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These are but a few of the books I adore for challenging assumptions and methods of thought. I recommend their contents to all who are interested in creating, beauty, knowledge, understanding, and fairness. An example of assumptions and peculiarities of thought: uncovering confusion and creating clarity between empathy and sympathy, particularly within the realm of internet writing. Improperly used concepts form treacherous holes in the pavement of our social well-being, slowly giving way to wash-outs and tragic malice. And so as I read and reread, chewing on the contents of these books, I begin to realize it is not our thoughts that form reality, but an assumed order formed by collectively chanting either falseness and undermining fair action, or the courage to chant truth and lay foundations for fairness. For example, the difference between empathy and sympathy is found in the results of those actions otherwise witnessed as that which is created and observable within the world. This is one example of thinking on Platonic Ideals I work with throughout my endeavours in reading.



On the topic of pain, Elaine Scarry articulates with great detail the examples and differences in bodily and emotional perception. In her method of focusing on the core of pain and subjectivity, psychological constructs are revealed. Her work makes clear distinctions, backed by an extensive bibliography of research, whereas the banality of run-of-the-mill advice columns conflate. Scarry’s work makes a clear, empathetic response to pain would not be to sympathise but instead to offer connection and tools for the body in the pain. Sympathy disables and disarms energy that would be used to reach out for support and transformation and serves in furthering pain and isolation. This distinction makes a clear pivot between what true and false empathy looks like. We can witness empathy as beauty, not vanity, but a feeling of beauty that does not beg for recognition but stands in a way of being learning to digest nuance in discernment. Beauty becomes known when it is felt as correct action that emanates positively (not destructively) outward, and the action is not served as a command, but as a reminder and enabling tool in situations soaked in pain. The world of living creatures knows great pain through not only a lack of kindness but assumptions about what is kind. These assumptions can serve to further reify the proselytised oppressive systems they claim to mitigate or transform. The unreasonable logic of mainstream thought leaders is challenged and readers are invited to their birthright of growth through thinking for themselves and inner trust. By tending to such work, the endless problem-solution-fix common in the addictive self-help genre is unlocked to embrace a perspective on a world that is not broken, but full of misconceptions that can be nurtured for a richer process of personal and relational growth.



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Title, Author

Sensitive Chaos, Theodore Schwenk

The Body in Pain, Elaine Scarrythe body in pain

On Beauty and Being Just, Elaine Scarry

Travels in Hyperreality, Umberto Eco

Chronicles of a Liquid Society, Uberto Eco

The Holographic Universe, Michael Talbot

The Painted Word, Tom Wolfe

A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle

Ways of Seeing, John Berger

The Alchemy of Air, Thomas Hager

Art and Culture: Critical Essays, Clement Greenberg

The Death of the Author, Roland Barthes

Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments, Theodor W. Adorno

The Eternal Moment, Estelle Jussimon beauty

The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media, Walter Benjamin

The Vision of the Anointed, Thomas Sowell

Einsteins Dreams, Alan Lightman

The Fatal Conceit, Friedrich Hayak

Utopia Is Creepy, Nicholas Carr

The Glass Cage, Nicholas Carr

The Laugh of Medusa, Helene Cixous

Selected Cronicas, Clarice Lispector

Formless: A User’s Guide, Yve-alain Bois and Rosalind E. Krauss

The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis, Lydia Davis

Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Gilles Deleuze

Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, Michel Foucault

The Art of the Personal Essay: An Anthology from the Classical Era to the Present, Phillip Lopate

Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1972-77, Michel Foucault

Madness and Civilisation: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason, Michel Foucault

Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit: A Commentary Based on the Preface and Introduction, Werner Marx

Subculture: The Meaning of Style, Richard Dick Hebdige

Why Your Five Year Old Could Not Have Done That: Modern Art Explained, Susie Hodge

The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety, Alan A. Watts

Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda

The Society of the Spectacle, Guy Debord

Illuminations: Essays and Reflections, Walter Benjamin

Mythologies, Roland Barthes

Social Psychology, Saul Kassin

C.G. Jung and Hermann Hesse: A Book of Two Friendships, Miguel Serrano

A Short Course in Photography: An Introduction to Black and White Photographic Technique, Barbara London

Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide to Chinese Medicine, Harriet Beinfield

Siddhartha, Herman Hesse

Photography: A Cultural History, Mary Warner Marien

On Being Blue, William H. Gass

Through Another Lens: My Years with Edward Weston, Charis Wilson

Tao Te Ching, Lao Tsu

The Path of Least Resistance, Robert Fritz

Identity: Why it Doesn’t Matter What You Think About Yourself, Robert Fritz

The Celestine Prophecy, James Redfield

The Key Muscles of Hatha Yoga, Ray Long

Yoga for Transformation: Ancient Teachings and Practices for Healing the Body, Mind, and Heart, Gary Kraftsow

Classic Essays on Photography, Alan Trachtenberg

The Four Agreements, A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, Miguel Ruiz

Science of Breath, Swami Rama

The Crack in the Cosmic Egg: New Constructs of Mind and Reality, Joseph Chilton Pearce

The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Daybooks of Edward Weston, Two Volumes in One: I. Mexico II. California, Edward Weston

I Ching: Book of Changes, Anonymous

The Will to Meaning: Foundations and Applications of Logotherapy, Viktor E. Frankl

Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, David Bayles

Awareness Through Movement: Easy-to-do Health Exercises to Improve Your Posture, Vision, Imagination, Personal Awareness, Moshe Feldenkrais

The Columbia Dictionary of Modern Literary and Cultural Criticism, Joseph W. Childers

Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Paralle; Universes, Time Warps, and the 10th Dimension

Meditations in and Emergency, Frank O’Hara

On Photography, Susan Sontag

Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, Roland Barthes

Manufactured Landscapes: The Photographs of Edward Burtynsky, Lori Pauli

Picnic Lightening, Billy Collins

Originality and the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths, Rosalind E. Krauss

Critique of Pure Reason, Immanuel Kant

The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture, Hal Foster

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath

The End of Mr. Y, Scarlett Thomas

On the Road, Jack Kerouac

A Nietzsche Reader, Friedrich Nietzsche

The Book of Questions, Pablo Neruda

A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Rebecca Solnit

A Guide for the Perplexed, Ernst F. Schumacher

The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

Franny and Zooey, J.D. Salinger

Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor E. Frankl

Wolfgang Tillmans: View from Above, Zdenek Felix

This is Your Brain on Joy: How the New Science of Happiness Can Help You Feel Good and Be Happy, Earl Henslin

The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

The Price of Motherhood, Ann Crittenden

Women: Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype, Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Yoga Anatomy, Leslie Kaminoff

The Art of Happiness at Work, Dalai Lama XIV

The Birth of Tragedy/The Case of Wagner, Friedrich Nietzsche

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Aimee Bender

Manifesting Minds, A Review of Psychedelics in Science, Medicine, Sex, and Spirituality, Rick Doblin

What is an Author, Michel Foucault

The Flat Rabbit, Bardur Oskarsson

Hold Still,  Sally Mann

The Turning Point, Fritjof Capra

Fear and Trembling, Repetition, Søren Kirkegaard

Mathematics and Art, Exploiring the Invisible Art Science Spiritual, Dreams 1900-2000, Madness in America, Lynn Grimwell

Many Lives Many Masters, Brian Weiss

The Fung Shui Handbook: How to Create a Healthier Living & Working Environment, Lam Kam Chuen

How to Love, Thich Nhat Hanh

The Disappearance of the Universe, Gary R Reward

The Red Book, Liber Novus by CG Jung

Watermark Documentary, movie, Jennifer Baichwal and Edward Burtynsky

The World Cataclysm, Patrick Geryl

Prophecies, Gilbert & Cotterell

The Photographers Eye, Szarkowski

Mythologies, Roland Barthes

Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes

Something About Photography Theory, Victor Burgin

Burning With Desire: The Conception of Photography, Geoffrey Batchen

Classic Essays on Photography, Alan Trachtenberg

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Walter Benjamin

The Originality of the Avante-Garde and Other Modernist Myths, Rosalind Krauss

Selected Writings, Volume II, Walter Benjamin

Image, Music, Text, Roland Barthes/Stephen Heath

The Context of Meaning, Richard Bolton

Before Photography, Peter Galassi

Photography Against the Grain: Essays and Photo Works 1, Allan Sekula

The Book of Floating, Michael Hutchinson

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