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Critique of Rationality

Judgement and Creativity from Benjamin to Merleau-Ponty

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John E. O'Brien

In his Critique of Rationality, John Eustice O’Brien proposes a fascinating rectification for the distortion of technical necessity in Western Society due to unbridled instrumental reason. He begins with a review of this issue first raised by the Early German Romantics as discussed by Isaiah Berlin and Walter Benjamin. Following French social philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s radically different apperceptive epistemology, he explores the possibility of a social world in which each is anchored by a préobjective disposition to meaning based on the intersubjective presence of all. This justifies the postulate of aesthetic-consciousness as the site of socialization in communities of meaning, as a frame for judgment and creativity. The struggle must continue for awakening that consciousness if an open society is to be realized.

Peripheral Visions in the Globalizing Present

Space, Mobility, Aesthetics

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Edited by Esther Peeren, Hanneke Stuit and Astrid Van Weyenberg

This volume sheds new light on how today’s peripheries are made, lived, imagined and mobilized in a context of rapidly advancing globalization. Focusing on peripheral spaces, mobilities and aesthetics, it presents critical readings of, among others, Indian caste quarters, the Sahara, the South African backyard and European migration, as well as films, novels and artworks about marginalized communities and repressed histories. Together, these readings insist that the peripheral not only needs more visibility in political, economic and cultural terms, but is also invaluable for creating alternative perspectives on the globalizing present. Peripheral Visions combines sociological, cultural, literary and philosophical perspectives on the periphery, and highlights peripheral innovation and futurity to counter the lingering association of the peripheral with stagnation and backwardness.

J.G. Ballard

Landscapes of Tomorrow

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Edited by Richard Brown, Christopher Duffy and Elizabeth Stainforth

An innovative volume of interdisciplinary essays on the significant British writer J. G. Ballard (1930-2009), exploring the physical, cultural and intertextual landscapes in several key novels with a central focus on The Atrocity Exhibition (1970), one of the most challenging texts in contemporary literature. Contributors include established critics of Ballard alongside newcomers. Different spatial concepts underpin the essays, from the landscapes of Ballard’s youth in Shanghai and his life in suburban London, to nuclear testing spaces and outer space exploration. Figurative locations typical of Ballard’s work are explored, including the beach, the motorway, the high-rise and the shopping mall. Textual spaces are explored through Ballard’s affiliation with modernist literary forms, including surrealist prose writing and collage, and poetic romanticism.