Bob, thanks for posting the reviews to the list.
On 11/12/2013 8:12 PM, Bob Dobbs wrote:
> 1. THE BIRTH OF MODERNISM
> Dark Horse Retrieved in Our Time
> In an era when young people inevitably acquire a familiarity with conspiracy
> theory because it is a popular topic on the Web,
> Prof. Surette's 20-year old research into the history of "conspiracy memes"
> is invaluable for university curricula today - perhaps even for seniors in
> high school.
> And his book is especially important because he shows the encyclopedic
> posture in modernism - the interplay between high brow and low brow, the
> pedestrian and the esoteric. Once this avant-garde non-univocal technique is
> grasped by the student of Pound, Eliot, Yeats - and I would add Joyce and
> Lewis - then "elitist" literature opens up, reveals new vistas, and exposes
> the fallacy of the hardening of the categories modern and postmodern
> criticism wallowed in.
> Surette's work may have been ignored these past two decades but luckily he
> was just ahead of his time. Let's not hold it against him.
> 2. DREAMS OF A TOTALITARIAN UTOPIA
> Dark Horse is Really the Linnaeus of Modernist Scholars
> Prof. Surette continues his talent for providing useful overviews for the
> student and connoisseur of an increasingly remote modernist literature.
> Surette is so clear-headed in his approach to Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis, and
> T. S. Eliot that one could be forgiven for wondering why one should read
> such muddle-headed idiots as these three. What Marshall McLuhan once said
> (albeit in a movie) applies to these three "antennae": "How you ever got to
> teach a course in anything is totally amazing!"
> But Surette is also fair-headed and does his best in balancing off our
> disgust by actually showing how the three Magi fared quite prophetic for
> their respective constituencies when one considers how confused Western
> society became under the onslaught of the techno-storm of the Thirties.
> Surprisingly, Lewis becomes the most relevant for the drifting global
> citizen today with his political maxim:
> "Now disregarding if you can whatever your political views may be (and mine
> are partly communist and partly fascist, with a distinct streak of
> monarchism in my marxism, but at bottom anarchist with a healthy passion for
> order)... " - Wyndham Lewis, THE ENEMY, Vol.3, p.70, 1929
> There's not an informed person who couldn't use the above quotation as an
> all-purpose alibi for the cross-pressures rampant today in our ridiculously
> complex habitat.
> Above all, this new work proves Surette is an expert at evoking new
> questions about old answers to the mystery of the creative process. He
> actually aids us in marvelling anew at how art becomes charismatic.
> 3. ART IN THE AGE OF THE MACHINE
> They Used to be Giants
> The subtitle of Leon Surette's third entry into what has turned into a
> trilogy should be: They Used to Be Giants.
> "Art in the Age of the Machine" is a prodigious inventory of all the
> thinkers, scientists, philosophers, and artists who once made an impact and
> drew attention to themselves as they wrestled with the unpredictable
> juggernaut of human creativity in the industrial phase of cultural (d)evolution.
> Again, I can't stress more that, like his previous two works, Surette proves
> once again to be a real live Noah who preserves the 200-year old history of
> arguments and varieties of response to technoculture in order to inspire a
> general perspective that none of our present institutions of learning have a
> clue as to how to engender.
> Young minds require this book. It should be mandatory reading in all
> locations of higher education. Since the present fashion is to reject the
> Western Canon, then we should experience and understand ONE MORE TIME (or
> perhaps, for the first time) what we are increasingly amnesiac concerning
> what is the UR question: "When is a human not a human?"
> Surette's mosaic is to be recommended just for the sheer audacity of his
> choices. Any work that includes the thinker a recent BBC TV broadcast
> declared "one of the most poisonous minds of the 20th century" - Wyndham
> Lewis - has the edginess that will attract the natural curiosity of coming
> generations who always can sniff out where the crux of the biscuit is.
> Bob Dobbs