Books of the week #84

the ignorant teacherby Jacques Rancière (Books of the Thrush)

35 years have passed since the original publication of this fundamental subtitled book Five Lessons on Intellectual Emancipation and that, despite what one might think, it is not so much a manual for teaching as for philosophical-political reflection. the ignorant teacher alludes to a real historical character, Joseph Jacobot (1770-1840), “extravagant pedagogue” and creator of the method named after him, which he launched at the beginning of the 19th century after having been heavily involved in the French Revolution: when he was commissioned to teach their language to students at a Belgian university, he gave birth to a didactics that did not start from sacred lessons, but from the students’ own initiative, the only one capable of leading to equality through reason. His compatriot, the theoretician and university professor Jacques Ranciere (Algiers, 1940), an eminent Althusserian, wanted with this book to show the two faces of the educator, the emancipator and the stultifying, depending on their approach to this horizontal exchange with their students. Collecting the legacy of Jacotot, already from his prologue, the academic points out that «[l]The friends of equality do not have to instruct the people to bring them closer to equality, they have to emancipate the intelligences” if they do not want to prolong inequality ad infinitum. It is not a matter of method, but of basis, such as the one that presupposes that a society pedagogized it must civilize its “savages”, following a principle of vertical authority with which it is intended to super-invest the school with the ability to improve the social order, reducing its fractures. An idea that is a paradox in itself for Rancière because, according to him, equality is not “the availability of products at low prices on supermarket shelves”, but a quality absent that depends on those who “assume the risk of verify it» and to invent the ways, individual or collective, to do it. This new expanded edition that Libros del Zorzal offers us adds an extensive interview with the French philosopher in which the validity of his work can be appreciated in the context of the 21st century. Teacher ignorant, says Rancière, is the one “who does not transmit his knowledge and who is not the guide who leads the student along the path; who is purely the will, who tells the will that it is about to find its way and, therefore, to exercise by itself its intelligence to find that way ». So be it.


the lord of the djinnby P. Djèlí Clark (Sleep awake)

Winner of the prestigious Nebula and Locus awards —and thus repeating the critical success of her previous Ring Shout, where some demons were summoned by the Ku Klux Klan—, the novel that concerns us is the first long work of its author; fancy steampunkinspired by the fusion of medieval folklore and an Egypt, between technology and magic, in which people live with the djinn, kind of geniuses, angels, spiritual or “unnatural” beings, as they are described here. Not surprisingly, speculative fiction writer, educator, and historian Dexter Gabriel, better known by his pseudonym Phenderson Djeli Clark (Queens, NY, 1971), also research and reflect on his articles on diversity and politics: the lord of the djinn It represents a critical look at the discrimination of race, gender and class through a story of love, mystery and adventure that captivates from the very beginning, with the appearance of its wonderful protagonist. Fatma el-Sha’arawi, the youngest and most famous agent of the “Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities”, investigates in an alternate version of Cairo, set in the year 1912, the brutal massacre of members of an ancient cult secret to al-Jahiz, a Sudanese mystic who returned magic to a world always threatened by the Great War, for which he uses the help of his partner Hadia and her lover Siti. A plot typical of a noir novel, full of twists and turns, that the author handles with sagacity through a prose full of vivid descriptions that plunge us fully into its amazing scenarios, its hierarchy of figures from another world(s). ) and his reflection on social inequities: «Egypt boasted of modernity. Women went to school and worked in its flourishing factories. […] But the female presence in public life still made a lot of people nervous.” The reference to Arabian Nights and their stories full of djinngules, mermaids, talking trees, bronze horses, mummified queens, living puppets or humanoid machines. Preceded by a previous story that already introduces us to the heroine of this story, the lord of the djinn is an inescapable postcolonial uchrony within the framework of this genre: solid and stylized, it does not neglect a sense of humor or the confrontation with many of the issues that challenge us in the present real. “If women can fight and defeat patriarchy, we can also fight class inequalities!” we read, and we can only hope that this is not only a speculative but a visionary work.


Totoro and meby Amaia Arrazola (Lunwerg)

blankMore than a year of investigative and creative work took the author to finish this analysis of the art of a contemporary genius of animation: the filmmaker, mangakaproducer of anime and co-founder of the legendary Japanese Studio Ghibli Hayao Miyazaki (Bunkyo, 1941). Although, more than an analysis, it is a total immersion —without a diving suit— in his work, since the challenge that is undertaken in this impressive graphic volume is the investigation of his particular and extraordinary universe through the recreation of his visual imagery. in the form of illustrations. She comes from advertising art direction and is the author of several illustrated books, among which we can highlight here another one published by Lunwerg under the title wabi sabi, Amaia Arrazola (Vitoria, 1984) starts from an assumed modesty: that of having “fought face to face with the impostor syndrome” during the elaboration of Totoro and me because, she admits in her introduction, she is not a specialist in the subjects she covers. But precisely what makes this book fascinating is that it is not a biography or an essay to use, but a real journey that, filling its precious pages with illustrated versions of the characters, scenes and worlds conceived by the Japanese master, manages to pay a faithful and very personal tribute to her iconic and precious work, capable of consolidating a unique stamp since her debut in 1979. The author has been able to collect some of the most interesting conclusions from previous studies of Laura Montero Silver either Anna Juneent, among others, and incorporating a huge amount of data, references to Japanese culture and “geeky” findings with the eyes of a true fan. Aspects such as Miyazaki’s predilection for young, strong (in spirit) and intrepid protagonists, but also powerful old women, the taste for everything that happens in the air or her theory of the three meter radiusfor which scenes as famous as the rain in my neighbor totoro they were inspired by experiences very close to the director. Arrazola advises reading slowly and gradually discovering these dense pages, which overflow with creativity and passion and, in this way, seem transfixed by the magical and inspiring spirit of Miyazaki himself. arigato for this gift for the eyes and the heart.


Conversation with a mestizo from New Spainby Serge Gruzinski (Alliance)

blankAfter his basic What is the story for?the prestigious historian, archivist and paleographer Serge Gruzinsky (Tourcoing, 1949), a specialist in the process of Latin American miscegenation, expands and enriches those reflections with this research around what can be considered a globalization pioneering: the one that followed the discovery of America and the intercultural connection of two worlds that had been segregated until then. A “stellar” historical moment that is currently the subject of academic study and debate, since it represents “a mirror that European memories could not do without.” What is original is the dialogical format of this bookwhich starts from a work by the historian and interpreter Diego Munoz Camargo (1529-1599), born to a Spanish conquistador and a Mexican indigenous woman, in the vast viceroyalty of New Spain. A very distant world that, however, anticipates ours, since “the mixture of men and women did not take long to reach an intensity and scale previously unknown.” Human experiences that are, as the author of this essay indicates, both indigenous and European, African, Asian and, above all, mestizo. In the first part of this investigation packed with fictitious conversations with Muñoz Camargo, the history and customs of Tlaxcala, the town of his origin, are described, while the second evokes his admiration for the conquerors and, specifically, for the figure of Hernan Cortes. As indicated by the doctor in history Jose Antonio Martinez Torres in the presentation of this edition, it is not so much a biography as a «reconstruction of the inner man» who was this mestizo, from whose thought we extract, on the one hand, a more complex vision of the clash between Aztec America and the Catholic West; and, on the other, the awareness that “the indigenous universe is relegated to an antiquity” after the conquest. What he achieves with this essential essay Gruzinski, who attached to the so-called history of mentalities has been studying the history of the mixture of populations in those latitudes for more than four decades, is that miscegenation has not been a spontaneous phenomenon. The essayist quotes Montaigne when he pointed out that the Indians of the kingdom of Mexico “judged like us that the universe was near its end”; today, Gruzinski notes, the West has destroyed biodiversity and “seems to have burned up all its metaphysical fuel.” To explain (to us) these contemporary realities, it is convenient to look back at the origin of everything. Without fear.

Books of the week #84