails

Drawing on interviews with Washington insiders and astute analysis of mainstream reportage, When the Press Fails: Political Power and the News Media from Iraq to Katrina argues that the dependence of journalists on government sources has silenced credible voices from all but the highest circles of power—with disastrous results. The authors trace this harmful dependency across the arc of the Bush administration’s media-assisted political fortunes, beginning with an unflinching look at why major news outlets neglected to cover evidence against the presence of WMDs in Iraq. They find that such catastrophic blind spots, especially during the Abu Ghraib controversy, stemmed from a dearth of high-level officials within government willing to question the administration publicly. To remedy this shortcoming, the authors propose new practices aimed at diversifying the kinds of sources that professional conventions allow journalists to use. Seeing promise in the refreshingly balanced coverage of Hurricane Katrina, When the Press Fails ultimately illuminates how the press and the public alike can work toward a new kind of journalism, the emergence of which is absolutely vital to the future of our democracy. Read the press release. Read an excerpt from the book. . . .

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Review: Attlee, Isolarion

May 14, 2007
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Review: Attlee, Isolarion

The May 9 Sydney Morning Herald includes an excellent review of James Attlee’s new book, Isolarion: A Different Oxford Journey. Praising Attlee for his ability to transform a seemingly mundane trip down Oxford’s Cowley Road—a side-street just minutes from the author’s doorstep—into a fascinating travelogue of his adventures through the exotic and the extraordinary, reviewer Bruce Elder writes: Having lived in south Oxfordshire for seven years in the 1970s I have traveled up and down Oxford’s Cowley Road, which runs from Magdalen Bridge to the famous Morris car works, literally thousands of times. In all those journeys, not once did it occur to me that the rich diversity of cafes, shops, pubs, galleries and houses would be the suitable subject for a travel book. What a great idea. … Part of the appeal of this remarkable book is the way each shop manages to fire the author’s imagination. Thus a visit to a jeweller includes references to Shakespeare, Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy, Petrarch and Charlemagne and the porn shop on the corner evokes Lucretius, St Jerome and even the Bible. Each experience opens up worlds of associations and slowly the street becomes the world. Attlee describes in meticulous detail each . . .

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American Academy of the Arts and Sciences 2007 Fellows

May 14, 2007
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American Academy of the Arts and Sciences 2007 Fellows

The American Academy of the Arts and Sciences has announced the selection of their 2007 fellows. We were pleased to note that eleven University of Chicago Press authors and editors were honored with this impressive distinction. A press release on the Academy’s website quotes the organization’s president Emilio Bizzi saying: “Fellows are selected through a highly competitive process that recognizes individuals who have made preeminent contributions to their disciplines and to society at large.” This year’s recipients include: Michael Christ, lead editor of Harmonic Analysis and Partial Differential Equations: Essays in Honor of Alberto P. Calderon David M. Cutler, editor of The Changing Hospital Industry: Comparing Not-for-Profit and For-Profit Institutions and coeditor of Medical Care Output and Productivity. John A. Goldsmith, coauthor of The Chicago Guide to Your Academic Career: A Portable Mentor for Scholars from Graduate School through Tenure and editor of The Last Phonological Rule: Reflections on Constraints and Derivations. Robert Pogue Harrison, author of The Dominion of the Dead and Forests: The Shadow of Civilization. Mary Power, coeditor of Food Webs at the Landscape Level. N. Gregory Mankiw, editor of Monetary Policy. Anna J. Schwartz, author of Money in Historical Perspective. John L. Sullivan, coauthor of Political . . .

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Press Release: Bliss, The Discovery of Insulin

May 14, 2007
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Press Release: Bliss, The Discovery of Insulin

In The Discovery of Insulin—a brilliant, definitive history of one of the most significant and controversial medical events of modern times—award-winning historian Michael Bliss brings to light a bizarre clash of scientific personalities. When F. G. Banting and J. J. R. Macleod won the 1923 Nobel Prize for discovering and isolating insulin, Banting immediately announced that he was dividing his share of the prize with his young associate, C. H. Best. Macleod divided his share with a fourth member of the team, J. B. Collip. For the next sixty years medical opinion was intensely divided over the allotment of credit for the discovery of insulin. In resolving this controversy, Bliss also offers a wealth of new detail on such subjects as the treatment of diabetes before insulin and the life-and-death struggle to manufacture insulin. Read the press release. . . .

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Ebert and Gilfoyle honored by the Society of Midland Authors

May 11, 2007
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Ebert and Gilfoyle honored by the Society of Midland Authors

Two University of Chicago Press authors were honored last Tuesday at the Society of Midland Author’s annual awards ceremony. Roger Ebert’s Awake in the Dark: The Best of Roger Ebert received the top prize for adult non-fiction books, while Timothy J. Gilfoyle’s Millennium Park: Creating a Chicago Landmark also weighed in as a finalist in the same category. The awards contest is described on the Society’s website as a “competition … open to authors and poets who reside in, were born in, or have strong ties to the twelve-state Midwestern Heartland.” Ebert is an Illinois native while Gilfoyle is a professor of history at Loyola University Chicago. The winners will receive cash prizes, plaques, and of course, recognition from one of the Midwest’s most distinguished literary societies. Back in November we reprinted Ebert’s interview with Robert Altman on this blog. Our website also features “A Millennium Park Trivia Quiz” based on Gilfoyle’s book. . . .

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Press Release: Bergman, The Magic Lantern

May 11, 2007
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Press Release: Bergman, The Magic Lantern

"When a film is not a document, it is a dream. … At the editing table, when I run the strip of film through, frame by frame, I still feel that dizzy sense of magic of my childhood." Bergman, who has conveyed this heady sense of wonder and vision to moviegoers for decades, traces his lifelong love affair with film in his breathtakingly visual autobiography, The Magic Lantern: An Autobiography. More grand mosaic than linear account, Bergman’s vignettes trace his life from a rural Swedish childhood through his work in theater to Hollywood’s golden age, and a tumultuous romantic history that includes five wives and more than a few mistresses. Throughout, Bergman recounts his life in a series of deeply personal flashbacks that document some of the most important moments in twentieth-century filmmaking as well as the private obsessions of the man behind them. Ambitious in scope yet sensitively wrought, The Magic Lantern is a window to the mind of one of our era’s great geniuses. Read the press release. . . .

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Press Release: Koslow, The Silent Deep

May 11, 2007
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Press Release: Koslow, The Silent Deep

For thousands of years, both scientists and novices alike underestimated the enormous diversity of life in the deep seas. And until recently, they were right—or at least they were not yet proved wrong. Only in the last fifty years or so did the deep sea reveal itself to be a source of unimaginable wonders—Lilliputian fauna on the seafloor; seemingly bizarre life forms at mid-ocean depths; profusion of life at hot vents, cold seeps, and whale falls; and coldwater corals and fisheries on seamounts and deepwater reefs. The deep sea is, indeed, the last unexplored frontier on the planet. But just as research and exploration are rendering the briny deep accessible, a host of new threats is endangering it—the spread of trawling into the deep ocean, the buildup of humanity’s worst pollutants in deepwater life-forms, the potential consequences of climate change and ocean acidification, and the future mining of seabed minerals and methane hydrates for hydrocarbons. The Silent Deep: The Discovery, Ecology, and Conservation of the Deep Sea tells the stories of discovery of the deep sea, the ecologies of its ecosystems, and of the impact of humans, highlighting the importance of global stewardship in keeping this delicate ecosystem alive and . . .

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The 2006 Gordon J. Laing Prize

May 10, 2007
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The 2006 Gordon J. Laing Prize

At its award ceremony on Monday, April 30, the University of Chicago Press awarded the 2006 Gordon J. Laing Prize to W. J. T. Mitchell, the Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor of English and Art History, for his book What Do Pictures Want?: The Lives and Loves of Images. Awarded annually since 1963 by the Press, the Laing Prize is given to the Chicago faculty author, editor, or translator whose book has brought the greatest distinction to the Press’s list. In What Do Pictures Want? Mitchell explores the idea that images are not just inert objects that convey meaning but animated beings with desires, needs, appetites, demands, and drives of their own. The book highlights Mitchell’s innovative and profoundly influential thinking on picture theory and the lives and loves of images. Ranging across the visual arts, literature, and mass media, Mitchell applies characteristically brilliant and wry analyses to Byzantine icons and cyberpunk films, racial stereotypes and public monuments, ancient idols and modern clones, offensive images and found objects, American photography and aboriginal painting. Mitchell becomes only the third faculty member to win the Laing Prize twice; he also won the 1996 prize for Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual . . .

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Review: Brague, The Law of God

May 10, 2007
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Review: Brague, The Law of God

Yesterday’s New York Sun features a review of Rémi Brague’s new book The Law of God: The Philosophical History of an Idea. Comparing Brague’s newest work with his fascinating cultural history of cosmology, The Wisdom of the World, reviewer Adam Kirsch writes: In The Law of God, Mr. Brague undertakes another journey through the buried continent of the ancient and medieval mind. But his topic this time—the idea of divine law, as it was understood from the ancient Greeks through the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish middle ages—does not seem nearly so remote. Humanity has long conceded that the structure of the inanimate world is the province of science. But most of us continue to believe that the moral law has other, deeper sources. … That is why The Law of God strikes the reader with more intimate force than The Wisdom of the World. Mr. Brague’s earlier book was archaeology, the digging up of something dead and buried; his new one is genealogy, tracing the descent of ideas that are still living. … Brague’s sense of intellectual adventure is what makes his work genuinely exciting to read. The Law of God offers a challenge that anyone concerned with today’s religious . . .

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