[Note: Any time I post something this aggravating, I get lots of hostile e-mails. Please say it here (comments aren't moderated) or on your own blog instead. I'm sorry; I wish that I had time/emotional energy to answer, let alone read, all of the angry e-mail my blogging sometimes generates. But I don't.]
I just got an advanced copy of Peter Wolfendale's Object-Oriented Philosophy: The Noumenon's New Clothes. I was pretty excited about it because I've been a fan of Wolfendale's blog for a long while now and also quite enjoyed large chunks of his dissertation on Heidegger as well as some of his takes on Robert Brandom. We have a pretty fundamental disagreement about the latter's quietism, but I continue to find Wolfendale to be an interlocutor from whom I can learn a lot.
Since what I'm about to say is negative let me also preface it with a story of my own. My first publication was something I wrote with Roy Cook in graduate school. The first place we sent it was Analysis and they accepted it with revisions. So this seemed easy enough. And it generally is for people, as long as they are co-writing with Roy Cook (the guy's phenomenal). But after that I moved to Louisiana and it was over two years before I got anything else accepted. It was one of the darkest periods of my life. That is, as I faced the possibility of instantiating the Bob Dylan line about thirty years of schooling and they put you on the day shift, it became a little bit maddening. Weirdly, the psychological issues had a pronounced negative effect on my prose, and my first two single-authored papers published (here and here) just have a nasty tone. I find looking at them today really unpleasant. The frustration of what I was going through as an early stage academic with zero job security is just too manifest. I've long since had a chance to apologize to the papers' targets for the tone of the papers, and both were mensches about it. But I can't go back and rewrite them.*
It's generally a mistake to delve into people's psychology too much, unless doing so helps you be more charitable. So I'm going to try see the preface (available now online here) of Wolfendale's book in terms of what I myself went through. Moreover, in my case the reviewers and editors at Philosophical Studies and Synthese at least helped me tone down the paper a bit before publication. It's pretty clear that the suits at Urbanomic Press did not extend the same bit of professionalism to Wolfendale.
So now here is the weird thing. At the very outset of a four hundred page book ostensibly about Graham Harman's philosophy we get phrases like "the pathological dynamics typical of Harman's work" (xvi). Please pause and consider that. Why write a four hundred page book about something dynamically pathological? Seriously, polemics in philosophy never succeed, for the simple reason that only the already converted give the polemicist a pass on the uncharity needed for the polemic to be rhetorically effective. For a good example of this performative contradiction in action, check out Bertrand Russell's introduction to Ernest Gellner's old attack on "linguistic philosophy."