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Or, the Style of Too Late Capitalism

by Anna Kornbluh
Publication Date: 30/04/2024

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The dangers of immediacy- why speed, flow, and direct expression now dominate cultural style

Contemporary cultural style rejects mediation in favor of direct access, extreme affect, and rapid uptake. These are values it borrows from the 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 21st century capitalism demand that art pretend it isn't.

Smearing our noses in realness seems to be the only goal of much of contemporary culture, and that goal synchs with the economic imperative to intensify circulation when production stagnates. Circulation strives to be instantaneous, with "flow" the ultimate 21st century buzzword, but these speedy gears grind art down to the nub. And the bad news is, the political turmoil and social challenges we face - climate crisis foremost among them - require more rather than less mediation.

Collective will, inspiring ideas, and deliberate construction are the only way out, but our dominant style undoes them. Considering original streaming tv, popular fiction, artworld trends, and academic theories, Immediacy explains the recent obsession with immersion, authenticity, and total transparency, and it points to alternative forms of representation in photography, tv, novels, and constructive theory, that prioritize distance, impersonality, and big ideas instead.

Popular culture
Publication Date:
Verso Books
Country of origin:
United Kingdom
Dimensions (mm):
Anna Kornbluh

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.

Anna Kornbluh has a prominent international profile in academic circles ranging from literature and film to political economy and history, in the artworld increasingly as critic-in-residence at gallery events for contemporary work in Chicago, and in journalistic venues like The Times Literary Supplement (which has repeatedly reviewed her work), The Chronicle of Higher Education (which recurrently commissions essays and interviews from/with her), and The Paris Review, as well as podcasts with over 10,000 individual listeners, such as Why Theory.

This recent youtube interview has over 6000 views- https-// While she tweets impersonally, her account has nearly 12,000 followers. The Los Angeles Review of Books has already commissioned an essay from her to coincide with the book's publication.

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