Posts from Pumpjack Press authors and contributors about culture, books, economic and social justice topics, history and more, with the occasional poem and short story.

An evolutionist in action 

Sometimes, you get lucky and find an author that just nails it for you. The writing of Percival Everett in So Much Blue besotted me—and the story it told too, of course. And then I read Erasure, and it blew me away. I’ll return to describing my reaction to these novels, but first, permit a brief digression into how I discovered Everett. 

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Where have all the radicals gone?

I sometimes imagine a long-ago unicorn moment when a path appeared that, had it been taken, may have dramatically altered the lives of America’s working class, or what we now call the 99 percent. In the mid- to late-part of the 20th century, the labor, civil rights, environmental and feminist movements were at an apogee, an emerging counterweight to the wealth extraction and concentration grinder of capitalism. Looking back, the potential was breathtaking. And then it all fell apart.

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Cutting to the chase: human consciousness in three books

I've noted an uptick of blog posts and references to “cosmic consciousness,” a state-of-being named by Richard Bucke in 1901. I read Bucke’s book Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind more than a decade ago after I stumbled upon it in a footnote of some other equally dusty and neglected book. What's behind the Bucke blip?

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Where is the abstract painting trend in fiction?

This trajectory of the visual arts mirrors (or perhaps was at the leading edge) a centuries-long philosophical evolution about human’s relationships to authority, the concept of individuality, the discovery of atoms, and shifting ideas about the human mind (from the Cartesian spark of God duality through Freud all the way to the mind-is-body model emerging from neuroscience). Why does the novel’s form remain stubbornly fixed despite these parallel cultural, scientific, and artistic changes? Where is the equivalent of the abstract painting in fiction? And what are the implications of its absence?

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