Prince of Modes: Latour’s Later Philosophy

April 22, 2013

That’s the title of my sequel to Prince of Networks, which re.press (home of the earlier book) has just agreed to published. I’ve really enjoyed working with them, and it’s still my best-selling book despite being available free of charge as a PDF on the re.press website. I wanted the sequel to be living in the same home. The center of this book will be Latour’s massive new modes of existence project, though I plan to cover the Gifford Lectures and maybe a few other things, and some attention will need to be given to the philosophy of Étienne Souriau.

This does mean that I’ll be working on 3 books simultaneously (this one, the Latour’s politics book, and the one on continental epistemism) during sabbatical. But at the risk of this sounding like an affectation, I find it much easier to work on multiple books simultaneously rather than one at a time, and will be doing it that way from here on out.

It’s the best antidote to writer’s block, since you can always turn to another project if one of them is feeling stale. And though I haven’t had writer’s block in awhile, I had it badly enough in my 20’s that I don’t care to go anywhere near it again. Most of the smart people who fail in intellectual life fail because they can’t get written work done, and while the fate of most such people is merely self-destructive depression, some of them develop personality-wise in ways that verge on the evil. Avoid that path at all costs, even if you have to break with a whole group of associates to do it. Getting projects done has to become something like a religion for you.

A prominent author recently passed through our campus (I admire his books very much) and we were trading writing strategy anecdotes. In response to my claim that it’s easier to write 3 books at a time than just 1, he asked how I prevent the projects from blending too much together. I didn’t really have a good answer at the time. But after thinking it over, decided that the whole point is to have some blending. The projects tend to inspire each other.

And in the case of the present 3 book contracts: the two Latour books are on partially overlapping but different themes, while the epistemism project is centered in Žižek and Badiou, though Meillassoux’s remarks in Berlin last year were really the inspiration for it.

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