Friday, October 09, 2009

In Praise of the Common: A Conversation on Philosophy and Politics

Cesare Casarino, Antonio Negri

Cesare Casarino and Antonio Negri, In Praise of the Common: A Conversation on Philosophy and Politics, U of Minnesota Press, 2008, 312pp., $24.95 (pbk), ISBN 9780816647439.

Reviewed by Jason Read, University of Southern Maine

 In Praise of the Common is a difficult book to categorize; neither a collection of interviews nor a collection of essays, it combines b
oth formats, becoming in the end something unique. It is also a book that not only became something different than was initially intended, but which also explicitly states this difference. The book was conceived as a series of interviews that would address the historical background of Antonio Negri's thought, the tumultuous period of political action and philosophical reflection of the Italian sixties and seventies that remains largely unknown in the Anglo-American world despite the popularity of Empire
and Multitude. However, as these conversations developed they became less about the past, less a matter of one person interviewing another about his experiences, and more about the present and future. The interview became a conversation. Unlike an interview, a conversation is determined less by an asymmetry between the one who knows and the one who asks than by the production of some common understanding. In Casarino's terms, "Conversation is the language of the common" (1).

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