For Beginners and Introducing Books

Well, sorry to anybody who may have gotten interested in the first few posts of this blog only to be let down by a week of no-show. Life happens when you’re not paying attention and I shall leave it at that.

Anyway, one of the reasons for my absence from blog land is that I’ve become just a wee bit consumed by my journeys through philosophy specifically existentialism and phenomenology, as well as my daily servings of Baudrillard, Foucault, and Derrida, not to mention studying up on chess openings… Fuck, my head is already hurting again. So, since I’ve been hitting the books harder than I’ve ever hit them before, I decided to lighten up the intellectual load a bit and pick up a few copies of the “Introducing” and “For Beginners” books. For those individuals not familiar with these little morsels, they are graphic novel style (but not necessarily considered graphic novels) books which attempt to offer visual and simplified interpretations of various complex subject matter from intellectual figures, historical periods, hard scientific theory, mathematics, social sciences, art, and any other kind of info which is not easy to digest for “regular people”.  

Although different publishing companies put these things out, the general idea is pretty much the same for these two series.  There are quite a few of them, so I can’t claim to have made any concrete comparisons between which series might be better, but I can safely say that they’re generally of good quality.  There some exceptionally biased and incorrect ones in my opinion.  Socialism for Beginners seems to caught up in some sort of First World Feminist / Trotskyite polemic rather than a description of the political economic theory and Black History for Beginners is less focused of the revolutionary or more radical aspects of Africana studies and is more interested in the Civil Rights movement.  I’m open to discussion on what exactly I’m critical about, but for now I couldn’t in good conscience recommend either of these two books to people interested in getting familiar with these subjects.

Introducing Postmodernism helped get me started on the right foot to grasping this seething mass of intellectual fu-fu.  I was able to pick and choose from a number of subjects which I could gain some general ideas on and later expand upon them when I delved into the original work.  This made Baudrillard much easier to stomach. 

One of the books “For Beginners” isn’t actually part of the aforementioned series by the same name, yet was extremely helpful for me in learning to understand Karl Marx.  It offered a very good analysis of the intellectual trajectory which influenced Marx’s analysis of political economy and the development of dialectical materialism, mentioning the many different individual thinkers as well as intellectual trends.

And looky what we have here. You didn’t think I was going to post and miss an opportunity to mention Barack Obama AGAIN? I am THOROUGHLY curious about what’s contained in this book. Has anyone had the chance to check it out?

Some final notes… as I continue on this path towards a career in academia, I just want to point out the possibilities of using some of the images and pedagogical devices in these books for assisting students in grasping some very heavy material. Besides helping to introduce my brain to these complex ideas as well as introducing these ideas to the brains of others, they also serve as warm-ups and refreshers for subjects which I’m quite comfortable with. I still read Marx for Beginners from time to time, to add some images to the abstractions in Marxist theory.

Go and pick one of these out and give your brain a little break. (Of course please don’t get lazy and refrain from reading the actual works. These beginner books don’t always get it right.)

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2 Responses to “For Beginners and Introducing Books”

  1. I’d definetly be using some of these books for my future students at (CCSF, Skyline, whatev) for my economics and/or theology classes. I’m constantly having thoughts swirling around my head of infusing cultural sociology/critical anthropology with moderate level econ courses (not Macro 101 per se but like a Macro 200 or a Econ Theory class).

    Mass line, visualization, postmodernism-ish type o’ stuff.

  2. […] For Beginners and Introducing Books « The 50 Megaton Paper Tiger "Introducing Postmodernism helped get me started on the right foot to grasping this seething mass of intellectual fu-fu. I was able to pick and choose from a number of subjects which I could gain some general ideas on and later expand upon them when I delved into the original work. This made Baudrillard much easier to stomach." (tags: blog northamerica postmodernism literature) […]

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