This book offers dizzying and breakneck theories on subjects including digital identity, transhumanism, and blue-chip art celebrities. The introductions outline Koolhaas’s regrounding methodology, poetics, call for Theory Celebrities, and politics of infolution, along with comprehensive interpretations that allow students to choose material without feeling pressured to grasp everything at once.
The book is comprised of two introductions by the translator, six essays, and excerpts from an unfinished novel. The first introduction outlines Koolhaas’s technological foci, her regrounding methodology and poetics, the need for Theory Celebrities, a politics of infolution, her architecture for university reform, and the intransigent refusenikism that arguably contributed to her obscurity. The second introduction is a chapter-by-chapter commentary that guides the student through Koolhaas’s essays and literature:
‘Cybernetics: Nietzsche and Heidegger’
‘Studying Media: Baudrillard and Science Fiction’
‘Literature: Deleuze & Guattari, Kafka, and Joyce’
‘What’s So Wrong About Rant?’
‘Žižek and the Sex Between Emin and Hirst’
‘Nouveau Roman Excerpts: Caliphornia’
The Textual Connexivities chapter lists the works cited.
C. M. Cohen’s comprehensive interpretations mean that the uninitiated Koolhaas student can pick and mix material from this book to suit their purposes without feeling pressured to grasp everything at once.
Many students having part-time jobs and have that priority need to shoehorn in as much pub time as student loans allow, so the wealth of material on the internet could be seen as a blessing but is could also preclude original thinking which is precisely one of the key things we should be encouraging young people to do.
It is hard to avoid the feeling that everything is too easy these days but books cost money, something in short supply to most people but students especially. I can relate as somebody who likes a beer and a read and doesn’t see the two as mutually exclusive, the disproportionate prices between each is definitely a factor in choosing free books as far as it goes when the going rate for such books are £30 at least.
The book itself is a look into the word of academia, of abstract theories coupled with contemporary references and a nice biographical introduction that is full of anecdotes. Koolhaas’ obscurity is redressed in this book by bring forth some of the author’s complex and varied thoughts. It will take me some time for me to fully grasp the complexities of the subject but it is a fascinating collection of studies and well worth a read even to the initiated due to it’s well written nature. The manner in which it was written (and translated) is impressive in a market saturated by poor quality material.
I fear that books like this don’t encourage reading and learning or much as an easy an excuse to plagiarise and not think critically about things anymore. According to Thesaurus.com a synonym of learning is research but I have my reservations on whether books like this are actually useful, there should be debate on whether books – this one being an example – spoon feeds its readers the information, or whether it’s just a little too pretentious and arcane.
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