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Book Cover for: Immediacy: Or, the Style of Too Late Capitalism, Anna Kornbluh

Immediacy: Or, the Style of Too Late Capitalism

Anna Kornbluh

Why speed, flow, and direct expression now dominate cultural style

Contemporary cultural style boosts transparency and instantaneity. These are values absorbed from our current economic conditions of "disintermediation" cutting out the middleman. Like Uber, but for art. Immediacy names this style to make sense of what we lose when the contradictions of twenty-first-century capitalism demand that aesthetics negate mediation. Surging realness as an aesthetic program synchs with the economic imperative to intensify circulation when production stagnates. "Flow" is the ultimate twenty-first-century buzzword, but speedy circulation grinds art down to the nub. And the bad news is that political turmoil and social challenges require more mediation. Collective will, inspiring ideas, and deliberate construction are the only way out, but our dominant style forgoes them. Considering original streaming TV, popular literature, artworld trends, and academic theories, Immediacy explains the recent obsession with immersion and today's intolerance of representation, and points to alternative forms in photography, TV, novels, and constructive theory that prioritize distance, impersonality, and big ideas instead.

Book Details

  • Publisher: Verso
  • Publish Date: Jan 30th, 2024
  • Pages: 240
  • Language: English
  • Dimensions: 8.20in - 5.40in - 0.80in - 0.50lb
  • EAN: 9781804291344
  • Categories: Popular CulturePopular CultureSociology - Social Theory

About the Author

Anna Kornbluh is Professor of English at the University of Illinois, Chicago, where her research and teaching center on literature, film, and Marxist cultural theory. She is the author of The Order of Forms: Realism, Formalism, and Social Space, and Marxist Film Theory and Fight Club, and Realizing Capital.

Praise for this book

"The sensation of reading Anna Kornbluh's Immediacy is of someone turning on the light in a dark room. Suddenly one beholds a world one had only been stumbling through and can begin, with Kornbluh's help, to trace a whole new set of relations between the disparate phenomena that define contemporary culture. The shocking conceptual clarity and rightness of its dialectical reversal of everything we thought we knew about life lived under conditions of postmodern hyper-mediation should make this book the starting point of future discussions of the nature of the present."
--Mark McGurl, Stanford University, author of Everything and Less: The Novel in the Age of Amazon

"This brilliantly written, wild ride of a book is an enthralling, gloves-off critical intervention urgently needed in this moment."
--Jonathan Crary, author of 24/7 and Scorched Earth

"Kornbluh offers a swift -- and much needed -- kick to one of the most insidious symptoms of our time: the demand for the now, the immediately felt, the one-off. Armed with a strong imperative: "Think!" which she reiterates in an uncommonly rich vocabulary and from a variety of perspectives, she succeeds at the very least in holding up this runaway trend. Together with her previous critiques of capitalism, Immediacy establishes Kornbluh as one of the most inventive new voices in the field."
--Joan Copjec, Brown University

"To the things themselves! Fuck no, that's precisely the problem. In this book on the poetics of social forms, Kornbluh has expertly diagnosed the contemporary yen for immediacy and immanence, presence and reality, the indistinct blurs and liquid flows of seemingly authentic experience. Taking it all as a kind of social pathology, she reads contemporary style through the deterritorializations of hyper capitalism, and the crushing lateness of an economic logic that insists on no alternative for society and no future for the planet. What results is a plea for the labor of mediation, and an insistence on dialectics as the central mechanism of art and culture."
--Alexander R. Galloway, author of Uncomputable: Play and Politics in the Long Digital Age

"Anna Kornbluh brilliantly reinvigorates critique for an age drowning under the deluge of self-presentation. Embracing structure over style, representation over personalization, and collectivity over narcissism, she creates a space for thinking -- the necessary space for politics."
--Jodi Dean

"Immediacy masterfully exposes the common core of many different problems and phenomena that we do not necessarily think of as related. The imperative of immediacy and its suffocating logic are the hallmarks of what Kornbluh calls "too late capitalism". Drawing on philosophy, psychoanalysis and art she makes a vivid, passionate, and most compelling case for mediation that creates the much-needed capacity to imaginatively break with the merely given. An extremely precious book that goes far beyond purely academic concerns."
--Alenka Zupancic

"Anna Kornbluh simply nails it in this fearless, witty, and conceptually powerful indictment of contemporary capitalist culture's desire to annihilate negation-while also "negating the negation" by showing how things might be otherwise. A stunning and unignorable book."
--Sianne Ngai, author of Theory of the Gimmick: Aesthetic Judgment and Capitalist Form