Skip to main content

Speculative Taxidermy: Buy aspirin at the same time, you might need it

This is a hard book to talk about. The subject matter itself requires a person to remove their tinted glasses before viewing and I had a hard time doing this. As a viewer of the subject, I am supposed to have strong feelings. Reading this on the train to work, it was a hard gamble if I would be able to pull myself out of the strange headspace it put me in and be functional through the day.

In many ways, this book itself was Taxidermy. It had a scaffolding of data and reference material to give it form, but in the end was an illusion of skin; It put on a pleasant appearance, but once studied, was found to be hollow in areas while over-stuffed in others.
  • Speculative Taxidermy: Natural History, Animal Surfaces, and Art in the Anthropocene (Giovanni Aloi)
  • 304 pages
  • Columbia University Press
  • ISBN-10: 0231180713
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231180719

Buying books through this link will support 
this site but cost you no extra money.

Consider picking up a copy for personal use OR to donate to your local library.

I would probably re-blurb this book. My interpretation of the author’s tinted goggles: "Speculative Taxidermy is valuable at the basest of human levels. While people -don’t get it-, human interaction with corpses changes the human as well as the corpse. Taxidermy is an emotional Schrodinger's cat".

Taxidermy is a loaded topic. In its classic form, it is simply the recreation of an animal carcass using scaffolding of woods and metals. In its speculative form, it equally borders the beautiful and crass, evoking strong emotions. Depending on the artist, it can feel like you are watching a beautiful ballet of concepts, with others you are worried that another serial killer found an excuse to murder an animal and play with its parts.

This book is probably best categorized with textbooks could be broken into four generalized parts.*
  • 50% Over thought historical analysis. It feels like the author is applying more purposeful thought to historic or cultural artifacts when these things are unlikely to have been purposeful. Culture, while guided, is rarely a planned process.
  • 35% Lofty and circular ‘smart’ talk. The author appeared to want to limit the audience to a population of like-minded rather than expand understanding. Preaching to the choir would be the metaphor to describe.
  • 14% Easily approachable information. Some of this book, starting very late, seemed to speak more accessible.
  • 1% Photographic examples. Surprisingly, these were limited, as were the actual examples of Speculative work.
  • * (percentages for illustrative purposes, not actual math)

When I began reading this, based on the title and book description, I expected significant back history to set the stage. I  was surprised when page after page I was given an analysis of cultural history and it never seemed to end. While fascinating, it diluted the rest of the book and would have been better served as it’s own standalone work. It strayed for too long on related but arguably pertinent topics for it to be considered dedicated to the subject matter.

The book did give me a hit list of potential research to read up on ethics, psychology, and general human speculation. As with any reference text, there is a significant amount of referential material used to justify or support the viewpoints of the author. In this case, between the references and circular arguments disguised by thesaurus gymnastics, I don't know that I ever saw the author’s view directly, even as I formed my own...

Taxidermy is a touchy subject, but Speculative Taxidermy (especially in art) is doubly so. The key here is the polarizing nature of life and death. I want to say that I would not go out of my way to see an exhibit or view someone’s work, but then I think about Bodyworks. Bodyworks is a prime example of revised life, while the medium is slightly different than classic taxidermy, it is still preservation of body with intent to display. I felt pretty strange about that exhibit as well but still viewed it.

Long story short, don't get this book if you dislike introspection or have a short fuse for fringe topics.
If you are still on the fence, check the thirty dollar ebook/paperback price tag. The high cost to read might push you over to the 'do-not-read' or 'borrow-from-library' side of the fence.

Disclosure: This book was provided for review purposes by the author or publisher. Forming a viewpoint is often difficult, but readers should be assured my perspective is not influenced by the source of the material.

Sometimes reading can be a Sisyphean task, watch out for the boulders as I step aside.


Popular posts from this blog

AbyssRium (IDLE Idea Factory) + Strategy

Tap games are a dime a dozen in the mobile world. Most (as is AbyssRium) are free with ad-supported revenue and/or provide efficiency cheats in a store.

AbyssRium sets itself apart from other tap games by leveraging a unique concept. In a Synthetic ocean, you are the ever loving caretaker of a talking 'Coralite', which to the best of our perceptions is an underwater volcanic vent. The point of the game is to build strength and vitality for your volcano and its surrounding wild life; evolving animals and fortifying new types of coral. As each element of your world is enhanced, you elicit more vitality from the creatures for use in evolution.
It is easiest to think of your mobile device as the side of a giant fish tank, and you are going to be tapping on the glass. While you were told in life this was bad for an aquarium, in AbyssRium, your Coralite considers this loving attention. It smiles at you, gives on screen hints, and makes a slightly disturbing orgasm face every time y…

Anne of Green Gables: Hell to the graphic novel YEAH!

I grew up eating a lot of cheesy macaroni and hanging around women who obsessed over Anne of Green Gables. They watched the films, read the books, pretended to be the characters. I understood macaroni but failed to understand the pull people had for Avonlea.

As I got older, I gained an appreciation. My reading branched out to more than just Stephen King and Hardy Boys. I read the first book in the series and evolved into a big bearded dude who doesn't change the channel when some variation comes on the Hallmark channel. Netflix launched 'Anne with an E' and I holed up in the bedroom with my wife to consume it.

I nearly peed myself when I found out a new Graphic Novel was slated for release.

PREORDER! October 24th Release date.
Buying a copy through this link supports this site but cost you no extra money.
Put it in the closet for an awesome x-mas gift.
Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel (Brenna Thummler, Mariah Marsden)
232 pages
Andrews McMeel Publishing
ISBN-10: 1449479…

River Queens: Keeping good company with Huck and Hemingway

Pre-Release, publication set for 10/17/18
A boat is a hole in the water you throw money into,” is one of thousands of sayings that denies the truth which every sailor respects: a boat is conduct into a hostile environment. Water is a hostile environment. Seafarers are so afraid of it that we make jokes about running aground, catching fire, and blowing up; accidents happen. But that danger is the bond that holds together otherwise free-spirited individuals into one cohesive lot.
- River Queens
Based on a review copy of the book, I was pleased that my initial impressions were shallow. Initial thoughts (after reading the leaf notes alone) were a presented heavy handedness, calling hail to the great American novel as many small publications aspire every year. Determining what I was actually to be reading required cracking the first page and just taking it on directly. The title of the book, ‘River Queens: Saucy boat, stout mates, spotted dog, America’ supported a potential hyperbolic w…