This collection of essays offers a way of reading texts and testaments by suggesting that there is no dispute between critical skeptical thinking and our intuitive grasp of the opulent, shimmering matter that lies strewn all around us. One can wonder at the large forces of existence and yet colour such wonderment with a tenor of incredulity. That is how we deal with the ineradicable vehemence of life as participants and as observers. This could be called a counter-romantic way of approaching icons and images, confessions and treatises, journeys and turbulences.
Of the twenty-four essays collated here, several are close readings of a range of arts practices including literature, film and iconography. Others are about antinomian forms of political philosophy. Taken as a whole, the impulse of the essays is to do with the extraction of a certain utopian way of living, to weave ephemera into reality by and through which one hopes to catch the opulence of this our existence, without being overly optimistic.
Since art grapples with the ridiculous and the disgusting, the zany and the deadpan, the wrathful and the tenuous, its heretic possibilities are immense. It is this that the humanities must unleash against those who want to conserve harmonious social stratification and algorithmic disinterestedness.
The Counter-Romantic: An Introduction
The Speaker as the Listener
The Ecstatic Archaisms of Aurobindo Ghose
Bounty not Immersion
The Tamed Cynic and his Untamed Leaves
A Governing Tone of Stoic Regression
Fairly Directly to Death
An Empty Doublet, a Hat, and a Crooked Stick
The Aeolian School Balcony
The Diva and the Minister
Two Modes of Romance
The Abused Goddesses and the Fissures of Referentiality
Myths, Ephemera, Collective
The Picnic Managers
Anguish and Insurrection
This Beautiful Parable of the May-Be Land
On Tyranny and the Strauss-Kojève Correspondences
Principle in Times Contingent
The Crossover is in the Mind
That Sun-Craving Crane
The Opulence of Existence
Cover photo: Tarun Bhartiya. Cover design: Asad Zaidi.