The Recourse of Savage Philosophy
Christopher Bracken’s Magical Criticism brings the unacknowledged history of this racialization to light and shows how, even as we have rejected ethnocentric notions of “the savage,” they remain active today in everything from attacks on postmodernism to Native American land disputes. Here Bracken reveals that many of the most influential Western thinkers dabbled in savage philosophy, from Marx, Nietzsche, and Proust, to Freud, C. S. Peirce, and Walter Benjamin. For Bracken, this recourse to savage philosophy presents an opportunity to reclaim a magical criticism that can explain the very real effects created by the discourse of historians, anthropologists, philosophers, the media, and governments.
Introduction: What Are Savages For?
Chapter One: Discourse Is Now
Chapter Two: The New Barbarism
Chapter Three: The Mana Type
Chapter Four: Commodity Totemism
Chapter Five: Allegories of the Sun, Specters of Excess
Coda: The Solaris Hypothesis
“Christopher Bracken’s Magical Criticism is a superbly original account of the Western invention of “savage” thought. This is sharp, precise, challenging criticism of the highest order.”
“Magical Criticism boldly puts forward an erudite and entertaining argument that 'discursive forces have more-than-discursive consequences.' Bracken revisits, and reinvests with significance, long-discredited anthropological concepts of 'savage philosophy,' such as mana, animism, and even magic, and in the process makes the case for the contemporary relevance of nineteenth-century evolutionary anthropology—Tylor, Frazer, Lubbock—and provides stimulating new readings of classic modern discourse theory. This is an exciting, paradigm-challenging work.”