Expanding ‘Explaining Postmodernism’
Here’s a new re-issue of a recent book, an important bo0k, an essential book—this expanded second edition of which offers even more philosophical self-defence than the first. Allow me to just quote what I said about the first edition, which itself went through ten printings in the seven years since its release, and all of which I would only say again (but in much pithier fashion) about this new Expanded Edition:
This [small] book should be in every student's backpack. In the post-modern intellectual battleground in which each student find himself submerged - and sometimes drowning - this book offers essential intellectual self-defence for every student who still cares to think. No matter if you already know every answer to all the sundry irrationalities you face every day - herewith is a comprehensive summary of your intellectual enemy that for the first time clearly and comprehensively puts each of the post-modern heroes in their place.
Why is that so important? Well, what do you feel when you watch a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis? You watch it greet the sun, spread its wings and almost give thanks to existence for its rebirth. Imagine then another human being gleefully stamping their boot on that reborn butterfly, smilingly stamping the life out of it. Such is the situation in many places of academe. This book gives a defence to the fragile butterfly of the intellect.
One of the worst periods of my own life was spent at Auckland's Architecture School where I found myself being taught by intelligent human beings, many of whom seemed somehow intent on using that intelligence to snuff out young students' sense of certainty and their joy in learning about ideas and creating great art. I watched as many students became either irrational automatons emulating the noises made by these lecturers, or gave up in disgust - often questioning themselves and their own ability. They were crushed. That situation was not unique to my own alma mater - it pertains to nearly every grove of academia in the Western world. This book explains the mentality of scum who earn a pay-cheque by gleefully crushing impressionable young minds, and the strategies they employ to do it.
The book is a "great but very scary read." Written like an adventure story, it guides the reader confidently and clearly through the intellectual history of the last three-hundred years in order to explain why the `new intellectual age' we find ourselves in is in most respects a toxic Age of Crap.
My only gripe is that the adventure story does not end with a happy ending - although Ayn Rand and the Objectivist antidote to this intellectual poison are implicitly present on every page, where I expected their explicit appearance at the conclusion Stephen delivers only the truism that "what is still needed is a refutation of these [post-modern] historical premises, and an identification and defense of the alternatives to them."
Here would have been an obvious opportunity to send the reader to cleaner Objectivist pastures elsewhere in which this work is being done. A recommended reading list would have been a welcome addition - perhaps he intends to set up such a thing online? *
In any case, as with the recommendations given by others, this is "not a book review but a flat-out endorsement." In many respects Stephen's book is a much-needed update of Rand's essay "For the New Intellectual” but this time expanded and with footnotes - it is like seeing the `director's cut' of Rand's earlier essay. It is that good.
Buy one for a student today. You might just save their life.
Buy it at Amazon in either Kindle or hard cover. Or, if you really are a poor student, read the first edition online in PDF at the author’s website.
NB: The expanded edition also includes Hicks’ essays Free Speech and Postmodernism and From Modern to Postmodern Art: Why Art Became Ugly. Images of the art works discussed and referred to in the latter essay are available at a dedicated page at his website.