As part of our Creative BLOCK / COVID 19 schedule, in each Creative BLOCK edition we are featuring books recommended by our staff.
John Phillips’ choice:-
The Woman Who Discovered Printing
T H Barrett, Yale University Press, 2008
You won’t have wanted to have gotten onto the wrong side of Wu Zetian. She chopped her female rivals into small pieces and cast them into the Yellow River. But to give her due credit, she most probably invented printing seven hundred years before Guttenberg began casting type.
Chinese Empress Wu (625 –n705 AD) was a Buddhist, and the first ruler to employ print as a weapon against her political and religious enemies. Alas, she lost, and her legacy, besmirched and overlooked by her deposers, was (almost) lost. T H Barrett’s well researched biography pieces together this intriguing tale from the very origins of print.
Naima Hosni’s choice:-
The Scent of Time: A Philosophical Essay on the Art of Lingering
Byung-Chul Han, 2017, Polity Press and Kindle
In his philosophical reflections on the art of lingering, acclaimed cultural theorist Byung-Chul Han argues that the value we attach today to the vita activa is producing a crisis in our sense of time. Our attachment to the vita activa creates an imperative to work which degrades the human being into a labouring animal, an animal laborans. At the same time, the hyperactivity which characterizes our daily routines robs human beings of the capacity to linger and the faculty of contemplation. It therefore becomes impossible to experience time as fulfilling. What distinguishes humans from other animals is the capacity for reflection and contemplation. Byung-Chul Han's meditation on time will interest a wide readership in cultural theory, philosophy and beyond.
Jane Goodsir’s choice
Maggie Nelson, 2015, Graywolf Press
Part memoir and part literary analysis “The Argonauts” is the story of Nelson’s love for Harry Dodge, a sculptor, writer, and video artist who is fluidly gendered. I’m looking forward to reading Nelson, who has become a hugely influential cultural commentator, with this book now achieving cult status.