Experiments Against Reality: The Fate of Culture in the Postmodern Age

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9781566633352: Experiments Against Reality: The Fate of Culture in the Postmodern Age
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Experiments Against Reality displays the sophistication, breadth of knowledge, and clarity of argument that have made Mr. Kimball one of the most trenchant critics of our contemporary culture. He begins by considering the influential poet and theorist T. E. Hulme, and shows how the work of Eliot, Auden, Wallace Stevens, Robert Musil, Elias Canetti, and others can be seen as efforts to articulate a convincing alternative to the intellectual and spiritual desolations of the age. Turning to the philosophical tradition, Mr. Kimball suggests how figures from Mill and Nietzsche to Bertrand Russell, Wittgenstein, Sartre, Heidegger, Foucault, and Roger Scruton have addressed—or in many cases evaded—the defining moral imperatives of modernity. Finally he steps back to consider more generally the career of contemporary culture—the trivializing nature of the contemporary art world; the academic attack on historical truth and scientific rationality; the fate of the two cultures controversy. Experiments Against Reality offers continuing evidence of Mr. Kimball's stature as one of our most important cultural critics. Named an International Book of the Year by Mary Lefkowitz, Times Literary Supplement. A scathing critic but one whose tirades are usually justified.... His intellectual rigor is refreshing. Experiments Against Reality demonstrates what criticism can be if you take away all the theoretical scaffolding inherent in, say, a deconstructionist, structuralist or feminist reading. —Catherine Saint Louis, New York Times Book Review

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About the Author:

Roger Kimball is managing editor of the New Criterion and an art critic for the London Spectator. His other books include Lives of the Mind, Experiments Against Reality, The Long March, and Tenured Radicals. He lives in South Norwalk, Connecticut.

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Like his New Criterion colleague Hilton Kramer, Kimball writes forcefully and fluently about the intellectual currents that affect the arts. Like Kramer, he upholds high modernism, as epitomized by the moral seriousness of T. S. Eliot, subject of the warmest piece in this book. Like Kramer's Twilight of the Intellectuals (1999), this book contains originally freestanding essays that share a common theme. Whereas the theme of Kramer's Twilight was American liberal intellectuals' obstinate tolerance of Communism, Kimball's collection is concerned with various forms of the denial of reality in modern literature and philosophy. Because his subjects are greater artists and intellects than most of Kramer's in Twilight , Kimball's is a more engaging book. Kimball is as keenly gratifying as he is because, though he rues the intellectual and spiritual mistakes of such figures as J. S. Mill and Nietzsche, he grants their personal weaknesses and literary strengths. Even when his subjects have very few redeeming characteristics--Sartre, or Foucault, for instance--Kimball doesn't demonize them as he demolishes their vicious ideas. Superb intellectual journalism. Ray Olson
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9781566634304: Experiments Against Reality: The Fate of Culture in the Postmodern Age

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Publisher: Ivan R. Dee, 2002
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