A friend of mine argues that the collapse of Cultural Studies as an academic discipline in the UK was because of its own omnipresence. It seems that every broadsheet supplement you pick up now has an article speculating on fandom, consumption, people at play, etc... But, sadly, they’re not written by anyone of the calibre of Raymond Williams.
Mind body spirit publisher O books have a courageous new imprint Zero Books. Novelist Tariq Goddard (author of Homage to a Firing Squad, Dynamo and The Morning Rides Behind Us) has been busy commissioning some excellent, unsung authors to write short books on contemporary culture: educated, informed by – but not in awe of – theory, and genuinely provocative. The first is Wire writer David Stubbs on Fear of Music: Why People Get Rothko but Don’t Get Stockhausen which I’ll be fascinated to read as I’m sceptical of the middle classes newfound love of contemporary art (my own tastes tend to be the reverse: hate Rothko, love Aufgehoben) and suspect it has more to do with a pleasant afternoon in a white space. Elitist, moi? I digress...
With svelte prose, agile wit, and alarming erudition, Owen Hatherley pries open the prematurely closed case of early 20th Century modernism. This slim and shapely, ideas-packed and intensely-felt book is neither a misty-eyed memorial nor a dour inquest, but a verging-on-erotic mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Rediscovering the enchantment of demystification and the sexiness of severity, Hatherley harks forward to modernism's utopian spirit: critical, radically democratic, dedicated to the conscious transformation of everyday life, determined to build a better world.
They’re both out on the 24th April.