Readings from the Vast Unread may not be such a bright idea, but it is historically unprecedented.
Frank Stouts life was an engagement in realities seen and shaped. To say that for him there was no alternative, needlessly multiplies possibility. Even when voicedthe exceptionhis speech was mute, and the muteness and muttering of the broadly framed, black-haired painter could make his students uncomfortable.
No getting cozy; no sense propping up a window, leaning back in a chair or adjusting the lamp. There is a story to tell and snap shots to look at, but this will be over before it starts.
It needs to be noticed: We have New Left Review and October; we have Monthly Review and Critical Inquiry; there is Rethinking Marxism and Cultural Critique; Socialist Review and Confrontation; Critique; Radical Philosophy; the Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies and shelves and shelves of critical theory of all kinds.
What interests us in the thought and writings of T. W. Adorno cannot interest us. Where it touches us most closely in the urgency of the moment, it misses the mark entirely. When it cuts to the quick, nothing is felt. This is easily demonstrated. For wherever we open Adornos writings, whichever volume we turn to, the topic is the barbaric and barbarism.
This year, our third, we have directed the gaze of our contributors more inwardly still and asked each to divulge author and title of five books remembered as having once been decisively most important, but of which our contributors could never ever bear to again read a page. This, no doubt, is to date and by far our most Introspective List.
We asked friends and colleagues to contribute THE five books.