The Immortalization Commission

The Strange Quest to Cheat Death

The Immortalization Commission

SUNDAY TIMES, NEW STATESMAN and TLS BOOKS OF THE YEAR At the heart of all human experience lies our obsession with death. For many years we turned to religion for answers, but with the twentieth century came ideas from evolution and politics to suggest that our lives - and afterlives - were in our own hands. Such ideas went on to have both trivial and terrible effects: from a sweeping craze of séances to the mass-murders of the Stalinist terror. Gray raises vital questions about the 'truths' science can offer, the technology we are still exploiting for immortality - and exactly what it means to be human.

Modern Mummies

The Preservation of the Human Body in the Twentieth Century

Modern Mummies

Archaeology.

Memory & Oblivion

Proceedings of the XXIXth International Congress of the History of Art held in Amsterdam, 1–7 September 1996

Memory & Oblivion

Memory is a subject that recently has attracted many scholars and readers not only in the general historical sciences, but also in the special field of art history. However, in this book, in which more than 130 papers given at the XXIXth International Congress of the History of Art (Amsterdam) 1996 have been compiled, Memory is also juxtaposed to its counterpart, Oblivion, thus generating extra excitement in the exchange of ideas. The papers are presented in eleven sections, each of which is devoted to a different aspect of memory and oblivion, ranging from purely material aspects of preservation, to social phenomena with regard to art collecting, from the memory of the art historian to workshop practices, from art in antiquity, to the newest media, from Buddhist iconography to the Berlin Wall. The book addresses readers in the field of history, history of art and psychology.

Disturbing Remains

Memory, History, and Crisis in the Twentieth Century

Disturbing Remains

In Disturbing Remains, ten extraordinary scholars focus on the remembrance and representation of traumatic historical events in the twentieth century. The volume opens with essays by David William Cohen, Veena Das, and Philip Gourevitch. Their reflections on the narratives framing Robert Ouko's death in Kenya, Sikh-Hindu violence in India around the time of Indira Gandhi's assassination, and the 1994 genocide of Tutsis by Hutus in Rwanda offer fresh insights into the genesis and aftermath of these tragedies. The next four essays explore the expression of societal disaster in works of art and ritual. Lenin's image, Pablo Picasso's Guernica, balsa figurines of whites made by the Kuna of Panama, and Chinese fertility statuettes after Mao Zedong's Great Leap Forward are the subjects taken up by Leah Dickerman, Carlo Ginzburg, Carlo Severi, and Jun Jing. Disturbing Remains closes with three essays about the influence of the dead on the construction of shared identity. Istv�n R�v looks at how Hungarians have dealt with the 1956 revolution and its executed leader, and J�rn R�sen and Saul Friedl�nder contemplate the public memory of the Holocaust in Germany and worldwide.

Seven Types of Atheism

Seven Types of Atheism

From the provocative author of Straw Dogs comes an incisive, surprising intervention in the political and scientific debate over religion and atheism When you explore older atheisms, you will find that some of your firmest convictions—secular or religious—are highly questionable. If this prospect disturbs you, what you are looking for may be freedom from thought. For a generation now, public debate has been corroded by a shrill, narrow derision of religion in the name of an often vaguely understood “science.” John Gray’s stimulating and enjoyable new book, Seven Types of Atheism, describes the complex, dynamic world of older atheisms, a tradition that is, he writes, in many ways intertwined with and as rich as religion itself. Along a spectrum that ranges from the convictions of “God-haters” like the Marquis de Sade to the mysticism of Arthur Schopenhauer, from Bertrand Russell’s search for truth in mathematics to secular political religions like Jacobinism and Nazism, Gray explores the various ways great minds have attempted to understand the questions of salvation, purpose, progress, and evil. The result is a book that sheds an extraordinary light on what it is to be human.

The Soul of the Marionette

A Short Inquiry into Human Freedom

The Soul of the Marionette

Compared with that of humans, the life of the marionette looks more like an enviable state of freedom In his brilliantly enjoyable and freewheeling new book, John Gray draws together the religious, philosophic, and fantastical traditions that question the very idea of human freedom. We flatter ourselves about the nature of free will and yet the most enormous forces—logical, physical, metaphysical—constrain our every action. Many writers and intellectuals have always understood this, but instead of embracing our condition we battle against it, with everyone from world conquerors to modern scientists dreaming of a "human dominion" almost comically at odds with our true state. Filled with wonderful examples and drawing on the widest possible reading (from the Gnostics to Philip K. Dick), The Soul of the Marionette is a stimulating and engaging meditation on everything from cybernetics to the fairground marionettes of the title.

The Silence of Animals

On Progress and Other Modern Myths

The Silence of Animals

The powerful, beautiful and chilling sequel to the bestselling Straw Dogs John Gray draws on an extraordinary array of memoirs, poems, fiction and philosophy to make us re-imagine our place in the world. Writers as varied as Ballard, Borges, Freud and Conrad are mesmerised by forms of human extremity - experiences on the outer edge of the possible, or which tip into fantasy and myth. What happens to us when we starve, when we fight, when we are imprisoned? And how do our imaginations leap into worlds way beyond our real experience? The Silence of Animals is consistently fascinating, filled with unforgettable images and a delight in the conundrum of our existence - an existence which we decorate with countless myths and ideas, where we twist and turn to avoid acknowledging that we too are animals, separated from the others perhaps only by our self-conceit. In the Babel we have created for ourselves, it is the silence of animals that both reproaches and bewitches us. Reviews: 'The Silence of Animals is a new kind of book from Gray, a sort of poetic reverie on the human state, on the state, that is, of the human animal ... He blends lyricism with wisdom, humour with admonition, nay-saying with affirmation, making in the process a marvellous statement of what it is to be both an animal and a human in the strange, terrifying and exquisite world into which we straw dogs find ourselves thrown' John Banville, Guardian 'Interesting, original and memorable ... The Silence of Animals is a beautifully written book, the product of a strongly questioning mind. It is effectively an anthology with detailed commentary, setting out one rich and suggestive episode after another' Philip Hensher, Spectator About the author: John Gray has been Professor of Politics at Oxford University, Visiting Professor at Harvard and Yale and Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics. He now writes full time. His books include False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals and The Immortalization Commission: The Strange Quest to Cheat Death. His selected writings, Gray's Anatomy, was published in 2009.

Constellations

A Play

Constellations

"A singular astonishment." —John Lahr, The New Yorker One relationship. Infinite possibilities. In the beginning Marianne and Roland meet at a party. They go for a drink, or perhaps they don't. They fall madly in love and start dating, but eventually they break up. After a chance encounter in a supermarket they get back together, or maybe they run into each other and Marianne reveals that she's now engaged to someone else and that's that. Or perhaps Roland is engaged. Maybe they get married, or maybe their time together will be tragically short. Nick Payne's Constellations is a play about free will and friendship; it's also about quantum multiverse theory, love, and honey.

What Galileo Saw

Imagining the Scientific Revolution

What Galileo Saw

The Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century has often been called a decisive turning point in human history. It represents, for good or ill, the birth of modern science and modern ways of viewing the world. In What Galileo Saw, Lawrence Lipking offers a new perspective on how to understand what happened then, arguing that artistic imagination and creativity as much as rational thought played a critical role in creating new visions of science and in shaping stories about eye-opening discoveries in cosmology, natural history, engineering, and the life sciences. When Galileo saw the face of the Moon and the moons of Jupiter, Lipking writes, he had to picture a cosmos that could account for them. Kepler thought his geometry could open a window into the mind of God. Francis Bacon's natural history envisioned an order of things that would replace the illusions of language with solid evidence and transform notions of life and death. Descartes designed a hypothetical "Book of Nature" to explain how everything in the universe was constructed. Thomas Browne reconceived the boundaries of truth and error. Robert Hooke, like Leonardo, was both researcher and artist; his schemes illuminate the microscopic and the macrocosmic. And when Isaac Newton imagined nature as a coherent and comprehensive mathematical system, he redefined the goals of science and the meaning of genius. What Galileo Saw bridges the divide between science and art; it brings together Galileo and Milton, Bacon and Shakespeare. Lipking enters the minds and the workshops where the Scientific Revolution was fashioned, drawing on art, literature, and the history of science to reimagine how perceptions about the world and human life could change so drastically, and change forever.

Feline Philosophy

Cats and the Meaning of Life

Feline Philosophy

The author of Straw Dogs, famous for his provocative critiques of scientific hubris and the delusions of progress and humanism, turns his attention to cats—and what they reveal about humans' torturous relationship to the world and to themselves. Cats do not need to be instructed in the good life. Obeying their nature, they are content with the life that it gives them. In humans, on the other hand, discontent with our nature seems only natural. The human animal never ceases striving for higher meaning. Cats, however, make no such effort. They are just happy to be themselves. That is why cats have no need for philosophy. They already know how to live. So writes John Gray in this incisive new book about the follies of human exceptionalism and what we can learn from the animals that have long captured our imaginations. The history of philosophy has been a "predictably tragic" succession of palliatives for human disquiet. Thinkers from Spinoza to Berdyaev have pursued the perennial questions of how to be happy, how to be good, and how to be loved—all of which held no relevance to their feline companions. In Feline Philosophy, Gray introduces us to some of these unburdened counterparts, showing how they approached issues of love and attachment, mortality, morality, and the Self: Montaigne's house cat, whose un-examined life may have been the one worth living; Meo, the Vietnam War survivor with an unshakable capacity for "fearless joy"; and Colette's Saha, the feline heroine of her subversive short story "The Cat", a parable about the pitfalls of human jealousy. The nature of cats, and what we can learn from it, is the subject of this book—and through it, Gray delivers a profound, thought-provoking meditation on just how vulnerable it is to be human.