A Raging Peace

by Marc Farrant

The music and people David Stubbs gathers under the term ‘Krautrock’ mark precisely this definitive question of post-war German life: how to start afresh? Their musical innovations similarly bear testament to the inextricability of geography, of nations and wars, whilst also proffering a radical interrogation of these tyrannical logics. Krautrock is portrayed as blurring the stable boundaries upon which arbitrary identities are forged: ‘Man–Technik–Natur.’ No Führers. Transformation and renewal. Stasis and kinesis. Combinations best expressed, in music journalist Julian Cope’s phrase, as ‘a raging peace’. Krautrock was a many-headed Hydra, whose gestation exemplifies precisely the contingency of foundations that pervades and energises its most vertiginous moments. [read full essay]

Extractive Institutions

David Blacker, The Falling Rate of Learning and the Neoliberal Endgame

reviewed by Calum Watt

Last November saw the coalition government privatise almost £900 million of student debt. The debt comprised loans taken out during the 1990s, and so represents only a small portion of the total value of student loans. This total is estimated at £40 billion, all of which the government has indicated it plans to sell off. If you think this is just another innocuous step in the government’s project of ‘reducing the deficit’, The Falling Rate of Learning and the Neoliberal Endgame may be... [read more]

Philosophy’s Unworkable Poles

Andrew Bowie, Adorno and the Ends of Philosophy

reviewed by Tom Hastings

In Adorno and the Ends of Philosophy Andrew Bowie attempts several, equally ambitious things. Firstly, a synoptic reading of the state of contemporary philosophy details the ways in which the idealist traditions Theodor Adorno spent his writing life attacking have suffered a radical narrowing of perspective in recent decades. Bowie’s central claim is that aspects of Adorno’s work deemed too difficult or exaggerated to implement practically in philosophical debates, might be reclaimed to... [read more]

Attractive Additional Features

Graham Harman, Bells and Whistles: More Speculative Realism

reviewed by Sarah De Sanctis

The title chosen by Graham Harman for his latest book couldn't have been more appropriate. It is a collection of 16 essays, blog pieces, interviews and lectures that constitute (I quote from the Oxford English Dictionary) 'attractive additional features' to his theory. What you get, in short, is precisely more speculative realism, so if you're new to the subject this is probably not the right place to start. The title also refers to the different kinds of writings included in the book: bells... [read more]

Moka Aesthetics

Jane Forsey, The Aesthetics of Design

reviewed by Jeffrey Petts

Look around you and, according to Jane Forsey, you’ll see three different sorts of made things: art, craft, and design. Forsey’s contention in The Aesthetics of Design is that ‘design’ – as a class of things in the world – does not get the philosophic attention it warrants and her goal is to make design visible to philosophy through understanding our aesthetic interest in it. So, for example, she sees an original painting, a gift from the artist; a hand-made desk by a craftsman; and... [read more]

‘Privacy is for paedos’

Josh Cohen, The Private Life: Why We Remain in the Dark

reviewed by Helen Tyson

‘Privacy is for paedos,’ announced the former News of the World journalist Paul McMullan in November 2011. Giving evidence before the Leveson Inquiry into the culture, practice and ethics of the press, McMullan captured what seemed to be the driving force behind tabloid and celebrity culture. ‘Fundamentally,’ he insisted, ‘no one else needs it. Privacy is evil … it brings out hypocrisy.’ The private life, according to McMullan, is a dark shelter for the worst imaginable criminal... [read more]

Beyond Good and Evil

Margaret Atwood, MaddAddam

reviewed by Robert M. Detman

Margaret Atwood suggests that her works, grounded in science, posit a possible reality, and thus she prefers to call them ‘speculative fiction’ in lieu of ‘science fiction’ or any other popular alternative. The MaddAddam trilogy exemplifies her notion that ‘We’ve always been good at letting cats out of bags and genies out of bottles, we just haven’t been very good at putting them back in again.’ The sentiment is particularly relevant today as technology continues to advance... [read more]

A Hyperbolic Fudge

Federico Campagna, The Last Night: Anti-Work, Atheism, Adventure

reviewed by Jamie Mackay

Almost 35 years have passed since the brutal repression of the Italian autonomist movement by a Catholic-Communist monster-state but its capacity to provoke the wrath of ideologists across the political spectrum is as palpable as ever. The playful tactics and rhetoric of the new European protest movements, particularly their unified rejection of a homogeneous identity, demonstrate just how enduring the influence of this adventurous insurrection continues to be for those taking up the fight for... [read more]

Prometheanism and the Precautionary Principle

David Keith, A Case for Climate Engineering

reviewed by Nick Srnicek

To put it mildly, David Keith’s A Case for Climate Engineering is a timely book. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has recently released its latest report on the state of climate science, issuing new warnings about the severity of climate change. At the same time, observers are worried that a political stalemate is likely to emerge from the Warsaw meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). We have new certainty about the coming... [read more]

Productive Tension

Laura Frost, The Problem With Pleasure: Modernism and its Discontents

reviewed by Ruth Jackson

In his Roots of Romanticism (1999), Isaiah Berlin set out the central tenets of the Enlightenment project in 18th-century Europe: That all genuine questions can be answered, that if a question cannot be answered it is not a question;… that all these answers are knowable, that they can be discovered by means which can be learnt and taught to other persons;… [and] that all the answers must be compatible with one another. In our 21st-century European context, we know better than to be... [read more]

The Audacity of Grave-Robbery

Andrew Greig, Fair Helen

reviewed by Minoo Dinshaw

The title page of Andrew Greig’s latest novel Fair Helen announces that we have to deal with ‘a veritable account of “Fair Helen of Kirkconnel Lea”, scrieved by Harry Langton’. This may seem of a piece with the unpretentious gorgeousness of the dust-jacket and the faintly Tolkienian map of ‘the Borderlands’. But Harry Langton is a necessary as well as an enjoyable creation. Without him, Greig might find himself exposed in the intimidating territory of retelling one of the most... [read more]