Philosophers have a challenge in which speaking on issues can get tangled in language that is far from relevant for the everyday person. While most philosophers are not necessarily writing for, or pandering to, the “lay person,” their writing can get caught up in a web of intellectual linguistics and are more distanced from the people or society that they tend to be writing about.
The rigidity of philosophy has, at times, caused philosophers to try his or her hand at fiction, with varying degrees of success. Roland Barthes thought, though incredibly difficult, literary writing was the place to find a writing void of meaning of symbols, he tried to write a novel completely neutral in meaning, and found that he was right, it was impossible. Jean Baudrillard, another French philosopher, wrote in a way that made theory feel like a science fiction novel. Nietzsche and Camus both toed the line between philosophy and literature. Here though, are some attempts by other famous philosophers at combining their philosophies with a fictional hand.
1. The Storyteller by Walter Benjamin
A must-read by a scholar who dabbled with radio plays, sonnets, and film. This time Verso unearthed his literary treasures from the unpublished and untranslated graveyard and has brought us short stories, tales, and myths that all touch upon his philosophical meanderings.
2. All the King’s Horses by Michèle Bernstein
A novel written to help fund the situationist, Bernstein is best known as a member of the Situationist International, as well as having been the first wife of Guy Debord. While this might be a fictional, almost trashy, romance tale, it is an acknowledgement of the inner relationships of the Situationists, and can’t stray fully from the group politics.
3. The Service Porch by Fred Moten
Moten is a philosopher and poet par excellence. His works generally intertwine each other and his poetry beams with philosophical wordplay and pursuit. I would suggest reading everything he has written, but why not start with his latest.
Of course, there are many more fictional and poetic pursuits by philosophers. Which do you recommend?
YouTube Channel: The School of Life
Featured image via UNC
h/t The Guardian