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To mean, and to desire to say: Boris Groys reviewed in the Guardian

Huw Lemmey23 May 2012

In his essay on Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, Groys highlights a French linguistic quirk; the phrase "to mean" is the same as the phrase "to desire to say". Reviewing Groy's new book Introduction to Antiphilosophy, in which the essay is contained, Stuart Kelly suggests this irony sums up "anti-philosophy's conundrum".

Kelly finds Groy's new book to be more than an introduction, but rather a book of provocative essays he "would anyone already interested in critical theory and the avant garde", which tackle philosophers from Kierkegaard on whose "keynote, as Groys argues, is a commitment to Marx's dictum that philosophy had hitherto only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point was to change it."

Highlighting Groy's essay on Benjamin, a beautifully written study that "proposes an eyebrow-raising idea" that the thinker should be read as a theologian rather than a philosopher, Kelly finds the fascinating proposition that, whilst philosophers search for an unattainable truth, theologians commemorate a past moment forever slipping out of grasp.

The strongest essay for Kelly, however, is the "electrifying piece" on German writer Ernst Jünger, whose "uneasy" relationship with fascism and extreme conservatism disguise a position which equated to Italian futurism, and acts as a shadowy and dangerously misunderstood precursor to a post-humanism engendered by a networked, internet age.

Visit the Guardian to read the review in full.

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