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Prior to the holidays, I received a great gift, a copy of the beautifully produced three-volume study A Land So Remote, authored by Larry Frank and Skip Miller, and published by Marianne and Michael O'Shaughnessy of Red Crane Books, Publishers, Santa Fe.
Creation of a successful publication of this magnitude can only be accomplished by many who work in concert, in this case scholar, editor, publisher and, of course, those who are willing to share their treasures with anyone wishing to turn the pages in this landmark study. Frank and Miller have devoted a large percentage of their lives carefully studying and painstakingly handling objects-some of religious importance, powerful images that were the subject of daily devotion, while other objects that served a useful function in the lives of hundreds of thousands attempting to make their lives easier. To the Hispanic, Native American, and the Anglo, these objects were an integral part of daily life-whether as an expression of their spirituality, their intense religious devotion-- or to enable them to perform certain physical tasks-- cutting wood or baking bread.
The authors, in concert with photographer Michael O'Shaughnessy, have treated each object sympathetically, whether it be a santo or bulto, or packsaddle or carreta wheels, with the same level of care, even reverence. The real joy is in seeing so many diverse objects fashioned out of wood and other materials in significant numbers. How often have we had the opportunity of examining page after page of images beautifully organized and described. The authors, of course, treat us to a display of work by lesser known santeros, as well as the most celebrated, notably José Rafael Aragon. Volume two devotes pages 288 to 377 to some of the most powerful religious images by Aragon and his followers that the reader will ever experience.
Since 1974, I have been a frequent visitor to New Mexico and have written a few books on the Anglo painters. After reading Miller's and Frank's essays, I said to myself, "I wish I had written these words. Both scholars write with conviction and authority. They also write in a style I have labeled "an easy read." They have organized their material so that it makes sense. You understand why the objects were created, who created them and importantly, how they were created. Happily, these objects, some still in the churches in Ranchos de Taos, Chimayo, Taos, and chapels throughout the Southwest, others in museums and private collections, have been "gathered" and presented to the reader and viewer in a beautiful and effective manner (I was tempted to use the phrase elegant but refrained).
All reviews of the publication praise A Land So Remote for its visual appeal, handsome photographs," fascinating account of the history and culture of Hispanic New Mexico," scholarship, a major contribution to Hispanic studies. One critic even suggested that, before being placed in a glass case [with other rare books], it might serve as a coffee table book. Never! If anything, it will be a banquet table book, and will be the scene of great feasts-visual and literary. But their words, like mine, fail to express the impact this handsome three-volume study will have on you-the participant. This study will, like the objects that it treats, transcends time. Secure your copy. I can assure you that it will never gather dust (although it will go out-of-print).
Dean A. Porter, Ph. D.
Director Emeritus, The Snite Museum of Art
Professor of Art History
University of Notre Dame
Larry Frank is remembered for "The New Kingdom of the Saints" (1997), while Skip Miller is curator and director, Taos Historic Museums.
With 842 stunning color photographs and 848 pages A Land so Remote surely holds the most comprehensive and accessible information on this subject. Many of the photos included are of rare objects gleaned from nine museums and a number of private collections. Carefully selected for the part each plays in this artistic corpus, photos are accompanied by concise essays that enhance knowledge while still piquing an interest to know more.
Volumes I and II beautifully present the growth of religious art during a period of over 125 years. It was a time when in order to undergird their faith Spanish settlers turned to santos, visual representations of saints. Thus was born an art form unique to America which once was of great import in churches, communities and homes.. Santos were, if you will, incarnations of the hopes and dreams of these immigrants.
"Rightly understood," author Frank remarks, "santos are a kind of 'liberation theology' written in the language of wood, plaster, and paint, an understanding of Christianity that empowers the poor to free themselves from unjust socioeconomic and cultural structures in the larger world and within themselves.
Volume III centers on wooden objects, such as tools, furniture, toys, and domestic utensils. These objects testify to the influence of the Spanish on the traditions of the indigenous inhabitants of this region.
Photographer Michael O'Shaughnessy described his task as a "...wonderful, often awesome, experience of having such close contact with material that radiates the love and importance that their makers brought to their creation."
Such is the case with readers as they leaf through the pages of these landmark volumes.
- Gail Cooke
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GK, fired with a love of his subject so bright one can almost see it on the page, makes his arguments in the midst of a hodge-podge of information. He discusses Dickens's works, giving descriptions and quotations so enthusiastic that, if anything could make someone want to read Dickens, this stuff would. He discusses Dickens, his character, life, and times, and the nature of greatness ("Almost from the very first there was a school of thought that held that Dickens was one of the great ones. Dickens certainly belonged to this school"). History, biography, philosophy, literary criticism--all written in typical GK style, with the utmost clarity and a constant and tremendous awareness of words and their sounds, resulting in rampant word play. In short, the book is a total package: a joy to read both because of what it says, what it evokes, and how it says and evokes what it does. 'Charles Dickens' is the literary equivalent of food; it should be taken regularly, and, gobbled or savoured, will nourish.
As with all of the Kendall Advanced Theory books, a moderate degree of mathematical sophistication is assumed.
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Definition and scope of target costing as explained in the book:
The target costing process is a system of profit planning and cost management that is price led, customer focused, design centred, and cross-functional. The target costing initiates cost management at the earliest stages of product development and applies it throughout the product life cycle by actively involving the entire value chain.
The difference between target costing and cost management is that the latter focuses on reducing the cost when they are already occurring, that means when the product design and the process are already defined. The target costing approach on the other hand helps to identify the allowable cost for a product in the design stage, the cost at the manufacturing stage are therefore known to be achievable and competitive. Further cost improvements are achieved by kaizen costing (continuous improvement).
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Worth to leaf through, but not much more.
I found this book to be extremely interesting and well-written in detail. But the author could be ponderous in repeating some sub-themes and points.
You will learn a lot about the causes of genius and creativity but you won't walk away with a quick set of techniques to help you on your immediate problem. You will learn an overall approach of what has worked in the past.
His references and analogies to Darwin make the book even better. His references of other readings are also excellent and very detailed.
I really liked his comparison of artistic vs. scientific creativity or genius. One selection from the book that I found very interesting was this one on what makes for greatness in a genius:
"... individual differences in total lifetime output are indeed associated with the degree of eminence achieved. In fact, research has consistently shown that the most powerful single predictor of reputation among both contemporaries and future generations is the person's sum total of contributions. Furthermore, almost all other variables that may correlate with the differnce in fame between individuals do so only because they affect the output of creative products."
The point made in this sub-theme by Simonton was that it was the QUANTITY rather than the just the QUALITY that often was the leading indicator of peer acceptance of genius. If the genius is not stepping up to the plate and taking a lot of swings, he won't go down as a "Babe Ruth." Most of the geniuses studied were single home-runners.
Another thing I liked about the author was an often used approach of revealing a concept, proving it with lots of historical details and studies, then when you were really convinced, he showed you why other studies show why that logic might be flawed. He did this several times in the book, and it was quite stimulating to see the flaws in many people's logic... after you had made the same fatal assumption or mistake.
I highly recommend this book for those interested in the background and causes of genius and creativity. My copy of this book is heavily underlined.
Sugar Land, TX
Some readers might think that this book is too researchy, especially readers looking for how to books on quick and easy creativity methods. Strangely, this book while maintaining all the professional balance and careful definition of any academic work, makes it much clearer what you have to do to become creative than the top 50 how to books combined. I counted an amazing 1100 particular suggestions in this book for how to make someone more creative--that is about 1000 more than any other published how to book and this book avoids the exaggerations, the sales language, and the imbalanced treatment of pros and cons of such lesser books.
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