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View Diary: Books That Changed My Life: "Howl" by Allen Ginsberg (149 comments)

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  •  Fine diary (9+ / 0-)

    Glad I dropped by.

    Every once in a while, I pull off the bookshelf an odd little book by Louis Hyde, called The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property.  The first half of this book is a high-wire act of synthesis on ideas on reciprocity and gift exchange.  The second half is a reading of Walt Whitman and Ezra Pound.

    There is a lovely section in which Alan Ginsberg meets with Ezra Pound at the end of his life, in Italy, and there is a moment of reconciliation between the dying man who bought into fascism and all the horror that resulted, and a gay Jewish beat poet.  It's a magical couple pages.

    Anyway, The Gift is the single best book I’ve ever read on art and creativity, and one of the few that I still regularly pull off the bookshelf nearly 30 years after being an art student. I can’t do justice to a description, so let me excerpt from a NYT Magazine article of a few years ago:

    “The Gift,” the core argument of which depends on establishing an analogy between the making of art and how objects accrue value in traditional “gift economies,” has been praised as the most subtle, influential study of reciprocity since the French anthropologist Marcel Mauss’s 1924 essay of the same name… Hyde’s admirers often point out with awe (and his reviewers with frustration) that his books are all but impossible to summarize… His books exhibit this lively heterogeneity to an at-times dizzying extent; in the course of 12 pages in “The Gift,” Hyde hops from a discussion of a Pali Buddhist parable to Marx’s “Capital” to the Ford Pinto and then moves quickly on, in the next 3 pages, to Christmas, country-western music and the psychological fates of Vietnamese refugees in Southern California.

    I will go out and get a copy of Howl.  If you have a taste for Ginsberg, Whitman, the Cantos of Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, etc... then get a copy of The Gift on some used book site and I suspect you will enjoy it.  

    “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

    by ivorybill on Fri Feb 03, 2012 at 12:16:10 PM PST

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