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Arbie's Unoriginally Titled Book Blog

It's a blog! Mainly of book reviews.

Currently reading

Ack-Ack Macaque
Gareth L. Powell
Progress: 249/792 pages
Introduction to Topology
Bert Mendelson
Progress: 10/224 pages
Isaac Newton
James Gleick
Progress: 20/289 pages
Basics of Plasma Astrophysics
Claudio Chiuderi, Marco Velli
Progress: 58/250 pages
Ursula K. Le Guin: The Complete Orsinia: Malafrena / Stories and Songs (The Library of America)
Brian Attebery, Ursula K. Le Guin
Progress: 454/700 pages
A Student's Guide to Lagrangians and Hamiltonians
Patrick Hamill
Progress: 7/180 pages
Complete Poems, 1904-1962
E.E. Cummings
Progress: 232/1102 pages
The Complete Plays and Poems
E.D. Pendry, J.C. Maxwell, Christopher Marlowe
Gravitation (Physics Series)
Kip Thorne;Kip S. Thorne;Charles W. Misner;John Archibald Wheeler;John Wheeler
Progress: 48/1215 pages
I Am a Cat
Graeme Wilson, Aiko Ito, Sōseki Natsume
Progress: 410/638 pages

Reading progress update: I've read 46 out of 320 pages.

Masters of Deception: Escher, Dalí & the Artists of Optical Illusion - Al Seckel, Douglas R. Hofstadter

Giuseppe Arcimboldo: Technically superb and apparently very popular during his lifetime but very little of his work survived to the present. An obvious influence on Dali, along with Heironymous Bosch. Made paintings where assemblages of objects or animals form human portraits. He's not my cup of tea, nor why I bought the book, but he does set some sort of historical context for the 20th Century and contemporary art that follows. That said, according to the introduction it's a very limited context in that the type of art the book is principally about has antecedents in Western art back as far as the Romans...


Dali: Probably the first artist that hangs in major galleries that I took an interest in, years before I discovered Impressionism as an undergrad. Focuses on his figure-ground illusion type of painting and the anamorphic illusions. The figure-ground pictures, whilst endlessly fascinating for their detail and trickery, mostly don't form over-all images that are very appealing, aesthetically. The best one I've ever seen, The Metamorphosis of Narcissus (in the Tate Modern, London), which does appeal to me aesthetically, as well as combining subject matter and the type of illusion involved spectacularly, isn't reproduced. In fact none of the most famous paintings are here. In a way that's good; it brings new material to my attention. As for the anamorphic paintings, which appear to be one thing when viewed flat and another when viewed in a cylindrical mirror, I had not even heard of them before. Dali's diversity never ceases to amaze me; nor does his technical skill - never more impressive than in these anamorphic images.