On the Commerce of Thinking: Of Books and Bookstores

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Making, selling, and buying books has all the elements of the exchange economy that Marx analyzed-from commodification to fetishism-yet each book retains throughout an absolute and unique value, that of its subject. With reading, it gets repeatedly reprinted and rebound. For Nancy, the book thus functions only if it remains at the same time open and shut, like some Moebius strip. Closed, it represents the Idea and takes its place in a canon by means of its monumental form and the title and author's name displayed on its spine. But it also opens itself to us-indeed, consents to being shaken to its core-in being read each time anew.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Opening this little 'Aleph' of a book is a most extraordinary adventure; the universe and how we know it unfolds in startling profundity. I thought I knew what a book was until I read this, but Nancy has set me off again in search of the million things a book can be.-Lewis Buzbee

More than an loge to books and bookstores, or to the book or the bookstore, Jean-Luc Nancy's evocative essay reminds us of the crucial link between reading and politics that keeps open the possibility of enlightenment. Nancy touches suggestively on the book as what Stphane Mallarm called 'a spiritual instrument,' illuminating the epochal philosophical and religious developments for which books have been the indispensable material support. Nancy's book contains the philosophical weight and literary flair that has made him one of the most important thinkers of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. As David Wills helpfully points out in the preface to his excellent translation, Nancy's thoughts on books and bookstores extend his reflection on the possibility of the truly singular plurality of community.-Kevin McLaughlin

Delights the mind with its turns of phrase, its creative reinterpretations of ordinary concepts, and its remarkable rigor.-Sander van Maas

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823230365
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 6/15/2009
  • Edition description: 4
  • Pages: 84
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean-Luc Nancy is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Universit Marc Bloch,Strasbourg. Among the most recent of his many books to be published in English are Corpus; The Ground of the Image; Listening; Dis-Enclosure: The Deconstruction of Christianity; Noli me tangere: On the Raising of the Body; On the Commerce of Thinking: Of Books and Bookstores; and The Truth of Democracy (all Fordham).

DAVID WILLS is Professor of French and English at the University at Albany, SUNY. His most recent book is Dorsality: Thinking Back Through Technology and Politics.

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Table of Contents

Translator's Foreword: Thinking Singular Plural xiii

On the Commerce of Thinking of Books and Bookstores 1

The Idea and Character of the Book 8

The Book's End in Itself 13

The People of the Book 16

Interminable Reading 22

The Publication of the Unpublished 27

Book Open and Closed 31

The Scents of the Bookstore 38

The Commerce of Thinking 43

The Matter of Books 46

Electronic Supplement, Binary Reprise, Digital Counterpoint 49

Notes 58

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