I found a lot of this thought provoking, though in the end I was unconvinced. To be fair, the parts I found particularly unconvincing either (1) came from Trott not have access to Brassier's full afterward, or (2) a pretty deep moral disagreement about the nature and role of norms regarding civility. On the former, I'll maybe do a longer post on that with substantive quotes if I have time in the next week or so. The latter is something that informed people of good will can disagree about. In any case, Trott's thoughts are well worth reading.
Where I'm really still stuck is that I still can't wrap my mind around so many bloggers' thought that it is somehow simultaneously (1) fine to call a colleague's entire corpus "pathological" and compare a set of colleagues to Scientologists, Randroids, and Bigfoot believers, yet (2) not O.K. for the people thus slimed (in fact told that they do not exist) to take public exception. I don't get this one bit.
In the original post I tried to explain the overstated vitriol that of Wolfendale's text in terms of the publisher's lack of professionalism* combined with vices characteristic of many if not most early career academics. I gave examples from my own early papers that instantiated the vice. Wolfendale, Trott, and others find that patronizing. I apologize for that. However, there's a weird contradiction here. If I try to take into account the fact that the guy is just out of graduate school then that's patronizing, but if I don't take that into account then that is an example of me abusing my position of power to silence the subaltern.
Another strange response is that I shouldn't have taken strong exception because I got the book gratis from the press. First, the execrable preface was already posted freely on-line. I linked to it and exerpted significant chunks. Second, when the Urbanomic rep (not Wolfendale) contacted me, I specifically asked for permission to blog about the book. The rep enthusiasticaly assented. Note that this was before I gave them my snail mail address to receive the book.
Really, what did they expect me to write in reference to the preface and afterward? Something like the following?
Yes, Wolfendale and Brassier are right. Me, Peter Gratton, Steven Shaviro, everyone involved with the journal Speculations, everyone publishing under the relevant lists at Bloomsbury, Minnesota, and Edinburgh (really basically anyone who thinks that "Speculative Realism" is a useful category) have all fallen under the L. Ron Hubbardish power of Graham Harman as he pathologically instantiates everything wrong with Continental philosophy.
I'm sorry, but none of that would be true.
While I'm cataloging weird responses to my post. I think possibly the strangest trope I've seen repeated is that Graham Harman has this big internet publicity machine and that Speculative Realism is some epiphenomenon of that. But Harman's the one who has done the most to move this off of the blogs into publishing houses that use standard editing procedures to ensure the quality of the published work. Now there are multiple books on Speculative Realism coming out with University of Edinburgh Press, the University of Minnesota Press, and Bloomsbury. Pace Brassier, would it be remiss for me to note that as far as I know none of these presses have lists in Objectivism, Scientology, or Big Foot Studies? Yet Harman is somehow the one running an internet cult. Again, I don't get it one bit.
Of the original four, before the band broke up, Brassier had published with Palgrave MacMillan, Meillassoux and Hamilton Grant with Bloomsbury (where Gratton's new (contra Brassier and Wolfendale's contention, existing) book on Speculative Realism is and which has at least one forthcoming book on post-structuralism and Speculative Realism that I know about), and Harman with Open Court.
I still think that Brassier's oft-quoted (by Brian Leiter) claim about the Speculative Realist internet being "an orgy of on-line stupidity" was obnoxious. But after this last week, I'm not quite so quick to embrace the brave new world. While I'm glad that people like those at Urbanomic are doing their funky weird samizdat thing, I'd hate to live in a world without academic presses and the standards they impose on those of us who subject ourselves to them.