In the house(s) I grew up in, my parents kept a modest but sufficient library of classic novels, books on travel and books on new-age trends, quite a few WWII historical accounts, a bunch of JFK conspiracy theory crap, approximately 25 years worth of National Geographic back issues, espionage thrillers, cookbooks, a few Bibles, and a series of tomes on different important artists. A rather handsomely packaged set, (leather bound slipcovers with full-color plates of major works embedded and embossed on the sleeves), that were sent once a month until my father determined that either; 1. We had reached a point of cultural saturation, or, (more likely), 2. He no longer wished to pay $29.99 a month on books he had no intention of reading.
In this series I learned about Picasso and DaVinci, Hopper and Pollack, even a little about Rockwell and Degas. However, one book stood out, and when I moved into my first apartment and the set was offered to me, it was the only one I took. The subject, Marcel Duchamp.
Duchamp became a great influence in my life, and recently I began reading Octavio Paz's essay "Marcel Duchamp: Appearance Stripped Bare". Needless to say it's pretty heavy stuff, all about Duchamp's theories and vision and persona. Paz and Duchamp were good friends and he manages to give quite a bit of insight into the life of the man that gave us meta-irony, Dada, post-cubism, surrealism, ready-mades, an-artistic gestures, "Nude Descending a Staircase", and arguably changed the way in which we look at the world.
If you aren't familiar with Marcel's work, do yourself a favor and check him out.
If you haven't read Octavio Paz, he's written some amazing poetry and fiction in addition to high-brow essays, and I would highly recommend his work.
Ben Chasny would probably back me up on that one. As Six Organs of Admittance, crazy Ben has done his share of breaking new ground artistically, blowing minds around the world with his fractured psychedelic folk melancholia. He wrote a whole album for Octavio, and more recently tangled guitar necks with Hiroyuki Usui of Fushitsusha as August Born.
Magical Power Mako is friends with Hiroyuki, and way back in the early 70s, he was keeping Dada alive while recording and assembling Hapmoniym. Similar in concept to Faust Tapes, the first 10 installments of Hapmoniym are fascinating sound collages of solo guitar, early electronics, field recordings and traditional Japanese folk instrumentation. This is #2.