Forthcoming Books I am Looking Forward to Reading

It seems like mere moments, but in fact it’s been nine months since my last post listing the forthcoming books I was looking forward to reading. In most cases the books on that last list were acquired, though I’ve read only four of the nineteen listed, though remain interested in reading the others. This year I’m acquiring fewer books, but the following are mostly irresistible:

  1. Antonio Negri, Spinoza: Then and Now
  2. Michel Houellebecq, Serotonin
  3. Denise Riley, Time Lived, Without Its Flow
  4. Rachel Mann, A Kingdom of Love
  5. Yiyun Li, Must I Go
  6. Karl Ole Knausgaard, In the Land of the Cyclops
  7. Naomi Klein, On Fire: The Burning Case for a New Green Deal
  8. J. M. Coetzee, The Death of Jesus
  9. Roberto Calasso, The Celestial Hunter
  10. Vivian Gornick, Unfinished Business: Notes of a Chronic Re-Reader
  11. Roberto Bazlen, Notes Without a Text
  12. S. D. Chrostowska, The Eyelid
  13. Chantal Akerman, My Mother Laughs
  14. Sergio Chejfec, The Incompletes
  15. Kate Zambreno, Drifts
  16. Lars Iyer, Nietzsche and The Burbs
  17. Theodor Adorno, Aspects of the New Right-Wing Extremism

“When we closed the door on religion, we closed the door on something inside ourselves as well. Not only did the holy vanish from our lives, all the powerful emotions associated with it vanished too. The idea of the sublime is a faint echo of our experience of the holy, without the mystery. The yearning and the melancholy expressed in Romantic art is a yearning back to this, a mourning of its loss.”

— Karl Ove Knausgaard, The End (trans. by Martin Aitken and Don Bartlett)

“I began to understand what it meant to read. Reading is seeing the words as lights shining in the dark, one after another, and to engage in the activity of reading is to follow the lights into the text. But what we see is never detached from the person we are; the mind has its limitations, they are personal, but cultural too in that there is always something we cannot see and places we cannot go. If we are patient and investigate the words and their contexts carefully enough, we may nonetheless identify those limitations, and what is revealed to us then is that which lies outside ourselves. The goal of reading is to reach these places. This is what learning is, seeing that which lies outside the confines of self. To grow older is not to understand more but to realise that there is more to understand.”

— Karl Ove Knausgaard, The End (trans. by Martin Aitken and Don Bartlett)

The last sentence of this fragment, so elegant a formulation of the increasing uncertainty that comes with maturity.

“Humility, a word so often bandied about in public contexts, was something hardly anyone knew the meaning of any more. Only those who had every reason to be conceited, those of real calibre, showed no trace of conceit, only they were humble. Conceit and self-righteousness were part of a defence mechanism without which a person would be crushed under the weight of their own weaknesses, shortcomings and flaws, and that fact underlay almost every discussion I witnessed, verbal as well as written, in newspapers and on television, but also in my immediate surroundings, in the private sphere. Such weakness would not be admitted, since so much would be lost, and the form of those discussions and the power of the media resolved it by endowing it with their strength. That was why opinions were so important in society, through opinions we appropriated a strength and supremacy we did not possess. That was the function of form here, to obscure the weakness of the individual.

— Karl Ove Knausgaard, The End (trans. by Martin Aitken and Don Bartlett)

“A morality that proceeds from the community of an all, that proceeds from we, is dangerous, perhaps more dangerous than anything else, because committing to an all is to commit to an abstraction, something existing in language or the world of ideas, but not in reality, where people exist only as separate individuals.”

— Karl Ove Knausgaard, The End (trans. by Martin Aitken and Don Bartlett)

“And writing was such a fragile thing. It wasn’t hard to write well, but it was hard to make writing that was alive, writing that could prise open the world and draw it together in one and the same movement. When it didn’t work, which it never really did, not really, I would sit there like a conceited idiot and wonder who I thought I was, supposing I could write for others. Did I know any better than anyone else? Did I possess some secret no one else possessed? Were my experiences particularly valuable? My thoughts about the world especially valid?”

— Karl Ove Knausgaard, The End (trans. by Martin Aitken and Don Bartlett)

It is characteristic that Knausgaard would think and express this sentiment in his book. (At a much lower level, it is a thought constantly on mind as I contribute in any way to blogging and other social media.)