Experiments against Reality:

The Fate of Culture in the Postmodern Age
Author: Roger Kimball
Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
October 2000

Is everything possible and nothing true? According to Roger Kimball, this belief, with its "mixture of gullibility and cynicism," characterizes much of our modern culture. Thus his new collection of essays, Experiments Against Reality, is "largely a chronicle of spiritual disillusionment." No one who is seriously concerned with the fate of out culture can afford to ignore it.

Confronting the dilemmas of modernist and postmodernist thought, Roger Kimball in this new collection of his work explores the literary and philosophical underpinnings of modernity as well as the state of our culture today. Experiments Against Reality displays the sophistication, breadth of knowledge, and clarity of argument that have made Mr. Kimball one of the most trenchant critics of our contemporary culture. He begins by considering the influential poet and theorist T.E. Hulme, and shows how the work of Walter Pater, Eliot, Auden, Wallace Stevens, Robert Musil, and others can be seen as efforts to articulate a convincing alternative to the intellectual and spiritual desolations of the age. Turning to the philosophical tradition, Mr. Kimball suggests how figures from Mill and Nietzsche to Sartre, Heidegger, Foucault, E.M. Cioran, Francis Fukuyama, and Joseph Pieper have addressed-or in many cases evaded-the defining moral imperatives of modernity. Finally he steps back to consider more generally the career of contemporary culture-the trivializing nature of the contemporary art world; the academic attack on historical truth and scientific rationality; the fate of the "two cultures" controversy. "Enlightenment," Mr. Kimball writes, "sought to emancipate man by liberating reason and battling against superstition. But reason liberated entirely from tradition has turned out to be rancorous and hubristic-in short, something irrational." Experiments Against Reality offers continuing evidence of Mr. Kimball's stature as one of our most important cultural critics.