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Book reviews for "Elkins,_James" sorted by average review score:

Gilbert & Sullivan (The Illustrated Lives of the Great Composers/Op44924)
Published in Paperback by Omnibus Press (1993)
Authors: Alan James, Andrew Codd, and Opera Synopses
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A compassionate validation of the individual spirit
Jame Elkins has written a book that should be in the librairies of schools, art historians, incipient and experienced art lovers. In a winning conversational style of writing Elkins makes the case for subjective response to paintings, both past and present. And in doing so he gives a brief course in at history (he is an art historian, actively teaching) that is less a chronological evaluation of politics and sociology and techniques of painting than it is a survey of how people have responded to paintings through time. His precis: we are in this century prevented from "experiencing" paintings, so immersed are we in swallowing the opinions of scholars and critics and our own spiritual aridity. He examines why certain people are able to cry in their encounter with paintings, others are moved to physiologic reactions, while others speedily walk past image after image in their need to huury past another obligatory check point in claiming cultural awareness. In many ways this is a sad treatise on the fact that we have arrived at a time when we don't embrace our vulnerability, don't admit that something so apparently inanimate as an old master painting - if given the quantity and quality of time to absorb it - can touch inner secret caves and cause us to light up our souls and our existence by responding with unfettered eyes and heart.

Elkins investigates the various responses (including his own) to the Rothko Chapel, to Giotto, to Renaissance paintings, to the Romantics, to Friedrich, and to Picasso's "Guernica". These are in the form of summation of letters written to him in response to his question "Have you ever cried at paintings?" sent to previous students, art historians, and friends. His findings show that art historians in general have encouraged us to examine paintings as examples of technique, of historical settings, of schools of thought in the past: such academic dissection has replaced the individual response to the visual image. And fortunately for us the author concludes that the visceral response to paintings is more important than the cell of academic cold shelter.

For those of us who have committed our lives to bridging the gap between the painter and the public, encouraging everyone to go to the museums, galleries, schools, and churches to experience the indefinable majesty of emotional response to art, this little book is a godsend. Buy it, read it slowly, break down your own barriers, open your mind, and you will find validation of your inner artist. This is a "beautiful presence" of an artistic expression and we are indebted to Elkins for his courage in writing it.

May the Road Rise to Meet You: Everything You Need to Know About Irish American History
Published in Paperback by Plume (1999)
Authors: Michael Padden and Robert Sullivan
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Insight for Painters
This is a serious book for painters. If you are having a problem with what or why you're painting, this book may help. It seeks to explain painting from a truly unique viewpiont. Elkins does an excellent job. A fasinating book. An intellectual exercise.

Full Moon Serenade
Published in Paperback by Galwin Press (15 March, 2001)
Author: William Scott Galasso
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well-done, interesting, but needs a warning...
The main reason I posted this review is to warn readers that some of the images in this book may be disturbing. I thought it was well-written and fascinating. However, if I had known what I was going to encounter, I never would have opened it. The sexual images are tasteful and not overly graphic, but I was bothered by the death and torture photos. There are some things I just don't want to see if I can avoid them.

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with this kind of thing being published. I would not have it "banned" or interfere with its distribuition. I just wish that someone had told me it's not for the squeamish.

If these kinds of things don't bother you, then it's worth the read.

Insight on the nature of sight
Elkins' thoughts on sight and seeing is a multifaceted deconstruction on how we view and are viewed by objects we encounter. It's a subject that we take for granted and draw large assumptions about. Elkins proposes seeing as a metaphor for the life cycle: we awake groggy-eyed like a newborn, go through our day with vigor and energy observing and absorbing, and return to darkness in sleep like blindness and death.

Tied together with many personal anecdotes with flowing use of language, the book is an insight for those interested in post-structuralist analysis of idea, communication, and sight.

On the Nature of Seeing...
I remember reading SOMEWHERE-- a textbook on psychology, perhaps??-- that humans absorb about 70% of their world through their eyes. After reading this work, I am convinced it is paradoxically that the real percentage is BOTH less *AND* more than this figure.

LESS because we are so often "blind" or unaware of what we see and the very NATURE of what we see and how we see at all. MORE, because so much rests on our ability to see AT ALL, especially in the late 20th century, and especially in our culture, which places such high value on sight (though, perhaps, less value on HOW we see or WHAT is seen). But, again, LESS, because we really don't THINK about what we see or *how* we see...

Mr. Elkins, an art historian-- someone TRAINED to see, if you will-- has done much thinking on the topic and theory of sight and what it REALLY means to see. I admit, when I first got this book, I was afraid it would be the sort of dry, academic drivel that one would need to plow through with a dictionary at one's side, coming to the end almost gasping for breath, "there!! I finished it!!"

Not so at all. Mr. Elkins has written an extremely entertaining, thought provoking book on something we all do every day, often for every SECOND of the day (and isn't dreaming a form of seeing, after all, in it's own fashion??), and done it without heavy emphasis on academia, abstract or unknown concepts, or the general feeling-- that I have had in other arenas-- that he clearly wishes us to believe that he is SMARTER than the average reader, and needs to prove it through the use of highly technical jargon or impenetrable metaphor.

Again, I say, "not at all." This is a very engaging, thought provoking work that I would heartily recommend to anyone even REMOTELY interested in the ideas behind sight and what is (and is NOT) seen. We do it all the time, every day, from birth to death, in most cases. The least we can do is to listen to a fine thinker like Mr. Elkins and hear HIS thoughts on this complicated, fascinating subject.

The Ra Material: An Ancient Astronaut Speaks (The Law of One , No 1)
Published in Paperback by Schiffer Publishing, Ltd. (1984)
Authors: Elkins McCarty, Don Elkins, James Allen McCarty, and Carla Rueckert
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The history of psychic channelling and channelled material has a long and checkered past. In the last century, at least in the West, the seriousness and quality of such work has been generally dismissed as something between a quaint parlor trick and delusional doomsday prophesying. In a broader historical context, however, channeling has been accepted for 1000's of years as a genuine means of acquiring valid and useful information. Consider that much of the Bible, as the divinely inspired Word of God, easily qualifies as channelled material. It is from this latter context that I view the RA Material. From an intuitive standpoint the information contained within this first book, as well as, the remaining four other books rings true. The channelled entity RA claims to be a higher dimensional being of collective intelligence with karmic connections to Earth and it's ensouled inhabitants. Essentially, the message is as follows: Long ago, Earth was selected by benevolent higher dimensional beings as a planet for the seeding of Life in all its myriad forms including humankind. These beings are members of an "intergalactic federation" of sorts comprised of various advanced intelligences with representatives from assorted civilizations throughout the universe. There "mission" is to oversee and nurture the development and evolution of other less advanced civilizations while not interfering with planetary affairs or indvidual lives to the point of violating Free Will. One realizes that at some point, the distictions between angels and highly developed extra-dimensional alien beings who watch over us with concern and care are rougly one and the same. Throughout history, they have periodically attempted to gently steer us away from the darkness of possible destruction and towards the light of soul development or evolution by offering wisdom and understanding through various means ranging from inspiration in dreams to direct physical contact. Their message is The Law Of One which states that the Creator is real, that the universe and everything in it is His creation, and that Love is not only also real but a powerful energetic force of Creation. We are all souls having a "human experience" over many physical incarnations for the purpose of learning truths which will allow us to move on to the next level of development in an endless jouney to become one with the Creator again. This is but a brief synopsis and doesn't do justice to the remarkable amount of information and specific detail contained in the five books. The books were written in the early 1980's, and the fact that a great many of RA's statements have come to pass in the last twenty years lends credence to the overall quality of the work and channelling in general. In my experience, this material is the best of it's kind, easily ranking with the Jane Roberts' Seth books. Read the RA Material and enjoy the feeling of wonder again and again.

The Ra material is the transcription of the taped communications between researcher Don and the entity RA, a being that is talking through Carla, often referred to as the "instrument" throughout the book (s), in a state of deep trance. The transcriptions are carried out by Jim and the three are always present during all sessions, creating a triangulation of light that allows for RA, a sixth dimensional being, that calles itself a "socialmemory complex", to come through and speak.

RA has choosen this group because of the purity of their intent and makes himself available to them for questions about the Universe, the Creator, the dimensions, Karma, the law of One and any other material that might aid people in understanding universal truths that might be helpful for mankinds evolution.

The materail is very esoteric and requires some concentration. However, it is well worth the effort, as it is enlightening, very precise, accurate and informative. The explanations around the shift in dimensions we are about to undergo on the planet, that Ra defines as the harvest, are devoid of hype and sensation. Harvest is a process that all beings and planetary bodies eventually encur, following physical/spiritual law just as eclipses do or the seasons.The science of the harvest ( ascension) is explained in depth here as is the chakra system and it's role in Soul evolution.

Also extremely interesting the explanation of the polarization of entities into Service to Self orintated entities and Service to Others orientated entities and the implications these have in the ascension process and the roles they play within the bigger picture.

A really deep read and well worth the effort. I have read all four volumes and I am about to tackle vol 5. I thoroughly recommend it.

The Ra Material & Law of One books
This "contact" is the only example of so-called channeled material to which I would give an unqualified endorsement -- if by "channeled" one refers to communication with another entity, not one's own subconscious or superconscious, nor "angelic" or hierarchical sources, while in trance.

Guaranteed to interest students of forteana, metaphysics, and matters of the spirit... But, to those of you on the straight and narrow spiritual path, a cautionary note is advised whenever the possibility arises of engaging in "spiritual gossip" that may accompany the "true teachings". And said Goethe: "Thought widens, but paralyzes; whereas action enlivens, but narrows."

Hope I haven't confused you too much with this electronic "contact". Happy distorting.

Public Utilities
Published in Hardcover by Scarecrow Press (01 August, 1991)
Author: Anne C. Roess
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interesting book, but not what the title implies...
I eagerly looked forward to this book after reading a review in the local paper. However, the title is very misleading. Although it is well done for what it is, it is not a book (right brain) about how to see, but rather is a (left brain) book about the rather interesting details of the object that you are seeing what automobile forces have created the irregularities in pavement, or what the anatomy is behind a chest x-ray, or the geologic history of grains of sand... interesting, but not really a book about the process of seeing, and how to actually see objects. You may actually enjoy this book if you are interested in unusual facts and details about the world, but its not a book about the process of awakening your awareness...

Many short and wonderful vignettes
How to Use Your Eyes by James Elkins invites us to look at -- and maybe to see for first time -- the world around us, with breathtaking results. Note, only a little of this book is about colors. Other chapters include things that everyone sees, but no one notices: cracks in pavement, culverts under highways, grass, sand. We appreciated sunsets much more after reading this book.

Palm Tree Eyes
I love this book. I love the fussy little details. I took this book to school, and two eigth-graders were fighting over it. They were eager to show other students and me the gems they had found in it. Thanks to Marcia for giving it to me.

Practical Selling: A Case Approach
Published in Paperback by West Information Pub Group (1992)
Authors: Maurice G. Clabaugh, Dan C. Weilbaker, Jesse L. Forbes, and Leyh
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Insider Conversation
Chatty and irresistable, rather than being the harsh polemic that the title might suggest, this volume is a multifaceted discussion of the issues involved in teaching and studying art in a studio environment. Anyone who has ever lived through a studio critique will find the book hard to put down. Like Elkin's earlier work, "What Painting Is," it will make any art-student readers wish that they could study with him at the Art Institute of Chicago.

Despite the provocative title, Elkins has very little interest in transforming arts education. Rather, he wants to point to both the virtues and the pitfalls of critique-based evaluation, and to get both teachers and students to appreciate just what a mysterious and irrational process it is to attempt to teach/learn the studio arts.

The author is an insider speaking candidly for other insiders -- the audience for this valuable and intelligent essay may not be huge, but within that group, it will stimulate many electrifying conversations.

all art students and profs should have to read this
The author details art instruction through the ages and discusses the question asked in the title. Art and artists would be so much better thought of by society, and art istself would improve, if the ideas in this book were taken seriously. It is a DEEP book, not for casual reading.

How to Make Your Dreams Come True
Published in Paperback by Science of Mind Publishing (1981)
Author: Loyd Littlepage
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Art History on the Edge
For whatever reason, some of the most daring, experimental writing in the field of art history is now coming out of Chicago. Barbara Maria Stafford (who teaches at the University of Chicago) is one of the chief innovators, as is the author of this book, who teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Purely in terms of output, Elkins is phenomenal. In the past five years, he has published eight important books (all of which, without exception, are worth looking into): The Poetics of Perspective (1995); The Object Stares Back: On the Nature of Seeing (1996); On Pictures and the Words That Fail Them (1998); On Beautiful, Dry and Distant Texts: Art History as Writing (1998); What Painting Is: How to Think About Oil Painting, Using the Language of Alchemy (1998); Why Are Our Pictures Puzzles?: On the Modern Origins of Pictorial Complexity (1999); Pictures of the Body: Pain and Metamorphosis (1999), and this title, which is the latest. How is this even possible? The answer in part is that all of his books, while each is unique, are more or less about the same range of issues: They are all about "art history on the edge," about aspects of art and design that defy categorization and that easily fall through the cracks in doctoral research programs. Like Gyorgy Kepes (The New Landscape in Science and Art) and E.H. Gombrich (Art and Illusion), whom Elkins must surely be influenced by, he almost always argues (by example, if not by the actual words that he writes) that art historians should look beyond their traditional subject areas and focus as much on the images in science, technology, commerce, medicine, music and archaeology. (Copyright by Roy R. Behrens from Ballast Quarterly Review, Vol 15 No 3, Spring 2000)

Women and political insurgency : France in the mid-nineteenth century
Published in Unknown Binding by Macmillan Press ; St. Martin's Press ()
Author: David Barry
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Should be retitled- WHAT ALCHEMY IS.
Ok, I understand what Elkins is trying to do here. The Metaphor is fascinating: Painting is like antiquarian alchemy. The creative process of working, discovery, and distillation of unknown substances into tangible liquids, solids, etc. Blah, blah, blah. Another reviewer said, "Arcane." No kidding. This stuff can be interesting, but who cares what the alchemical symbol for mercury is? Except maybe a student of alchemy. Elkins practically admits since Modern Chemistry came along it's all nonsense and mythology. Does anybody besides Elkins really study this quackery? HERMAPHRODITES? OEDIPUS? Woody Allen would have a field day with this stuff. I want to learn about painting!! This book is replete with this kind of academia throughout the majority of the treatise, when it could have been outlined in the first Chapter. Elkins is very erudite and understands his topic well. He is extremely articulate. I had to read this with an unabridged dictionary in my lap. But his publisher should have made him focus more on his wonderful knowledge of painting. The book should have been titled, WHAT ALCHEMY IS.

However, what illuminates this murky essay is Elkins examination of paint on a surface. Included in this book are 15 color plates of telephotographic representations of some famous and not so famous paintings. It's here that Elkins shines a light on the process of putting color on a surface. Texture, Underpainting, Thickness, Brushstroke, Mixture, Sweat, Blood, Feces, Hair and more, are thoroughly deconstructed in these passages. AMAZING!! Who cares about the Metaphor? I'm a painter. I wanted more examination of painting. It's here, that Elkins gifts of teaching truely overwhelm the reader.

Maybe someday Elkins will write a REAL book called, "WHAT PAINTING IS." I think he'd have a runaway Bestseller on his hands.

Maybe if I bury some tubes of paint, a stretch, some eye of newt, and the red pubic hair of a menstrating woman in a stone house under a full moon and dig it up in 2 years, I'll have a representational masterpiece of an homunculus. HOLY COW!! I'M A GENIUS!!


Interesting but arcane
I found the premis interesting, especially the ideas expressed in the first chapter. However, some of the alchemical ideas in later chapters seemed totally irrelevant to the act of painting. Nevertheless, it is a book with ideas you won't find anywhere else.

Not just Alchemy
This is an intriguing and new approach to understanding the intensity of the process of painting. Elkins offers unique insights and theory not on the subject matter that is presented as much on the metaphoric possibilities that link to painitng and its involvment. This book as his others open wonderful doors into further reasearch via thier bibliographies and references. Simply readable this book is worth the read. unforgettable. His newest book about the body should be another book to have.

Legal Interviewing and Counseling in a Nutshell (3rd Ed)(Nutshell Series)
Published in Paperback by West Wadsworth (1998)
Authors: Thomas L. Shaffer and James R. Elkins
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On Pictures and the Words that Fail Them
Published in Paperback by Cambridge Univ Pr (Pap Txt) (1998)
Author: James Elkins
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