The Critic: The Addiction to Sense [as in "meaning"]

[ Fri. Dec. 26. 2014 ]

[ED. NOTE: By The Late John Brockman, my first book, was published in hardcover in 1969. A collected works edition including two subsequent works was published in paperback in 1973 under the title Afterwords. In November, HarperCollins issued a new e-book edition in the US and UK, and S. Fischer Verlag published a German translation (Nachworte), which surprisingly, 42 years after first publication, was featured in the "Year in Review in Books" article in the December 26th edition of the German magazine Der Spiegel. The piece was written by the eminent German literary and cultural critic Georg Diez.]

Year in Review 2014 in books

[Translation:] 2014 was an uncertain year, a year of turmoil.

What will this year be in hindsight ?
What do books say about that?
A look back.

...The history of Lucretius is thus in turn the shadow side of the story of Reason in this part of the world, which some necessarily refer to as the West [the Occident, as opposed to the Orient]: His revolution was one of curiosity and knowledge, a kind of humanism, which invented Man free of the laws of power and bound only by the laws of Nature—the anti-thesis to this is a philosophy of Anti-Humanism, which John Brockman describes in his book "Afterwords" [published in English as "By The Late John Brockman"], which originally appeared in the 1970s, now for the first time in its own timelessness in German.

Perspectives between lies, superstitions and narcissism

Because the world, as the then universal thinker and today's Über Networker Brockman sees it, is a world in which reason, truth, freedom, and progress are only illusions of the human mind, which is addicted to meaning, that it likes to produce on its own. They are thoughts that are born of the cybernetic philosophy and envision the governance of machines, meaning the computer and artificial intelligence.

They are not thoughts which want to console, but these are not thoughts either that aim to spread fear. On the contrary: by the way that he thinks about the History of Man in reverse, from its ending, Brockman opens up perspectives which allow a different view of the world between the lies, superstition, the narcissism and the madness/delusion which are part of being human.

Like Lucretius. Like Mbembe. Like Lévi-Strauss. Like Haenel. Because this is what it is all about, otherwise we would not have to read books at all. ...


[German original]

Georg Diez is a writer at Der Spiegel & Spiegel Online; Author of weekly and widely read column "Der Kritiker"; Former Cultural Editor at Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Sonntags Zeitung and Die Zeit.

After Brockman: A Symposium (1973) A book of contemporaneous essays by fellow writers on the collected works edition.

"Ever Brockman": An Essay by Hans Ulrich Obrist (2014) The preface to the 2014 edition by the curator of London's Serpentine Gallery.

By The Late John Brockman, HarperCollins, 2014 (Amazon-Kindle edition)

Nachworte, S. Fischer Verlag, 2014 (