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Anthropology

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A Sociology of Texas

Texas looms large in the story that America tells about itself, and this has given rise to a subgenre where male writers from Texas (usually of European ancestry) seek to understand better, apologize for, and thoroughly explain to their readers the conditions of the author’s home state. Though Lawrence Wright’s ‘God Save Texas: A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State’ (Knopf, 2018) nominally falls into this subgenre, it manages to overcome the constraints that some with it, or so BRB reviewer Christopher Landrum argues. While much of the book examines how Texas’s economy, population, and political influence over the rest of the nation have expanded since about 1978, Wright is ambivalent, and more than a little impatient, with the continued “immature political culture” of Texas — a culture that, as the current occupants of the White House demonstrates, has long rubbed off on the rest of the country. All in all, the book, in spite of some glaring omissions, provides a readable and informative for Texas and non-Texas alike to gain a new perspective on the ‘lone star state’.

Rage, Time, and the Politico-Religious Revenge Banks

In his recent book ‘Rage and Time’ (originally published as ‘Zorn und Zeit’ in 2006), Peter Sloterdijk, best-known to the English-speaking world for his ‘Critique of Cynical Reason’, published in the 1980s, tells a compelling story of the mediations, exploitations, and translations of rage through, and into, the great religious and political ‘cosmologies’ of Western civilisation. ‘Rage and Time’, according to reviewer Francisco Klauser, is a powerfully written book about the sociopolitical ordering, coding, and accumulation of rage; a book which, in sum, acknowledges and investigates the role of rage as one of the driving forces of human history. However, while Sloterdijk’s narrative is rich in suggestive power, his analysis of the upcoming sociopolitical challenges in the 21st century remains essentially incomplete — the future of rage has yet to unfold.

Of Pencils and Pixels

Sonja Neef’s ‘Abdruck und Spur’ (‘Imprint and Trace’, 2008) offers a sweeping re-evaluation of the relationship of handwriting and technology. While the historical part of the book may be overambitious, insofar as it discusses even the evolutionary origins of handedness, reviewer Frank Berzbach applauds Neef for successfully defending her claim that ‘there is no final dichotomy between, on the one hand, printing as a mechanical, technical, or digital way of writing and, on the other hand, handwriting as an individual, unique, and singular trace’; instead, the two have been historically and systematically intertwined, and the Manual continues to survive in the Digital.