Immediacy, or The Style of Too Late Capitalism

Immediacy, or The Style of Too Late Capitalism

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Why speed, flow, and direct expression now dominate cultural style

Contemporary cultural style boosts transparency and instantaneity. These are values absorbed from our current economic conditions of "disintermediation": cutting out the middleman. Like Uber, but for art. Immediacy names this style to make sense of what we lose when the contradictions of twenty-first-century capitalism demand that aesthetics negate mediation. Surging realness as an aesthetic program synchs with the economic imperative to intensify circulation when production stagnates. "Flow" is the ultimate twenty-first-century buzzword, but speedy circulation grinds art down to the nub. And the bad news is that political turmoil and social challenges require more mediation. Collective will, inspiring ideas, and deliberate construction are the only way out, but our dominant style forgoes them. Considering original streaming TV, popular literature, artworld trends, and academic theories, Immediacy explains the recent obsession with immersion and today's intolerance of representation, and points to alternative forms in photography, TV, novels, and constructive theory that prioritize distance, impersonality, and big ideas instead.

Reviews

  • This brilliantly written, wild ride of a book is an enthralling, gloves-off critical intervention urgently needed in this moment.

    Jonathan Crary, author of 24/7 and Scorched Earth
  • Kornbluh offers a swift -- and much needed -- kick to one of the most insidious symptoms of our time: the demand for the now, the immediately felt, the one-off. Armed with a strong imperative: "Think!" which she reiterates in an uncommonly rich vocabulary and from a variety of perspectives, she succeeds at the very least in holding up this runaway trend. Together with her previous critiques of capitalism, Immediacy establishes Kornbluh as one of the most inventive new voices in the field.

    Joan Copjec, Brown University, author of Read My Desire
  • Anna Kornbluh brilliantly reinvigorates critique for an age drowning under the deluge of self-presentation. Embracing structure over style, representation over personalization, and collectivity over narcissism, she creates a space for thinking -- the necessary space for politics.

    Jodi Dean, author of The Communist Horizon