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General Intellects: Twenty-One Thinkers for the Twenty First Century

A guide to the thinkers and ideas that will shape the future

What happened to the public intellectuals that used to challenge and inform us? Who is the Sartre or De Beauvoir of the internet age? General Intellects argues we no longer have such singular figures, but there are, instead, general intellects whose writing could, if read collectively, explain our times. Covering topics such as culture, politics, work, technology, and the Anthropocene, each chapter is a concise account of an individual thinker, providing useful context and connections to the work of the others. McKenzie Wark’s distinctive readings are appreciations, but are nonetheless critical of how neoliberal universities militate against cooperative intellectual work that endeavors to understand and also change the world.

The thinkers included are Amy Wendling, Kojin Karatani, Paolo Virno, Yann Moulier Boutang, Maurizio Lazzarato, Franco “Bifo” Berardi, Angela McRobbie, Paul Gilroy, Slavoj Žižek, Jodi Dean, Chantal Mouffe, Wendy Brown, Judith Butler, Hiroki Azuma, Paul B. Préciado, Wendy Chun, Alexander Galloway, Timothy Morton, Quentin Meillassoux, Isabelle Stengers, and Donna Haraway.

Blog

  • On Nick Land

    In General Intellects there was only space to cover twenty-one influential theorists. I'm often asked why this or that figure is not in it.

    My answer is usually that I think people could make their own lists and do their own attempts at compression to create brief, functional accounts of key concept-makers.

    But somehow it seems I'm not done yet. Here's an attempt to compress the work of Nick Land — one I'm most often asked about. And certainly one of the most controversial. 

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  • Eduardo Viveiros de Castro: In and Against the Human

    In General Intellects, I offer condensed versions of twenty-one leading thinkers across a range of fields. but I did not include figures in anthropology, as I am still working my way through reading in what's going on there. I have been finding some exciting stuff. Elsewhere, I wrote about Anna Tsing and Achille Mbembe. Here's my report on the work of Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, author of the brilliant Cannibal Metaphysics, including notes on a recent collaboration with the Brazilian philosopher Déborah Danowski, called The Ends of the World

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  • General Intellects: how public intellectuals of the twenty first century can write and think against their own commodification

    What happened to the public intellectuals that used to challenge and inform us? Who is the Sartre or De Beauvoir of the internet age? The decline of the public intellectual has to do with intellectual labor being absorbed into the production process. General Intellects argues we no longer have such singular figures, but there are, instead, general intellects whose writing could, if read collectively, explain our times. McKenzie Wark presented the idea behind General Intellects at a recent lecture at Virtual Futures in London. This is the first half of his talk.

    General Intellects, along with McKenzie Wark's other books Molecular Red, The Beach Beneath the Street, and The Spectacle of Disintegration are all 40% off until Sunday, June 11 at midnight UTC. All discounts will be taken at check out.

     

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