It’s that time of year again: over the next week or so, we’ll be running a series of posts detailing what 3:AM’s editorial team are reading over the summer. We’ve recently recruited some brilliant new editors, including Joanna Walsh and K. Thomas Kahn, so you’ll be hearing from them, as well as from other 3:AM regulars. I’ll kick off the series (and being as I’m mainly reading academic books at the moment, I hope this won’t be too boring!)
Right now I’m halfway through Knox Peden’s Spinoza Contra Phenomenology (Stanford), a bold reinterpretation of the intellectual history of postwar French philosophy. Peden’s project is a little like that of Tom Eyers‘ last book, at least insofar as both are concerned to reconstruct the neglected legacy of rationalism in recent French thought.
Raymond Geuss’s latest essay collection, A World Without Why (Princeton) is as excellent as his others, and often bleakly witty (for a brief taste of that, watch this video clip.) If you’ve never read Geuss, his demolition of Rawls in Philosophy and Real Politics is well worth your time. And his undergraduate lectures on Nietzsche recently went online.
I’ve also been dipping into Roberto Casati and Achille Varzi’s Holes (MIT), an exploration of the philosophical problems raised by, as the authors put it, “absences, nonentities, nothingnesses, things that are not there.” I bought this as a result of my research into Gordon Lish–it’s one of many interesting texts he recommended to his students.
Perhaps predictably, binge-watching True Detective led me to look into the German neurophilosopher Thomas Metzinger; I’ve just finished his The Ego Tunnel (Basic Books), and would like to find the time to try his much-discussed magnum opus, Being No One (MIT), though I doubt I’ll understand it…
I also want to point people toward Peter Lamarque‘s The Opacity of Narrative (Rowman & Littlefield), a characteristically lucid and incisive read, from one of the more interesting analytic philosophers of art. While I’m at it, do read the lovely essay on Eric Rohmer that Lamarque co-wrote with Peter Goldie.
Earlier in the summer I re-read Peter de Bolla’s Art Matters (Harvard), which was so good that I’ve now ordered his new book, The Architecture of Concepts (Fordham), on the conceptual history of human rights. I’ll probably complement that with Samuel Moyn’s new essay collection, Human Rights and the Uses of History (Verso).
Several friends have recommended Howard Eiland and Michael Jennings’ Walter Benjamin: A Critical Life (Harvard) so, time permitting, that’s near the top of my “to read” list. I try to keep up with the best books on Benjamin; Eli Friedlander‘s last one was a recent favourite of mine.
Over the last few years I’ve also become increasingly interested in the sociological and institutional contexts of contemporary writing, so I’m keen to read Sarah Brouillette‘s new book, Literature and the Creative Economy (Stanford).
Fiction-wise, I enjoyed reading Marcos Girralt Torrente’s Paris (Hispabooks), and I’m looking forward to getting lost in Gerald Murnane’s A Million Windows (Giramondo). Barton Midwood‘s almost completely forgotten short story collection Phantoms (Dutton, 1970) was a lot of fun, and May-Lan Tan‘s new collection, Things to Make and Break (CB Editions) was very impressive indeed.
Finally, I hear at some point there’ll be a reissue of Jason Schwartz‘s extraordinary debut, A German Picturesque (Knopf, 1998), with a new foreword by Ben Marcus. That’s one to watch out for: a modern classic.
First posted: Monday, June 30th, 2014.