September 11 - UVic Bookstore
University bookstores are magical places, frankly. The selection of interesting fiction from wee presses is usually smaller than it should be, but their poetry shelves are often capacious. And as was important today, their sale selections can be terrific:
- Kwame Anthony Appiah, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers ($3.99)
- Aaron Sachs, The Humboldt Current: Nineteenth-Century Exploration and the Roots of American Environmentalism ($2.99)
Indeed yes, I am a nerd -- why do you ask?
I very nearly bought Sachs' book for $34 when I saw it this summer, but I didn't want to carry this hardback monster home. It traces the cultural influence of early American explorer Alexander von Humboldt, and it looks like an absolute gem, I must say. Seventy pages of footnotes, twenty-five of bibliography, nineteen of index alone, oh heavens, I'm getting the vapours! Sample passage:
America would expand in every direction in the nineteenth century, usually with overtly imperialistic goals.... But the actual explorers dispatched to America's various frontiers tended to have more complicated motivations. Often, they focused on understanding the interrelationships of the peoples and landscapes they encountered in the wild, and they would up questioning the values of their home civilization--in part, at least, because they were trying to follow in Humboldt's footsteps. (pp.6-7)Appiah teaches philosophy at Princeton, and each blurb on the back cover is from a different Nobel winner: Nadine Gordimer (1991, literature), Kofi Annan (2001, peace), and Orham Pamuk (2006, literature). The book's in a series edited by the esteemed Henry Louis Gates, Jr., too, so I'm expecting good things. Sample sentence:
If what it's reasonable to believe depends on what you believe already..., then you can't test the reasonableness of all your beliefs. You respond to new evidence in the light of what you already believe, and that gives you new beliefs.... You can't get into the game of belief by starting with nothing. (p.41)