David Auerbach on literature, tech, film, etc.

David Auerbach’s Books of the Year 2022: Philosophy

This is the final list for 2022. There is some seriously important work here, particularly the translation of Hans Blumenberg’s late masterpiece The Readability of the World, which is as mind-expanding as the best of his work. (I believe only Hoehlenausgaenge only remains to be translated of his big books.) Just as much are the two new volumes of Myles Burnyeat’s papers, particularly the third’s extensive treatment of the Republic, in particular the long “Plato on Why Mathematics is Good for the Soul,” which marshals the best explanation I’ve read for just why studying pure, unapplied mathematics was so important to Plato (and why it is still important today). It’s a brilliant essay. And Catherine Wilson’s book is one of the best on Kant I’ve read in some time and is as strong as the rest of her work.

The Readability of the World (signale|TRANSFER: German Thought in Translation)
Blumenberg, Hans (Author), Savage, Robert (Translator), Roberts, David (Translator)
Cornell University Press and Cornell University Library

Kant and the Naturalistic Turn of 18th Century Philosophy
Wilson, Catherine (Author)
OUP Oxford

Explorations in Ancient and Modern Philosophy: Volume 3
Burnyeat, Myles (Author)
Cambridge University Press

Explorations in Ancient and Modern Philosophy: Volume 4
Burnyeat, Myles (Author)
Cambridge University Press

Plato's Second Republic: An Essay on the Laws
Laks, André (Author)
Princeton University Press

What's the Use of Philosophy?
Kitcher, Philip (Author)
Oxford University Press

Johann Friedrich Herbart: Grandfather of Analytic Philosophy
Beiser, Frederick C. (Author)
OUP Oxford

Romantic Empiricism: Nature, Art, and Ecology from Herder to Humboldt
Nassar, Dalia (Author)
Oxford University Press

Pico della Mirandola on Trial: Heresy, Freedom, and Philosophy
Copenhaver, Brian (Author)
Oxford University Press

David Auerbach’s Books of the Year 2022: Humanities

A highlight of the year for me was Genese Grill’s wonderful collection of essays, Portals. Grill’s work translating and writing about Robert Musil has long been a source of great insight and inspiration for me, and her uncompromising thoughts on the purpose and function of art come as solace in these times. As do Noga Arikha’s historically-informed look at mental decline and Rens Bod’s ambitious theory of patterns in knowledge-seeking (which is admirably available free).

World of Patterns: A Global History of Knowledge
Bod, Rens (Author), Buell, Leston (Translator)
Johns Hopkins University Press

The Orphic Voice: Poetry and Natural History (New York Review Books Classics)
Sewell, Elizabeth (Author), Schenck, David (Introduction)
NYRB Classics

Inventing the Alphabet: The Origins of Letters from Antiquity to the Present
Drucker, Johanna (Author)
University of Chicago Press

Ming Dynasty Tales: A Guided Reader
Mair, Victor H. (Editor)
Bloomsbury Academic

The Lost Republic: Cicero's De oratore and De re publica
Zetzel, James E. G. (Author)
Oxford University Press

David Auerbach’s Books of the Year 2022: History and Social Science

I have the least to say about these books. The decline of any assumed consensus has led to an increase in polemicism when it comes to historical and political writing in particular, and it almost takes psychological and sociological (and financial) luxury to write with the kind of anti-presentist detachment required for lasting work. These books below mostly display that quality, to me, though not always consistently. (The Elkins book is frustrating for exactly this reason.) I enjoyed Geuss’s quasi-memoir precisely because he permits himself the sort of doubt and irony that seemingly spell career suicide for junior faculty.

Imaginary Languages: Myths, Utopias, Fantasies, Illusions, and Linguistic Fictions
Yaguello, Marina (Author), Butler, Erik (Translator)
The MIT Press

The South: Jim Crow and Its Afterlives (Jacobin)
Reed Jr., Adolph L. (Author)

The Populist Century: History, Theory, Critique
Rosanvallon, Pierre (Author), Porter, Catherine (Translator)

Utopianism for a Dying Planet: Life after Consumerism
Claeys, Gregory (Author)
Princeton University Press

Diagnosing Social Pathology: Rousseau, Hegel, Marx, and Durkheim
Neuhouser, Frederick (Author)
Cambridge University Press

War: A Genealogy of Western Ideas and Practices
Heuser, Beatrice (Author)
Oxford University Press

Data Driven: Truckers, Technology, and the New Workplace Surveillance
Levy, Karen (Author)
Princeton University Press

Not Thinking like a Liberal
Geuss, Raymond (Author)
Belknap Press

Napoleon: The Decline and Fall of an Empire: 1811-1821
Broers, Michael (Author)
Pegasus Books

Ideological Fixation: From the Stone Age to Today's Culture Wars
Gat, Azar (Author)
Oxford University Press

China After Mao: The Rise of a Superpower
Dikötter, Frank (Author)
Bloomsbury Publishing

Tales from the Borderlands: Making and Unmaking the Galician Past
Bartov, Omer (Author)
Yale University Press

David Auerbach’s Books of the Year 2022: Science and Technology

As ever, there are so many information-laden books on science and tech, as well as analytical ones, that the selection criteria are a little different. I tried to isolate books that contribute something different or at least provide something beyond their purported remit. Peebles’s book, for example, is far more assumption-questioning than most physics books of its kind, and to me far deeper for it. It demonstrates a way of thinking useful well beyond physics or science. If only there were an easier way to locate such books beyond browsing through many less distinguished books.

The Genesis Machine: Our Quest to Rewrite Life in the Age of Synthetic Biology
Webb, Amy (Author), Hessel, Andrew (Author)

The Internet Is Not What You Think It Is: A History, a Philosophy, a Warning
Smith-Ruiu, Justin (Author)
Princeton University Press

Leibniz on Binary: The Invention of Computer Arithmetic
Strickland, Lloyd (Author), Lewis, Harry R. (Author)
The MIT Press

A Philosopher Looks at Science
Cartwright, Nancy (Author)
Cambridge University Press

Dialogue on the Two Greatest World Systems (Oxford World's Classics)
Galileo (Author), Davie, Mark (Author), Shea, William R. (Author)
Oxford University Press

David Auerbach’s Books of the Year 2022: Comics and Art

Installment two of my books of the year, with most nonfiction still to come. It seemed a very lean year for comics overall. The big event is the long-delayed translation of the first half of Lewis Trondheim’s Ralph Azham, his 600-page treatment of power, politics, religion, and family. Trondheim’s ability to improvise a better story than most people can plan out remains exceptional. There is also the final book of Hubert’s uncompleted The Ogre Gods, putting a point on his loss through suicide.

Ralph Azham #1: Black Are The Stars (1)
Trondheim, Lewis (Author)

Ralph Azham #2: The Land of the Blue Demons (2)
Trondheim, Lewis (Author)

First Born: The Ogre Gods Book Four (OGRE GODS HC)
Hubert (Author), Gatignol, Bertrand (Artist)
Magnetic Press

La Synagogue
Sfar Joann (Author), Sfar Joann (Illustrator)

Dungeon: Early Years, vol. 3: Wihout a Sound (3)
Gaultier, Christophe (Author), Sfar, Joann (Author), Trondheim, Lewis (Author), Oiry, Stephane (Author)
NBM Publishing

Dungeon: Twilight vols. 1-2: Cemetery of the Dragon
Sfar, Joann (Author), Trondheim, Lewis (Author), Kerascoet, [none] (Illustrator)
NBM Publishing

Pogo: The Complete Syndicated Comics Strips: Vols. 7 & 8 Gift Box Set (POGO COMP SYNDICATED STRIPS HC BOX SET)
Kelly, Walt (Author), Evanier, Mark (Editor), Kelly, Walt (Artist)
Fantagraphics Books

The Projector and Elephant
Vaughn-James, Martin (Author), Seth (Editor), Heer, Jeet (Introduction), Seth (Designer)
New York Review Comics

All Your Racial Problems Will Soon End: The Cartoons of Charles Johnson
Johnson, Charles (Author)
New York Review Comics

The George Herriman Library: Krazy & Ignatz 1922-1924
Herriman, George (Author), Herriman, George (Artist)
Fantagraphics Books

Yumoto, Koichi (Author)
PIE International

George Grosz in Berlin: The Relentless Eye
Rewald, Sabine (Author), Buruma, Ian (Contributor)
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Käthe Kollwitz: A Survey of Her Work 1867 - 1945
Fischer, Hannelore (Editor)
Hirmer Publishers

Women Artists in Expressionism: From Empire to Emancipation
Behr, Shulamith (Author)
Princeton University Press

Austrian and German Masterworks: Twentieth Anniversary of Neue Galerie New York
Price, Renée (Editor), Lauder, Ronald S. (Preface)

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