Thursday, April 02, 2015

Naturalist Poetry: Defining Our Lives— Permanent Work: Poems 1981-1992. A San Diego State University Press (SDSU Press) Literature Release

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Permanent Work: Poems1981-1992 by Gabriel Trujillo Muñoz details how inspiration can be found in all things, no matter how small, nor how much something is taken for granted that when taken apart it becomes more beautiful. Whether to observe the actions of humans or the nature that they are surrounded by; Muñoz paints us a vivid picture with carefully chosen words to give a new perspective of the world.

Time is something that affects all living creatures, slowly chipping away at life, incidentally, however, this decay adds to the beauty of creation. With new life comes death, followed by decay, loss, and loneliness. Muñoz shares these emotions with so few of words, painstaking, carefully, perfectly chosen without muddling the overall ideology or naturalistic tendencies of the work.  "The world/ Offers itself/ And reverberates/ My eyes/ Perceive/ The clarity of each object" (Dawn, 11).His work transcends a sense of surrealism, this helps Muñoz grasp the details of the surroundings, taking them apart, bit by bit, and in doing so, he exemplifies its beauty.

Life is intertwined and tangled with so many constraints, "The chaos/ To which all living beings/ Belong" (49) we all affect one another, and influence our surroundings without a conscious effort. Simply living is enough create, destroy, and stagnate. "Who am I/ To die now/ To live now/ That everything is over" (12). A progression of human life can be summarized in so few of words with such accuracy, how difficult it can be to continue to go on as strongly as before with the same positive mindset. 

Muñoz shows us how our lives are our own to create and lead them through our choices, "I am the alchemist who transforms/ The basest metals into glowing gold" (41). Only with our own hands can we choose worth of our existence. Only the owner of their own life can weigh their worth. 

To read more of PermanentWork: Poems 1981-1992 follow the link to purchase.

Read the latest San Diego State University Press Blog release here.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

The Art of Identity: Goat Tails and Doodlebugs by Everett Gee Jackson. A San Diego State University Press (SDSU Press) Release

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Goat Tails and Doodlebugs is a classic tale of finding their roots. With all great artists comes a great beginning, Everett Jackson is no exception. He writes of his trials through childhood, which demonstrates his upbringing in search of his identity. Going as far as undecided gender and race, He slowly begins to gain an idea of who he is through his travels in Texas, Southern California, Northern Mexico, and South America. His book reads like a diary, detailing his experiences in border towns, daily life on the road with his partners, and the story of finding himself though art. With many trips to Mexico and South America, Jackson, is exposed to both the natural beauty of the countries as well as the hearts of the people that surround him. The landscape, culture, and its people become a major inspiration towards Jackson's artwork. 

Jackson's tale shows the growth of an artist through finding his roots and coming in touch with those around him. Through his experience he changed as an artist, find out more about Jackson and his works of art by following this link to purchase

Get the most up to date San Diego State University Press Blog by clicking here.

Also take a look at Jackson's Four Trips to Antiquity featured here

Disappearing Individualism and Cultural Identity: Four Trips to Antiquity by Everett Gee Jackson. A San Diego State University Press (SDSU Press) Release

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Four Trips to Antiquity

The absorption of an original culture slowly dwindling down and disappearing much like the Mayan's last remaining artifacts slowly crumble and fade away with time. By pollution, weather, tourists, or the passing by drunk each takes a toll on what is left of the artifacts. Remaining cultures are destroyed much in the same way from being absorbed, wiped out or becoming influenced by western influence. Eventually the only proof of their existence will be the words upon a textbook page. 

Within Four Trips Jackson describes the heritage and peoples of the South American Indians and the problems they face, from explosions in the cities to how easily they are swayed based on empty promises from politicians. "Look at your feet. Why are you not wearing shoes? Other people wear shoes, but not you Indians...I looked down at my own feet. Neither was I wearing shoes I discarded them when I arrived in Copan and had put on guaraches instead, the kind of sandals worn by the Indians...making the Indians dissatisfied with their lot might assure him their favor and their vote" (64). Stores also begin to take advantage of the Indians by capitalizing off them who without care contribute to the pollution of the area, "But they left the plaza littered with empty Dr. Pepper bottles. Obviously the store which sold the drink knew in advance that the Dr. Pepper-drinking Indians were coming"(64). This results in further destruction of cultural identity

"[It] was a great misfortune one moonlit night when a drunk came walking along here he suddenly had a violent impulse. To relieve his anger he hurled a big rock, or perhaps an empty bottle, into the figures face...It had withstood many storms for over thirteen hundred years, and then a worthless drunk had to disfigure its face" (165). Much like the drunk, it does not take much to destroy a civilization that survived for so long on its own. Whether its disease, xenophobia, or war once civilizations are wiped out they cannot be brought back much like these statues. 

A Current example of this is the indigenous people of Hokkaido, Northern Japan. The Ainu people were seen as a pest after mainland Japan acquired Hokkaido around the early 1800's. They were introduced to new diseases and used in forced manual labor where many died. They were never seen as Japanese nor have they been even now. In 1984 the Ainu census was shown that there were 24,381 left in Hokkaido, which is slowly growing after their numbers fell as low as 15,969 in 1931. If they had not fought back so hard, it would have been the last of them just as it has been for many tribes and indigenous people. 

If effort is not made to conserve our ancient cultures, they will be nothing more than crumbling stone, and words they grace the pages of forgotten textbooks. We can only hope that the pieces will live on in his artwork his own form of conservation.  

Take a trip to antiquity by purchasing the book here.

Get the most up to date San Diego State University Press Blog by clicking here.

Also take a look at Jackson's other book Goat Tails and Doodlebugs, blogged about here

Feminism & Border Issues-- Theatrics or Reality?: In this Corner, Short Plays by Rosina Conde, Ignacio Flores De La Lama, Juan Rea, and Hugo Salcedo. A San Diego State University Press Release (SDSU Press)

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Shattered relationships and broken hearts are forced into the boxing ring, spouses become opponents pinned against one another, within their cage called marriage they must accept their differences and reconcile, bitterly part ways, or stay trapped in the hell that they have ensnared themselves in. 

"In this Corner," consists of four short plays by Rosina Conde, Ignacio Flores De La Lama, Juan Rea, and Hugo Salcedo. The plays illustrate gender roles and feminism in marriage, breaking stereotypes, and conforming to society's vision of what marriage "must" be. 

While dating there is a  fight to keep the other within grasp, mutterings of sweet nothings defiling the air from the sordid serpents tongue. Money, lingers like dollar signs in the eyes for prestige is everything. Even pity and is used to trap one another's heart like the slow strangulation of wedding bells chimes. 

Gender roles are brought up to the forefront of the arguments in all three plays, each demonstrating its impact on a marriage. "But you shouldn't have left. You should have stayed with me even though I said not to, because your duty was to follow me even if I rejected you. (With scorn.) That is the duty of all women, to follow their men" (48). Marriage is often viewed as a one-sided fight for control, with the ideology that one spouse must lead the other. "HE: Yes. SHE: "Yes." Is that all you can say? HE: (After a pause.) Yes. SHE: Idiot" (11). Women fight back in these plays to demonstrate that they can lead the relationship.

Marriage, in these plays, demonstrates emotions that can arise after the vows have been taken. Jealousy, selfishness, oppression, coupled with the lies and deceit that accompany them. 

These four plays are a modern day Ibsen's version of "The Doll House," which gives the reader a modernly founded basis on the gender roles in marriage and relationships. When comparing back to Ibsen (and many others) we can see that even over hundreds of years that the gloves are still on in this telling book about the roles of marriage. 

Taking place in Tijuana, these boarder town casted plays can represent a modern take on US/Mexico Boarder issues. Who will dominate whom? Who has the "right" to lead or be led? Indulge in these multi-perspective plays. Leave us your comment below!

Order your copy by following this link, and read the most up to date blogs of San Diego State Press here.

Also of interest

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Conspiracy Theory in Criticism: The Technique and Practice of Psychoanalysis 5 by Robert Greenson— San Diego State University Press (SDSU Press)

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She was found stripped with no sheets and barely alive. Strangely enough, there was nothing she could have swallowed, no pills with water or alcohol to suspect an overdose. It is speculated that when she was found she was barely alive, her doctor, Ralph Greenson, made sure that she was quiet before her story was known according to conspiracy theorists.

Ralph Greenson, the psychoanalysis, or the accomplice in Marilyn Monroe's death. Her trusted psychologist whom she may have had affairs with, administered the drugs to silence her. The secrets she held were too great for anyone's safety, with threats of exposing Kennedy family for who they really were.

The Murder of Marilyn Monroe: Case Closed written by Jay Margolis, an investigative reporter and Richard Buskin a NY Times bestseller of 30 books. Creates a clearer image of what happened on her death August 5 1962 and what led up to it. 

With photos as well as interviews, they have been able to create a more concrete image of what happened and who was involved. She is said to have called the White House continually in order to get the President, Robert Kennedy's, attention. He finally concedes and visits her soon being seduced by her she ends up having affairs with both of the Kennedy brothers. Little by little, she began to write down the happenings and secrets held by the Kennedy's in a little red diary finally saying she would release it to the press if Robert Kennedy did not divorce his wife and marry her instead, making her the first lady.

Robert told Greenson that she was going to ruin him as well, despite her never saying so, he wanted to protect himself as well. She had been seeing him for anxiety and depression before it had turned into something else entirely. On the night of her death he was responsible for driving a needle of Pentobarital straight into her heart after a large dose of barbiturates in the form of an enema.

Explore the dialogue of his text, The Technique and Practice of Psychoanalysis 5, and see what conclusion you can infer from Monroe's death. Murderer, or famed psychoanalysis— you decide after reading the book.  

Deconstruction of the Psychoanalytical: The Technique and Practice of Psychoanalysis 4 by Ralph Greenson— A Psychologically Enlightening Journey of Criticism from The San Diego State University Press, SDSU Press

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Ralph Greenson in his book The Technique and Practice of Psychoanalysis 4, gives us a new perspective of the currently existing practices of psychoanalysis, where the classification and treatment of the patient breaks away from the traditional, classical mold created by the masters of psychology. 

This interview helps current psychologists and students of psychology to troubleshoot and aid certain patients who may not fit into a textbook category. Greenson takes his interviewer through the steps of treating patients in a calmer more conclusive manner, allowing for a more positive result with each session.

He shows us how certain speech patterns as well as choices of words can alter the patient's opinion of the psychologist. As a result, the patient becomes easier to treat as they open themselves up to further "investigation" by the psychoanalyst.

His book has made a systematic process for both students and practicing psychologists to follow in order to guide the patient towards treatment. Helping to avoid possible problems during sessions and confronting problems that arise. Freud plays a large part in Greenson's ideas and practices, breaking apart the id, ego, and super ego. Taking care to analyze all three during each evaluation to make sure the best course of treatment is taken to address the patient's problems. 

The DSM5 published in 2013 has new mental disorders showing that psychology is evolving and changing the fundamentals of treatment, mental disorders, and highlighting that classical evaluation does not always work.

To consider further exploration of Ralph Greenson's idea and psychoanalytical approaches to treatment and case studies follow this link to find his book.

In a follow up article, we will explore controversial theories about Greenson and his possible involvement in a relationship with Monroe, the Kennedy's love affair, and the possible murder of Monroe. Click here for the follow up article on conspiracy theory and Monroe! 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

At War with Perception: War Books by Jean Norton Cru— A Study in Historical Criticism by San Diego State University Press (SDSU Press)

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Who is to tell what is behind the eyes of a solider? The horrors, terrors and nightmares that they are faced with and merely told to endure. The fear of death so heavily etched into their minds despite all forms of rationality and perseverance— they are forced to continue onward. Stories that are rarely told from those who carry the rifle. Officers were given details of the battlefield and the wars were recorded without the officer ever leaving their desk. Inaccurate accounts from some were given to help bolster the “valiant and heroic” war efforts, disguising the bloodbaths that they really were.

Blinded by the glory, shinning medals of recognition and the seeming honor that comes with the title, many have jumped headfirst into the battlefield without truly knowing its dangers. Society has glorified this battlefield without a second thought for the soldier. While medals can be displayed equal to injuries, non-visible injuries of physiological damage is something that is often brushed aside and ignored. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has plagued and haunted these men and women returning from battle. Some look at these returning soldiers without regard to their emotional distress. 

 It is the personal accounts of soldiers that alter our perception of wars history. These ideas transform from dates, strategies, and victories to become emotions of pain and suffering. The observation of war alters itself once we are able to change our perception to the individuals that endure it. The soldiers in War Books become more than a number, a statistic, and tool for political purposes. In Jean Cru’s book, we learn the real side of the soldier and are better able to grasp the reality that for so long has been shoved aside by opposition. 

Songwriter Serj Tankian from the popular alternative metal band System of a Down has written multitude of songs, which look at the Solider's Side. Like the book, he too, tries to grasp the reality of what war is to the soldier and the ones waiting at home.

To read more and buy the book click this link. 

Make sure to check out the rest of the San Diego State Universities Press releases by clicking here.

Searching for Identity in the Metropolis: Representations of Fashion by Antonio Rafele— An Obiter Dictum of Social Commentary by San Diego State University Press (SDSU Press)

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Identity has become obscured as cultures are formed, or rather fashioned, into a state of development. They restrain, trap, strangle, and stifle the individuals within the confinements of these metropolises. The trapped individuals form social groups, cliques, parties and eventually the lines between them bleed together until there is not an identity left. They scream wanting out, a need for individuality, a want to be different, the need for an identity. Each person walks with his or her canvas— blank in hopes of inspiration from another passerby. They dream of captivating senses if only for a momentary millisecond.

The past has become a mere stepping-stone for fashion, becoming nothing more than an endless sequence, unable to offer new life sustaining individuality. Already existing elements, such as mass media, television, and an industrialized society become a distraction for the passage of time. Even the ticking clock has to evolve and mend its ways in the metropolis. Individuals become a part of the matroyoshka (a doll inside a doll) where each life mimics the other, each person looking towards someone else for the simplest change that will upset their daily lives, that will give their lives thought, purpose and meaning.

In the essay Representationsof Fashion by Antonio Rafele we get a sense of just what is happening in our city glorified culture of today. The eyes of the individual are glued to the screen to see the next big thing, the next motion that could give meaning in an otherwise monotonous life. The fashions of an individual are nothing more than the clothes our society makes us wear.

"The metropolis and photography, television and the web transform existence into a succession of isolated and disconnected moments, of worlds, once experienced, remain fragile and provisional" (23)

In modern society, we would call them fads, the clothes and attitudes that accompany a popular trend only to quickly fade before it is fully realized. Sociological fads as portrayed by Lady Gaga, writers like FlannO’Brien or Haruki Murakami, were we have seen these struggles for individuality lead to new conventional thought and theory which others quickly adapt to. Society has become a blank book where the first one with a pen of creativity wins. Rafele describes these incidents and describes where we might just be heading.  To find out more about Representations of Fashion follow this link and make sure to check out the rest of the San Diego State University Press releases by clicking here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Avant Pop Manifesto: In Memoriam to Postmodernism by Mark Amerika & Lance Olsen— Critical Essays from San Diego State University Press (SDSU Press)

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Welcome to the age of technology where one should expect new forms of art to spring alive from the electric wiring. We are in the new age where both entertainment and daily life circulate around digital information. On a daily basis our brains are processing images and data from the internet, mass media, video games, movies, and everything else that our modern society has created. Due to such stimuli our society has evolved both in its art and outlook.

“Now that Postmodernism is dead and we’re in the process of finally burying it, something else is starting to take hold in the cultural imagination and I propose that we call this new phenomenon Avant-Pop” —The Avant-Pop Manifesto by Mark Amerika

The creation of Avant-Pop is proof that times are changing, and with it art. Focusing on what can be created with the new inspirations of today. What exists (mass media, internet) now and has never been able to be an influence to artists until now.

As Mark Amerika asks in his manifesto, “[w]ho are we sharing the cultural toilet with” and “what are we filling it with?” What are individuals and artists alike contributing to our society. The trash of the past is discarded and in its stead it’s filled with the movements of our generation, only to repeat the cycle with each new generation.  

To learn more of the Avant-Pop phenomenon taking hold in our modern age check out In Memoriam to Postmodernism.

One rather new avant garde expression, or as Mark would say avant pop, is the music called dubstep. Sounds taken from a wide variety of sources, mixed and reproduced to create new sounds.

Check out the video Is Dubstep Avant Garde Musical Genius on Youtube for a short 6min lecture for more.

Marc García-Martínez: An Interview with the Author of SDSU Press's new volume: The Flesh-and-Blood Aesthetics of Alejandro Morales: Sex, Disease, and Figuration

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Click to enlarge.
Our SDSU Press intern (and President of SDSU MECHA) Christian Benavides, conducted this interview with Dr. Marc García-Martínez, author of The Flesh-and-Blood Aesthetics of Alejandro Morales: Sex, Disease, and Figuration, 2014, SDSU Press.

What drove you to Alejandro Morales’ work? 

Truth be told, I was driven to Alejandro Morales’ artwork the way many, many individuals in academia are: By my professor in a graduate seminar who assigned us to read him! You know, some individuals are driven by an author’s media popularity, some by a book cover design, or others by a relative’s or friend’s recommendation. But I was honestly driven to Morales without choice by my professor at UCSB, Carl Gutiérrez-Jones. Morales was on the required reading list in an exciting new graduate seminar Carl designed entitled “The New West.” Up to that point I casually heard of Alejandro Morales, of course, but had not personally or professionally encountered any of his literary art. So, I can express to you with propriety that my book was started way back in a small, pallid graduate seminar room—a very cool thing, actually, since it proves what can happen when a graduate seminar doesn’t theorize, pontificate, assume, or assign presentations…but inspires and teaches.

Is there a specific way you’d say he influenced Chican@ literature? 

Well, however one wishes to define it, Chicana/o literature as a whole has perhaps not been so much actively or directly “influenced” by Alejandro Morales, as it certainly has been enhanced and intensified by him—particularly intensified. When one increases that intensity of something, in this case with art, they increase scope, emotion, force, as well as effect, right? So as Morales’ writings range from exposé to historiography, from myth to testimony, from saga to romance, from profane to decorous, and from Spanish to English languages (and back again), one could argue that through his art he has single-handedly made the Chicana/o literary realm a hell of a lot larger or more wonderfully extensive. Speaking as a Chicano, if I were a serious creative writer of novels, I would find Morales’ writings as guiding inspiration, or influential example, of what is artistically possible in contemporary American ethnic literature.

What initially got you interested into Morales' representations of the body and his "flesh-and-blood aesthetics"? 

When something is constantly in your face, when something is a consistent visible force, when something keeps arising to the same degree and content while shifting its form, it is hard not to become attentive to and eventually fascinated with that something. That “something” in Alejandro Morales’ case is the flesh-and-blood bodily figurations operating everywhere in his literary work—the interest of which initially began with my reading of The Rag Doll Plagues in the aforementioned graduate seminar. In it are amazing moments of bodily penetrations of all sorts, of bodily transgressions of various kinds, bodily destructions of such savage and slight means, as well as suggestive and profane bodily eroticism. And all the while, surrounding these moments in the novel, are seminal, salivary, fecal, urinary, and bloody fluids that actually became a bit seductive to me. I read on and read more, and found myself virtually searching for them and mapping them out. This developed into a bona fide interest, and I so wanted to see if it existed in Morales’ other novels…which it did.

In your introduction, I like that you mention how the worlds in Morales' novels "reflect the fleshy, fragile, and frightening aspects of our being". Can you briefly summarize a way/ways in which this becomes a powerful exploration and tool for Morales' storytelling.     

Well, we are—and always shall be—creatures of physical, spiritual, emotional and psychological being. We are human beings, and as such we are mortal, corporal, breakable in both body and soul, and capable of such high and startling degrees of real or imagined fears. If Morales’ novels indeed reflect this—and they most certainly do—then focusing on this is, in effect, a tool to remind us that his artwork is primarily about our human condition. It is in many ways work that ultimately surpasses ancestral traditions, tribal mentalities, or any explicit cultural ethnologies. In other words, its thematics are focused well on the fierce and beautiful range of American ethnic experience, no doubt, yet its broader ultimate thematics always take readers squarely to a human place—a place extra-ethnic, existing beyond race. Morales takes us readers to a place that all readers—younger and older, male and female, casual or professional, Chicana/o or gabacha/o, etc.—will find clear and compelling testaments to their aforementioned mortality, fragility, and high proclivity for fear, violence, and self-doubt. This is not to assert that his works are only dark, as they are also affirming, and affirm the not-so-dark human truths of survival, family, love, courage, tradition, loyalty, just to name a few. But to fully and honestly explore Alejandro Morales’ literature, one cannot forsake that physical, psychological and emotional human figurations operating at its core.

Order your copy of this fine new volume from SDSU Press today: The Flesh-and-Blood Aesthetics of Alejandro Morales: Sex, Disease, and Figuration