Kunkel reviews Groys for the London Review of Books

The latest issue of the London Review of Books features an article by Benjamin Kunkel on Boris Groys’ Introduction to Antiphilosophy. It’s a fairly good review, with an unexpected emphasis on Adorno — against whom Kunkel contrasts Groys’ aesthetic theory. There are bits and pieces I disagree with, quibbles about some of Kunkel’s passing characterizations of Adorno’s thought, and think he’s a bit unfair to Groys at times. But Kunkel recognizes that Groys’ main value consists in his ability to unsettle and disturb his readers, something I’ve always appreciated in his writings.

Still, considered purely as a review of his most recent collection of essays, Introduction to Antiphilosophy, Kunkel’s piece falls well short. In fact, his entire focus is on one essay out of the entire volume, in which Groys revisits the Gesamtkunstwerk theme in tracing out a genealogy of participatory aesthetics. Otherwise, the rest of the review goes over Groys’ long career as a theorist-provocateur, which is admittedly an interesting narrative, but spends most of its time on his first book on Stalinist aesthetics and his 2010 nostalgia piece on The Communist Postscript. Left completely out of the picture are some of the more interesting essays in the book, though on the whole it’s a rather uneven text. Continue reading