News | Year: 2018

21 Nov 2018

As we say a final Excelsior! to Stan Lee, e-flux have just published Reza Negarestani and Keith Tilford’s superb Chronosis: Exordium, as part of their Wonderflux celebration of a decade of e-flux.

This stunning new pulp-philosophy synthesis of concept and comic comes in advance of an extended Kilford+Blades project to be published by Urbanomic in 2019.

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08 Oct 2018

Reza Negarestani will be giving a seminar as part of the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami’s art+research program for Fall 2018, ‘Disrobing the Human: Three Lesson in the Pre-history of Machine Intelligence’, exploring the questions of logic, intelligence, and the human addressed in his Intelligence and Spirit. The programme includes a public lecture on Thursday October 25 – see the website for details.

18 Sep 2018

We are delighted to announce that from October 2018, all Urbanomic and Urbanomic/Sequence Press books will be distributed worldwide by The MIT Press.

This is a great move for us: we’re excited to be under the same umbrella as great pioneering publishers such as Semiotext(e) and Zone Books, and to join other recent additions on MIT’s distribution list, including Strange Attractor Press, Goldsmiths Press, and Afterall.

For readers this will mean much greater availability of our titles, especially outside of Europe. You should see Urbanomic and Urbanomic/Sequence books in many more bookstores worldwide. Mail orders will be operated through MIT Press’s website.

For us it means being certain that books are being promoted by people who understand them, in the right places, and are getting to readers. It means letting go of some logistical and marketing aspects of the business so that we can spend time on the things we do best: editorial, design and production, working with authors, events and special projects, and making sure Urbanomic continues to scan new fields of thought and build new audiences.

Needless to say, this in no way alters Urbanomic’s cultural and intellectual outlook. We carefully select titles for their exploratory innovation and conceptual interconnections, and each title matters to us. With no one agenda or point of view, but sometimes wildly different positions and approaches across different publications, we will continue to try to provide a map of the tensions and faultlines that constitute the field of contemporary thought (and where possible, to exacerbate them).

The move does also mean that we say a regretful farewell to Central Books, who have been indispensable partners for Urbanomic since 2013. Central are highly recommended, their service has always been superb, and we’re sorry to leave them. However, consolidation of our distribution with Sequence Press in the US has meant that this move makes perfect sense for us now.

Since 2010 our relationship with Sequence Press has already enabled us to reach new audiences, to explore new fields of theory and practice, and to sustain and grow Urbanomic—it’s no exaggeration to say that, if it weren’t for Sequence, Urbanomic would not be where it is today. So we’re thrilled to be taking this next step together with them. Along with Urbanomic and our combined titles, Sequence Press’s own list of publications will also be available via MIT’s distribution network.

In the short term, this move means that, during the transition period over the next few months, there may be disruption in availability of Urbanomic titles through all channels. The web store here at urbanomic.com will be offline, and elsewhere our accounts with third party vendors will be transitioning. Please bear with us while the process is underway.

05 Sep 2018
'Collapse volume 5: The Copernican Imperative', published by Urbanomic

It is with great sorrow that we learn of the death of Damian Veal, who had worked with Urbanomic co-editing several volumes of Collapse. In particular, Damian was the chief editor and driving force behind The Copernican Imperative, a collection into which he put a superhuman amount of energy, and of which he remained rightly proud.

Damian’s companionship during our assembly of those volumes, and the high seriousness and low humour we shared in the process, often on the verge of sleep-deprived delirium, is memorable; as is his attention to detail, and the way he gleefully grasped the opportunity to subject some of the most prominent figures in their respective disciplines to intense scrutiny in the interviews he conducted. (Readers remarked that they learnt at least as much from his questions, sometimes several pages long, as from the responses.)

Damian was a talented, independent thinker with an impressive grasp of philosophy and science both historically and in their most recent developments. His ongoing research into questions of naturalism and philosophy of mind continually expanded and shifted its boundaries. With the sensitivity innate to his character, he had a feel for both the historical depth of a philosophical problem, its current significance, and the breadth of its connections to other matters; he would always unhesitatingly open up another Pandora’s box of nuance and complexity where others would have opted to set it aside.

Chronically scrupulous in his studies, yet unduly hesitant about the potential contribution he could make to academia and public debate, Damian was intensely vigilant and conscientious in everything he did. Hence (despite the continual entreaties of friends and colleagues) the regrettably few publications that appeared in his name, among which we are proud to count The Copernican Imperative, but which also included a groundbreaking volume of Angelaki on ‘Continental Philosophy and the Sciences’—one of several areas where he sought to correct and complicate a dogmatic image of the divide between supposed ‘schools of thought’.

In his personal life, for many years Damian had kept up a brave and tenacious struggle against the most crippling depression. He was always lucid, calm, and reflective, never self-pitying, in his confrontation with the condition. Indeed, his sober, unromanticised view of it could be a tonic to others, as I can attest. At times, in conversation, always very circumspectly, he would address the relation between depression and the discipline of philosophy, the broadest questions of meaning, life and death, intellectual distance, mind and body, pessimism and nihilism. In these heartfelt, searching conversations I felt myself drawn as close as possible to the intersection of the intimate sufferings of a human life and the collective endeavour of rational thought, and hence (arguably—and he would have argued, no doubt) to the core of philosophy ‘itself’.

Although Damian never wavered in his belief in science’s ability to shed light on even the most obscure mysteries of the universe, he also took seriously the human spirit’s vulnerability to the ensuing disenchantment of the world. But then, with him, discussions of the most dismal prospects would often effectively transform disillusionment back into active questioning and excitement at the possibilities of thought—qualities that reflected what was (with due apologies for the ‘vitalism’, Damian) most alive in him; the spark which, unjustly, he had to defend at every turn against the ferocity of an encroaching darkness.

The other side of Damian’s critical vigilance and his unwillingness to ‘let go’ of his own writings was that, over the years, he ended up playing a largely unvaunted role behind the scenes at Urbanomic and elsewhere, sometimes in an editorial capacity, but more importantly as one of the most earnest, knowledgeable, and probing interlocutors one could hope for. A unique character, formidably intelligent and well-read, vehement and sometimes prickly in philosophical argument, occasionally cantankerous but invariably ready for a laugh, in person Damian was a gentle, considerate and generous man held in the highest esteem not only as someone to think and work with, but as a friend. In both respects, he will be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with his family in their loss.

Robin Mackay

20 Jun 2018
SIMON-SELLARS-PRIMARY

Read Brendan Gillott’s superb review article on Simon Sellars’s Applied Ballardianism, genre, and theory-fiction, at Minor Literatures.

Applied Ballardianism is a work which grapples with and is submerged by […] fluidities, of genre, of subject, of person. Precisely in its pseudo-autobiographical qualities, it tries to live its insights and obsessions, to find exemplary failure in the blindnesses that accompany them.

[…] This is a book of critical epistemology, of questioning what it is we know, what it is we can know, about and through literary texts. The refracted fluorescence of our own critical passions and compulsions visits us outlandishly, like lights in the sky.