A Curriculum of Experience

In the recent past, I read pretty widely, it was an experience itself – learning English again, learning about a history of knowledge (philosophy), traveling through books, comparing reality, arguing – not so much passive reading. Now that I’m a bit more focused, my readings have become focused too, chosen based on past experiences and interests, before I began reading.

Though it does seem quite useless, impractical, lacking good use of working memory, and surely doing this out of current poor habit, over-organizing because I’m not in an active city, space, or social area, I’ve found that in the past, during downtime or simultaneously with work I end up consuming what media I do have most conveniently available – my smartphone – and so having some interesting media, is sometimes worth the trouble.

After writing down a few books of interest, it seems the theme of my interest is experience. If one is not experiencing, perhaps in a situation where creating experience is difficult, or one is simply in a lazy mode, perhaps books about experience will make one want to experience again, or remind oneself of one’s past experiences. Contrarily, if one is experiencing, then the books can be read simultaneously, and actually learn something from a book.

Hahahaha jk, books suck. If you must, let it be a practical handbooks and Wikipedia articles.

Update 17/9/15

It seems that this post, like the organized things I’ve written, is ever evolving. It started with creating a library related to experience, but as I used Wikipedia to attach words to ideas I’ve previously thought of, I’ve created an endless library of things I’ll never read. Though paradoxical, again, like the organized things I’ve written post, it turns out to be seemingly useful. Useful in the organization of ideas, but, as I often previously fought against during more active times in life, organization of ideas is not useful, it only seems so. 1) There is no need. The ideas exist, and always have since their inception. Instead of using time reading Wikipedia to map ideas to words as I just did here, I could be having experiences, creating new ideas, affecting the world, being a part of society. 2) It is uncreative. I could be creating my own words, which is an experience itself. 3) The use of vocabulary is limited to academics, making it inaccessible to the public. 4) The use of vocabulary influences others to conform to it, leading to the creation of a singular language… It’s circular logic, and it wastes real social time. It’s passive learning. One doesn’t need to know the political term or history of autonomism to understand it; If one can imagine an autonomous society, for example, most towns in Japanese role-playing video games, it is enough. Furthermore, along with the mapping of words to ideas, a useless history of philosophy often comes about. Only the mapping is what was seemingly important, nothing else. One should spend no further time on it. A google search of the description of an idea and appending “Wikipedia” to it usually suffices. If not, make a word up for it.

Update 27/11/15

It seems much of readings have shifted from experience toward critical theory, probably first as a result of wanting to describe the world, then later from being lazy and not experiencing and over-organizing.

Update 23/12/15

The People, Place, and Space Reader may be the closest description of the world and mind to my mind. Just a look at Simmel’s “Metropolis and the Mental Life” harks my early philosophy, which I wrote after much city experience. Previously, I thought David Harvey came closest, and before that, more classical critical theorists, but a glance at Harvey’s books one quickly learns that he relies on past human geographers and critical theorists and quotes them a lot to build a philosophy of human geography, and a glance at classical critical theorists one gets lost in the critiques of everything, failing to synthesize it with the contemporaneous world, especially the modern city. Forget classic philosophy canons (epistemology [maybe even pragmatism!] and political philosophy); Forget written language (save these essays). In the search of talking to someone about somethings, I’ve been distracted and misled by philosophy, distracted during the search for subjects that I wanted to talk about, misled by people who use past philosophers to help them write in a kind of infinite regression, and to larger forms of writings, which are more frequently mentioned in Wikipedia and sometimes even more easier to download (problem with digitization of essays and journals?), as opposed to contemporary concise essays and journal articles. God damn it. What a waste of time. Perhaps reading one essay from this book per week is enough. So glad the weather is warm now.

Still, this is only a small portion of my mind; It’s merely only the passive side. It’s missing the entire creative, active portion: creating public spaces, new media political city art, tools for society, urban material ideas, and so on, for that political end of increasing the freedom for others. I’m happy that such a book exists, but such an academic organization is quite useless compared to an active social organization that continuously deals with society, and the things that come out of the process – the realization of ideas with the aforementioned political ends.

writings on reading

Why Did I Read?
The Kinds of Literature and the Extraction of Ideas

currently interested in

From my ebook playlist:

towards social change via geography:
Society in Time and Space: A Geographical Perspective on Change by Robert Dodgshon

environmental social science:
1.***** The People, Place, and Space Reader

cultural theory readings:
2.*** culture and society: contemporary debates edited by Alexander and Seidman

natural societies:

towards an ideal society using cases of real societies:

  1. anarchism
    • Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology by David Graeber
    • contains possible contemporary political directions in a straightforward way
      – leads to other books by Graeber
      – synthesizes autonomous societies and anthropology
      ?. The Structure of World History: From Modes of Production to Modes of Exchange by Kojin Karatani
    • whoa
  2. existing autonomous societies / anarchist anthropology
    • Two Cheers for Anarchism: Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity and Meaningful Work and Play by James C. Scott
    • The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia by James C. Scott
    • Society Against the State: Essays in Political Anthropology by Pierre Clastres
    • Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey
    • not really autonomous, maybe even dependent, but super interesting


  1. The Nature of Order series by Christopher Alexander
  2. essays that involve “spontaneous order” by Michael Polanyi

classic anthropology cannon:

  1. anthropology
    • especially The Protestant Ethic, The Gift, and Debt

  2. anything by Dewey

  3. fun in critical theory
    • especially The Society of the Spectacle
  4. aesthetics in critical theory
    • especially Walter Benjamin, Marshal McLuhan
  5. core critical theory

  6. critical theory list mostly influenced by my desire to understand cities and the world from my experience, most of which happened to capitalistic
    ?. Figures of Dissent by Terry Eagleton
    • cannot find :(
  7. Critical Theory: A Very Short Introduction by Stephen Bronner
  8. “Traditional and Critical Theory” from Critical Theory: Selected Essays by Max Horkheimer
  9. “The Right to the City” by David Harvey (2008, Henri Lefebvre’s in in 1968)
  10. The Life and Death of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs (1961)
  11. the political portion of Habermas: A Very Short Introduction by James Finlayson
    • the rest of his work is limited to spoken and written language
  12. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere by Jurgen Habermas (1962)
  13. Social Justice and the City by David Harvey (1973)
    • almost requires Marx
  14. State, Space, World: Selected Essays by Henri Lefebvre
  15. Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism by David Harvey
  16. Marx: A Very Short Introduction by Peter Singer
  17. The Revolutionary Ideas of Karl Marx by Alex Callinicos
  18. The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon
  19. Place: A Short Introduction
  20. How Nonviolent Struggle Works by Gene Sharp

practical handbooks

WARNING: stop, think, do, repeat.


design and technology:

values and ideals

WARNING: perhaps you’re just unable to do things. No, that’s paradoxical. How about comparing your values and ideals with Wikipedia, in hopes of practically doing things to achieve them?

Wikipedia articles:
values and ideals:
















WARNING: remind yourself not to read before reading.


  1. Having an Experience [essay] by John Dewey, the philosopher-king of experience
    • leads to pragmatism
  2. Art as Experience by John Dewey
    • can continue to aesthetics in critical theory
  3. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by Hume
    • can try other British empericists

urban experience (also urban semiotics):

  1. these essays
    • also The People, Place, and Space Reader, though probably impossible to find, table of contents is available online and seems amazing, covering many urban topics
  2. Image and the City by Kevin Lynch
  3. Walkable City by Jeff Speck
    ?. Baudelaire’s Media Aesthetics: The Gaze of the Flâneur and 19th-Century Media

urban experience and early marxist geography?:

  1. Urban Experience (combines Consciousness and the Urban Experience, and The Urbanization of Capital) by David Harvey
    • leads to marxist geography?

marxist geography (aka David Harvey):
-1. watch his lectures first!

  1. “Right to the City” by David Harvey
  2. Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism by David Harvey
    • most recent overview, containing many old ideas
  3. State, Space, World: Selected Essays by Henri Lefebvre
  4. Social Justice and the City by David Harvey
    Antipode journal
    [The Condition of Post-Modernity is elsewhere]
    [Limits to Capital and Companion to Marx’s Capital is elsewhere]

human geography:

  1. Place: A Short Introduction
    For Space by Doreen Massey

urban experience and urban planning:

  1. The Life and Death of Great American Cities by Jane Jacobs
    • leads to The Economy of Cities
      ?. The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces by William H. Whyte


WARNING: okay, so you’re not feeling so practical. Perhaps you’re just unable to create an experience at the moment, out of creative energy, and just need media to push you to be more active. Well, for that, it’s better to just watch a film. Don’t you dare go further!

fun in critical theory

contemporary fun:
game philosophy and design:

  1. Babycastles Zine Reading Lounge
  2. Homo Ludens by Johan Huizinga
  3. Rules of Play by Katie Sellen and Eric Zimmerman
    Art of Game Design by Jessie Schell
    MIT Press’s Playful Thinking series

magical realism fiction:
*. Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino
*. Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman

  1. Collected Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borjes
  2. The Complete Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino?

travel books:
current travel books, especially for the country I am in
Book of the Marvels of the World by Marco Polo
?/Italian Journey by Goethe
The Sense of Wonder by Rachel Carson

*. The Essays by Francis Bacon

  1. The Complete Essays by Montaigne and translated by Donald A. Frame
  2. Essays and Letters by Seneca
    • leads to Montaigne
  3. Essays by Emerson
  4. The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell
    ?. The Nature of Order series by Christopher Alexander
    ?. Consequences Of Pragmatism: Essays 1972-1980 by Richard Rorty
    • leads to Philosophy and Social Hope by Richard Rorty

formal system (to help express ideas within a formal system):

  1. Euclid’s Elements (might as well learn some geometry too?)
  2. Spinoza’s Ethics (just to glance at an application)

vocabulary / glossaries:
Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society by Raymond Williams
A Glossary of Cultural Theory by Peter Brooker

games and math:
On Numbers and Games by John Conway


WARNING: maybe you just traveled a bunch via scooter and have visions of utopia. Emblazon them onto a medium quickly! Etch out those crazy ideas. Don’t you dare compare your visions with other’s. You will lose the memory of it soon.

city history:
The City in History by Lewis Mumford

Design and Planning:
urban design (especially ideal designs):

  1. A Pattern Language and Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander (read together)
    • leads to SimCity 2000
  2. Design with Nature - Ian McHarg
    • “ecological design” that may go well with A Pattern Language
      ?/3. City as Landscape - Tom Turner
    • “post-postmodern” design

urban design and public spaces:

  1. Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space by Jan Gehl
    • leads to many well-received books of his, culminating in Cities for People

“land ethic”:
A Sand Country Almanac by Aldo Leopold (referenced in A Pattern Language, listed under Columbia’s 2015 syllabus, and fits Taiwan’s ideology)
post-scarcity economy and other utopias

contemporary philosophy

WARNING: if the thought of reading one of these occurs, you must either be suffering from sensory deprivation, or, nearly completely lost all sensational experience and social connections from the real world.

Dialectic (the opposite of experience?):

  1. The Great Conversation: The Substance Of A Liberal Education by Mortimer J. Adler
    • leads to The Great Ideas: A Lexicon of Western Thought
  2. Dialectic by Mortimer J. Adler
  3. Dialogues by Plato
    • particularly those involving Socrates
  4. The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea by Arthur O. Lovejoy

*. Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky

philosophy of mind / cognition / cognitive science:

  1. Thinking Fast and Slow by Kahneman
    Metaphors We Live By George Lakoff and Mark Johnson

media theory:
aesthetics in critical theory

contemporary anthropology:
*. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond

  1. Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology by David Graeber
    • leads to Possibilities: Essays on Hierarchy, Rebellion, and Desire
    • leads to Revolutions in Reverse: Essays on Politics, Violence, Art, and Imagination
    • leads to Debt
    • leads to important things to think about related to anarchism
  2. Debt: The First 5000 Years by David Graeber
  3. The Western Illusion of Human Nature by Marshall Sahlins
  4. The Structure of World History: From Modes of Production to Modes of Exchange by Kojin Karatani
    ?. Crowds and Power by Elias Canetti

classic anthropology:

  1. The Gift by Marcel Mauss
    • leads to Debt
  2. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism by Max Weber
    • part of Columbia Curriculum
  3. The Interpretation Of Cultures by Geertz
  4. Tristes Tropiques by Claude Levi-Strauss
    Homo Ludens by Johan Huizinga
    • also listed under game philosophy
      The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond

“political economy”, “comparative politics”:
x. classic ecnomists (Smith, Malthus, Mill, etc.)

contemporary sociology:
Sociology: A Very Short Introduction by Steve Bruce
Central Problems in Social Theory by Anthony Giddens

critique of technology:
The Technological Society by Jacques Ellul
Technics and Civilization by Lewis Mumford

critical theory


  1. A Very Short Introduction to Critical Theory
    Introducing Critical Theory
  2. Culture and Materialism by Raymond Williams
    • intro to Verso Books Radical Thinkers series
      Critical Theory Today by Lois Tyson
      Left Hemisphere: Mapping Contemporary Theory by Verso Books
      *. ideas of Marx, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Freud, Lacan, and more?

s/1. Marx: A Very Short Introduction by Peter Singer

core critical theory:
*. an interview with Rick Roderick
*. The Self Under Siege: Philosophy In The Twentieth Century by Rick Roderick (also available through The Great Courses)

  1. Critical Theory: Selected Essays by Max Horkheimer
    • especially “Traditional and Critical Theory”
  2. Habermas: A Very Short Introduction by James Finlayson
  3. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere by Jurgen Habermas
    4?. Eclipse of Reason by Max Horkheimer
    • leads to Dialectic of Enlightenment, but maybe not needed
  4. Dialectic of Enlightenment by Theodore Adorno and Max Horkheimer
    • leads to Habermas
  5. Critique of Instrumental Reason: Lectures and Essays Since the End of World War II (Verso Books Radical Thinkers) by Max Horkheimer
    • more simple material
  6. One-Dimensional Man by Herbert Marcuse
  7. The Culture Industry [essays] by Theodore Adorno
    • maybe should read Tocqueville: A Very Short Introduction first
      ?. Minima Moralia by Theodore Adorno
      New Left Review journal
      ?. On the Logic of the Social Sciences by Jurgen Habermas
      ?. MIT Press’s Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought series
      • seems to continue elaborating around Habermas’s subjects: some combination of critical theory, pragmatism, communication, and public life

Responses to Dialectic of Enlightenment, One-Dimensional Man, instrumental rationality and whatever that opposes it (nature? individual self-organization?):
Rick Roderick’s’ lectures on Marcuse and Habermas
Alan Watts: The Discipline of Zen
Alan Watts: Buddhism and Science

Freudo-Marxism in critical theory:

  1. The Art of Being by Erich Fromm
    • out of interest, and out of order
  2. Escape from Freedom by Erich Fromm
  3. Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud by Herbert Marcuse
  4. The Sane Society by Erich Fromm

Post-Marxism and contemporary critical theorists:
it includes Althusser, David Harvey, Slavoj Zizek, Jameson, Derrida, Baudrillard, Badiou, Hardt and Negri, some of whom are elsewhere on this page, and if it is too large thrown under contemporary totalities, also the wiki for Post-Marxism for a longer list of Post-Marxists
Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses by Louis Althusser

fun in critical theory:

  1. The Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord
    x/2. Critique of Everyday Life by Henri Lefebvre
    • 900 pages, no thanks
  2. Revolution of Everyday Life by Raoul Vaneigem

aesthetics in critical theory:

  1. The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Walter Benjamin
    • leads to Understanding Media by Herbert Marshall McLuhan
    • which in turn leads to The System of Objects, The Ecstasy of Communication, Simulations by Jean Baudrillard
  2. Aesthetics and Politics (Verso Books Radical Thinkers series) by people from the The Frankfurt School
  3. Walter Benjamin’s Archive: Images, Texts, Signs (Verso Books) by Walter Benjamin
  4. Aesthetic Theory by Theodor Adorno

other critical things:
The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon

philosophy of social science:
?. On the Logic of the Social Sciences by Jurgen Habermas
?. The New Science by Giambattista Vico

————- (end of critical theory)

selected contemporary political philosophy


an anti-state communism curriculum
Semiotext(e) / Interventions series


  1. AK Press Working Classics series
  2. Reddit’s anarchy101 canon
  3. a goodreads list
    • On Anarchism by Noam Chomsky
    • Anarchism by Emma Goldman
    • Direct Action: An Ethnography by David Graeber
      ?. Wikipedia list of books about anarchism
    • What is Property? by Proudhon
    • Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell
    • The Kingdom of God is Within You by Leo Tolstoy
    • etc.


  1. Autonomia: Post-Political Politics by Sylvère Lotringer
    Empire by Negri and Hardt
    • leads to two more books in the series
  2. The Soul at Work: From Alienation to Autonomy by Franco Bifo Berardi
    • seems especially interesting

anarchist anthropology and cases of autonomous societies, especially in Asia-Pacific:

  1. The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist History of Upland Southeast Asia by James C. Scott
    • also Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance
    • also Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts
    • also Two Cheers for Anarchism: Six Easy Pieces on Autonomy, Dignity and Meaningful Work and Play
  2. Society Against the State: Essays in Political Anthropology by Pierre Clastres
  3. Chronicle of the Guayaki Indians by Pierre Clastres

self-organization (the philosophy of organization?):

  1. The Timeless Way of Building by Christopher Alexander
    • leads to A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander
    • leads to The Nature of Order series by Christopher Alexander
  2. essays that involve “spontaneous order” by Michael Polanyi

post-scarcity economy and other utopias


  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degrowth
  2. The Ascent of Humanity by Charles Eisenstein
    • leads to Sacred Economics, lived in Taiwan
  3. The Zeitgeist Movement Defined: Realizing a New Train of Thought
  4. The Best That Money Can’t Buy: Beyond Politics, Poverty & War
    Sacred Economics: Money, Gift, and Society in the Age of Transition by Charles Eisenstein

contemporary totalities

WARNING: for use in prison only

  1. The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt
    • looks great, but can probably skip to Harvey
  2. The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change by David Harvey
  3. Architecture as Metaphor by Kojin Karatini
  4. Parallax View by Slavoj Zizek
  5. Transcritique: On Kant and Marx by Kojin Karatini

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro

classic philosophy

WARNING: aside from Hume, Kant, Dewey, and maybe an intro to Roy Bhasker, these may be useless

classic (and some contemporary):
history of philosophy:
*The Great Ideas of Philosophy by Daniel N. Robinson a la The Great Courses
A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton
*A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell
*A New History of Western Philosophy by Anthony Kenny
A Short History of Chinese Philosophy by Feng YouLan

Philosophy: The Classics published by Nigel Warburton (Routledge)

The epistemological readings from Contemporary Civilization class syllabus (a part of Columbia’s Core Curriculum) and the epistemology section of reddit’s philosophy reading list
*. The Problems of Philosophy by Bertrand Russell


  1. On the Nature of Things by Lucretius

rationalism, [British] empiricism, direct realism, and Kant:
*. Discourse on the Method and Meditations on the First Philosophy by Descartes [rationalism]
?. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding by Locke [empiricism]
?. Berkeley [empiricism]

  1. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding by David Hume empiricism]
    • maybe need to read Locke’s essay first, but try this first anyway
      ?. Inquiry into the Human Mind by Thomas Reid [direct realism]
  2. The Critique of Pure Reason by Kant
    • the Wikipedia article seems to suffice: the historical bits, Transcendental Aesthetic, and Transcendental Analytic
      ?. Mill


  1. Having an Experience [essay] by John Dewey
    • leads to Experience and Nature, Art as Experience, Experience and Education, Democracy and Education (though, these are super obvious ideas)
    • personal choice
  2. Art as Experience by John Dewey
    • personal choice
  3. “How to Make Our Ideas Clear” by Charles Pierce
    • foundation of canon, maybe from some essay collection
  4. Pragmatism by William James
    • concise lecture on the main concept
  5. this excellent Wikipedia article on Instrumentalism contains Dewey and Popper debate
  6. Pragmatism: An Introduction by Michael Bacon
    • surveys pragmatism and the future of it (neo-pragmatism, etc.)
    • can’t find
  7. American Philosophy before Pragmatism by Russell B. Goodman
    • possible alternative?
      ?. The Social Psychology of George Herbert Mead edited by Anselm Strauss
      ?. Mind, Self, and Society by George Herbert Mead
      ?. Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness
      • precursor to process philosophy
        ?. An Introduction to Metaphysics by Henri Bergson
        ?. Matter and Memory by Henri Bergson
      • Bergson’s best, doubles as film theory


  1. Consequences Of Pragmatism: Essays 1972-1980 by Richard Rorty
    • leads to Philosophy and Social Hope (essays) by Richard Rorty

critical realism:

  1. Critical Realism: An Introduction to Roy Bhaskar’s Philosophy by Andrew Collier
  2. Structure, Agency and the Internal Conversation by Margaret Scotford Archer
    • could not find


  1. Meaning by Michael Polanyi
  2. Personal Knowledge by Michael Polanyi
  3. Tacit Dimension by Michael Polanyi

political philosophy:
The political readings from Contemporary Civilization class syllabus (a part of Columbia’s Core Curriculum) and the political section of reddit’s philosophy reading list

moral philosophy (aka [normative] ethics):

Philosophy of Life, Existentialism, etc.:

resources for general contemporary Left politics:
a very good goodreads list

resources for urban planning:

resources for critical theory:

  1. a goodreads list
    • great list, unorganized

reddit reading list for critical theory

The Verso Undergraduate Reading List

list of radical left publications

Critical Theory for beginners reading list

The School of Life

5 critical theory lecture series blog post

MIT book series

goodreads list to frame thinking

1000 little hammers, contains some ebooks on critical theory, especially Situationist International

resources for art and aesthetics: