Great Essayists

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Re: Great Essayists

Postby Huang Guang Chen » 18 Jun 2011, 15:39

Almas, yes, that's also a superb read, and probably what I had more in mind about his polemic essays on the toadys, not least of which is that Australian author of Madam Mao (not a bad read. mind), who after returning from a field visit during the cultural revolution said everything was hunky dory.

I think Burning forest is more generally about Chinese culture. The title is from, I think a quote about a forest fire, which startles the birds, who fly about in panic with their feathers on fire spreading the flames. Chilling imagery.

Here's an extract from Ryckmans' 1996 Boyer lecture Are Books Useless?

So, two summaries of China essays from Leys/Ryckmans.
http://books.google.com/books/about/The_burning_forest.html?id=4oVgAAAACAAJ]The burning forest: essays on Chinese culture and politics

Chinese Shadows

A hard to find, and brilliant doco from Leys is called Peking duck soup.

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Re: Great Essayists

Postby yuli » 18 Jun 2011, 20:42

Susan Sontag
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Re: Great Essayists

Postby almas john » 18 Jun 2011, 20:58

yuli wrote:Susan Sontag

A nasty - perhaps evil - woman and a crap writer. What a strange choice!!! With your two-word post you have told us so very much about yourself.
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Re: Great Essayists

Postby yuli » 18 Jun 2011, 20:59

GuyInTaiwan wrote:I was hoping people could offer suggestions of essayists they like and why.

Susan Sontag
Noam Chomsky
All I need from essayists to consider them them "good" is a relatively high likelihood of them provoking my thinking with logically sound arguments.
Many of the ones that you and others have mentioned in this thread are on my list, as well.
almas john wrote:you have told us so very much about yourself.

The royal we? :wink:
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Re: Great Essayists

Postby GuyInTaiwan » 20 Jun 2011, 08:11

Thanks everyone. I'll check out Simon Leys in particular. I think I've looked briefly at something of his because someone posted something of his once before.
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Re: Great Essayists

Postby IYouThem » 14 Jul 2011, 01:12

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Senior

Even though it's about 150 years old, "The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table" is sublime, poetic, dense (in a good way), simple, wisely argumentative, polite (yet far from condescending), self-and-others-aware, multi-layered and deserving of far more appreciative adjectives than I am listing here.

I have read more satisfyingly, in one choice paragraph of his (and there are many), than I have read in the unsatisfying sum totality of all the pages of some current books, articles, blogs, posts and related empty verbiage that passes for essaying these days.

As far as essaying goes, he's got it.
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Re: Great Essayists

Postby jimipresley » 14 Jul 2011, 01:16

Although I agree with virtually nothing that he says, I quite enjoy reading Bertrand Russel's essays.
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Re: Great Essayists

Postby tash » 14 Jul 2011, 02:57

Jaboney wrote:Zizek - when I'm in the mood for off the wall weird cultural theory

I found a lot of good suggestions in this thread from everyone and was going to read one essay by each author mentioned. But then I picked Žižek first (thanks to your comment "off the wall weird") and now I'm hooked. I don't think I'll get to anyone else any time soon :)

This is not anything original by him, but I found an interview where he retells an old ex-Yu joke. Background: Montenegrins are considered the laziest of all Yugoslavs. And they embrace it :)

Alluding to the surrealist thinker Georges Bataille, Mr. Zizek denounced "the hidden economy of 'I am lazy a little bit so that I will work better.'" Instead, he offered the example of residents of Montenegro, an earthquake-prone area of the former Yugoslavia. The local ethnic stereotype is that inhabitants of the region are utterly shiftless.
"The zero-level standard joke about laziness is how a Montenegro guy masturbates," he said. "He digs a hole in the earth, puts his penis in, and waits for the earthquake." The pleasure that Montenegrins take in telling the joke seems to Mr. Zizek to be the correct attitude toward both laziness and political incorrectness. "Instead of being afraid of this attitude," he said, "you freely, in a gesture of Bataillean autonomy and sovereignty, assume" the quality attributed to you.
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Re: Great Essayists

Postby Gao Bohan » 14 Jul 2011, 03:57

almas john wrote:
yuli wrote:Susan Sontag

A nasty - perhaps evil - woman and a crap writer. What a strange choice!!! With your two-word post you have told us so very much about yourself.


Sontag is the idiot who wrote, "The white race is the cancer of human history." Yeah, great choice. :roll:
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