Two new books reviewed at Symposium

The first is on Jessica Whyte’s excellent Catastrophe and Redemption: The Political Thought of Giorgio Agamben, which provides the needed background for Agamben’s sources, especially in Marxist thought, as well as a defense of his major claims that takes seriously various critiques since Homo Sacer appeared.

The second is on my colleague Sean McGrath’s The Dark Ground of Spirit: Schelling and the Unconscious. It’s a review that goes through well McGrath’s project in that book, which along with providing the basis for a Schellingian psychoanalysis on McGrath’s terms, also provides introduction both to pre-Freudian psychoanalysis and post-Freedom essay Schelling.

Robin James on Bennett’s “Vibrant Matter”

I owe an article in the next couple of weeks on the new materialisms and darned if RJ doesn’t hit on some of what I planned to discuss in her  initial thoughts on Bennett’s “Vibrant Matter”. It what I’ve outlined of that article thus far, I make the move to investigating through recent work in biopolitics any supposed innocent notions of vibrancy and so on, and RJ herself comes at it from multiple directions. Since I’m late on another article I need to get done tonight, I’ll leave it at that, though it also matches with stuff I’m putting together on the problem of general indifference and anti-hierarchical thinking that is its own form of exclusion. (Bennett–James uses a quote I was going to make much of myself–thus switches to health as a quasi-political category, and this is also something one finds in all manner of vitalists.) Anyway give it a read (she always has a good ear so to speak for the musical resonances of such terms as vibrancy and so on). I have an overview of Bennett in Speculative Realism: Problems and Prospects, btw, as well as a section on Grosz’s work, which RJ has also been looking at. Of course, there’s that classic State of Sovereignty, in particular the chapters taking on the discourses of Arendt and Foucault in terms of the politicization of life (or rather, that all definitions of life are political).