Open your head

In June 2015, twenty-two years after Frank Zappa’s death in 1993 and just before dying herself, his widow Gail released Dance Me This, his last completed album. While he was alive, Zappa’s each release mauled a fan’s idea of ‘good music’, exposing a previous identity as partial and bigoted, trashing personal taste in order to […]

Helen Macfarlane

Helen macfarlane Independent object David black and ben watson Talking of the destructive nature of egoistic desire, its satisfaction that the other is nothing, Hegel made room for further development, an empirical moment which might surprise those who think German Idealism only ever allowed for abstraction: ‘In this satisfaction, however, experience makes it [the simple […]

Rock as minimal modernism

Rock as minimal modernism Lou Reed, 1942–2013I wouldn’t recommend me as entertainment. Lou Reed, 1978It has acquired the status of a primal scene. 1964. A party in New York’s Lower East Side, the mythical site of the period. Terry Phillips, an executive at Pickwick Records, meets two ‘long-haired’ young men. Thinking they look the part, […]

Elementary

Ben Watson, Adorno for Revolutionaries, Unkant, London, 2011. 217 pp., £10.99 pb., 978 0 95681 760 0. David Cunningham In a much-cited March 1936 letter to Walter Benjamin, Adorno famously remarks of the separation between autonomous art and mass culture that, while both ‘bear the stigmata of capitalism’, and ‘both contain elements of change’, they […]

77 Reviews

REVIEWS Where is capitalism going? Eric Hobsbawm, Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century 1914-1991, Michael Joseph, London, 1994. xii + 627 pp., £19.95 hb., 07181 33072. Giovanni Arrighi, The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power and the Origins of Our Times, Verso, London, 1994. 416 pp., £39.95 hb., £14.95 pb., 1 85984915 6 hb., 1 […]

94 Reviews

Reviews Anti-Nazi musicology and the diminished seventhTheodor W. Adorno, Beethoven: The Philosophy of Music, ed. Rolf Tiedermann, trans. Edmund Jephcott, Polity Press, Cambridge, 1998. xii + 268 pp., £39.95 hb., 0 7456 1467 1. ^ Pamela M. Potter, Most German of the Arts: Musicology and Society from the Weimar Republic to the End of Hitlerʼs […]

97 Reviews

Reviews The tamagochi and the objet petit aSlavoj Žižek, The Žižek Reader, edited by Elizabeth and Edmond Wright, Blackwell, Oxford, 1999. xii + 332 pp., £55.00 hb., £15.99 pb., ISBN 0 631 21200 0 hb., 0 631 21201 9 pb. This is all delivered with such good humour that the critic stands disarmed. Anyone wishing […]

106 Reviews

Friedrich Schlegelʼs two-hundred-year-old fragment ʻNothing is more rarely the subject of philosophy than philosophy itselfʼ shows its age. Now, its inversion seems true. Whether through recognition that philosophyʼs self-legitimating critique of the unexcavated presuppositions of other disciplines threatens to prove itself wanting; or, through various concerns for philosophyʼs apparently imminent death (which philosophers frequently seem […]

109 Reviews

Reviews The tale of TedTed Honderich, Philosopher: A Kind of Life, Routledge, London, 2001. x + 441 pp., £20.00 hb., 0 415 23697 5. There has been a surprisingly close relationship between philosophy and autobiography ever since Augustine. Indeed, it could plausibly be argued that modern European philosophy begins with Descartesʼ first-hand account of how […]

116 Reviews

Born in the Ukraine in 1910, Raya Dunayesvskaya emigrated to the United States in her teens. By the age of twenty she was active on the American Left, her ability to read Russian giving her an advantage in interpreting the contradictory messages emerging from revolutionary Russia. She served as Trotskyʼs secretary when the exiled Bolshevik […]

122 Reviews

in Vaneigemʼs expressionist polemic. Here, you suffer jolt after jolt, as intriguing commentaries on particular rights finish, and another right is bannered in capitals across the page (in this, it recalls the experience of Hegelʼs Logic, where the expositions in smaller type – oral improvisations transcribed by his students – are more accessible than the […]

124 Reviews

Reviews ‘Human’Louis Althusser, The Humanist Controversy and Other Writings, ed. François Matheron, trans. G.M. Goshgarian, Verso, London and New York, 2003. lxii + 318 pp., £40.00 hb., £15.00 pb., 1 85984 507 X hb., 1 85984 408 1 pb. Martin Halliwell and Andy Mousley, Critical Humanisms: Humanist/Anti-Humanist Dialogues, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2003. 233 pp., […]

128 Reviews

Reviews ‘To be matter’Claudine Frank, ed., The Edge of Surrealism: A Roger Caillois Reader, Duke University Press, Durham NC, 2003. 416 pp., £17.95 pb., 0 82233 068 7. ^ In 1934 two men in Paris contemplated something new and wonderful. They had obtained a pair of Mexican jumping beans. The younger of the two wanted […]

129 Reviews

Reviews The hesitation waltzIan H. Birchall, Sartre against Stalinism, Berghahn, New York and London, 2004. xiii + 242 pp., £47.00 hb., £14.95 pb., 1 57181 621 6 hb., 1 57181 542 2 pb. As the adolescentʼs entrée into the world of ideas, existentialism has probably diminished a little since the Cureʼs 1978 ʻKilling an Arabʼ, […]

143 Reviews

The reception of Adorno in Britain and America has largely focused on Negative Dialectics and Aesthetic Theory, late works which accepted the tragedy of an ongoing betrayal of Marxism in the Soviet Union and an ongoing capitalism in the West. Hence those Adornoites who emphasize optimism of the will rather than pessimism of the intellect […]