In light of the analysis offered by Terence Blake, here and in many other posts, regarding the anxiety of influence under which Latour might seem to operate, the following can only ever be a banal observation. But here it is anyway: if anyone was to ask me to delineate Latour’s intellectual heritage in one media-friendly sound-bite, I would probably go for the four S’s: Serres, Souriau, Sloterdijk, Schmitt. Such a formula is redolent of the pointless truncations required of social media exchanges. Clearly, these four have not been bed-fellows from the very beginning of Latour’s journey (with the exception of Serres). And yet, even if the latter three are more recent encounters, I might at least claim that these four donate conceptual cross-hairs or straie that are essential to an understanding of Latour’s entire system of thought, not least in its recent iteration (in the case of Serres, agency; in the case of Souriau, instauration; in the case of Sloterdijk, monogeism; in the case of Schmitt, political theology). (In fact, if you wanted a more contumacious soundbite answer to the original question about Latour’s intellectual heritage, how about the three D’s: Deleuze, Dagognet, Derrida. But that’s another post).
To that end, I was pleased to read this recent guide to Sloterdijk’s work. There seems to be a proliferation of these quick-guides on the market these days. But I’ve enjoyed others in this series. And Couture’s is a very helpful one indeed, I think, especially given how hard it is for a non-German speaker to access Sloterdijk’s thought in its entirety at this moment in time.
Couture provides a diachronic exploration of Sloterdijk’s thought as it morphs through psychopolitics to anthropotechnics to spherology, whilst simultaneously tracing back these myriad (and apparently disparate) refractions to a singular and highly coherent world-view prism. His explanatory descriptions are at times is highly imaginative in their own right, notably the vehicle tour of the foam-globe-bubble museum at the end of chapter 3 (which reminded me of the bubble cars in Jurassic World).