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How to Stop Living and Start Worrying: Conversations with Carl Cederstrom Paperback – 1 Oct 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 152 pages
  • Publisher: Polity Press; 1 edition (1 Oct. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745650392
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745650395
  • Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 1.3 x 21.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 747,908 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"An entertaining set of conversations with a bright star of philosophy." Boyd Tonkin, The Independent

"The pages are stuffed with reminiscence and intriguing passing ideas as well as more arguments (of greater or lesser plausability) than most books twice the length. The intellectual register soars and plunges in a pleasing rhythm." -  Steven Poole, The Guardian

"Apart from his charming autobiography, Critchley is remarkably adept at clearly explaining quite difficult ideas." - Nina Power, Philosophers′ Magazine

"Carl Cederstrom′s book of interviews with Simon Critchley, reminded me that I was not the only tinnitus–blighted Scouser to be fighting the good fight for ′Continental′ philosophy!" - Mark Thwaite, Ready Steady Book

"An indispensable resource to anyone interested in Critchley′s writing." -A Piece of Monologue  

"After reading this book, I was, I must admit, sorely tempted to answer Camus′s famous question in the affirmative." - David Shields, author of Reality Hunger

From the Back Cover

The question of how to lead a happy and meaningful life has been at the heart of philosophical debate since time immemorial. Today, however, these questions seem to be addressed not by philosophers but self–help gurus, who frantically champion the individual′s quest for self–expression and self–realization; the desire to become authentic.

Against these new age sophistries, How to Stop Living and Start Worrying tackles the question of ′how to live′ by forcing us to explore our troubling relationship with death. For Critchley, philosophy begins with the question of finitude and with his understanding of a key classical theme – that to philosophize is to learn how to die. Learning how to accept both our own and others′ mortality as a part of life also raises the question of how to love. Critchley argues that the act of love requires us to give up something of ourselves, to lose control so as to be open to the demands of love. We will never be equal to this demand and so we are brought face to face with our own limitations – one form of which is what Critchley calls our ′originary inauthenticity′. By scrutinizing the very nature of humour, Critchley explores what we need to laugh at ourselves and presents the need to confront the inescapable ridiculousness of life.

Reflecting on the work of over 20 years, this book provides a unique, witty and erudite introduction to the thought of Simon Critchley. It includes a revealing biographical conversation with Critchley and a fascinating debate with the critically acclaimed novelist Tom McCarthy about the nature of authenticity. Taken together the conversations give an intimate portrait of one of the most lucid, provocative and engaging philosophers writing today.


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Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By The Fisher Price King on 3 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is an extended interview, in which the philosopher Simon Critchley presents his views on various issues, such as love, death and humour. The Q&A approach makes it quite accessible, but ultimately I found it meandering and self-referential. Critchley likes soundbites - "Death is a non-issue", "humour is a consequence of original sin" - but this is a book that bristles with interesting ideas rather than mounting a sustained argument, and in the end it feels slight even if interesting.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. M. A. Reed TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 14 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
An entertaining twist on the usual, anodyne, and utterly useless YOU CAN DO IT!!! self-help fluff and twaddle, this addresses the rampaging issue of mortality, namely that We Are All Going To Die And We Can Do Nothing To Avoid It.

With such a cheery approach, this tackles the issue of humour as the survival mechanism that defines our lives in fighting the inevitable doom ofour eventual demise. Philosophy is presented relatively accessably, but without much in the way of substance. Taken in the form of transcruibed dialogue, it's similar to books with titles like "Barry White On Barry White", where a figure talks about themselves self-referentially. It reminds me of overhearing an oddly pretentious conversation about death by a flippant scientist in a pub on a Sunday afternoon - which obviously happens ALL THE TIME. An entertaining curio, but no more than that.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By TheLibrarian on 7 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
How to Stop Living and Start Worrying is essentially a long conversation with Simon Critchley published in book form. In the conversation he discusses various topics relating to life and the human condition. I have to admit that I didn't really enjoy the book, although some interesting points were made. I think the problem is that I have not read any of Simon Critchley's work before and really needed something along the lines of the 'A Very Short Introduction' range of books. The (rather sycophantic) introduction seems to assume that the reader is already familiar with Simon Critchley's work which did not help. I am sure that someone who is familiar with his work will get something out of the conversational format of this book.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The clever title reflects the preoccupations of the philosopher. The book is a collection of interviews, exploring his ideas about life and death and the importance of acceptance of death. This is fascinating: we live in a culture which does its best to deny the prospect of death in every aspect of life, beginning with religion, the supernatural/paranormal obsession in modern culture, and then proceeding through the use of euphemisms to even avoid discussing the subject.
Real meat here- but the book doesn't chew on it properly. Lots of ideas are thrown out- but not explored in any real depth.
Here's the problem: it seems churlish to complain about a book which explores really serious and important concepts and ideas, when ninety per cent of books don't even approach those ideas and that depth of thinking.
But, let's face it- this book will only be purchased by someone who is interested in philosophy. And they will expect more, much more than this.
This is a good little taster, and it is definitely worth reading. But could have been so much more.
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By Sam Woodward TOP 500 REVIEWER on 5 April 2013
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If philosophy is dead then this is the white tape marking out where the corpse lay.

This was my first encounter with Simon Critchley's work & it does not encourage me to read the rest. It's essentially a transcript of conversations between him & Carl Cederstrom, addressing the nature of humour & the usual staples of love & death. Being mere conversations, none of the subject are examined in any depth - it's a bit like chatting in a pub with an eloquent friend, but less fun. There's lots of soundbites but little explanation of how ideas were reached or even any attempts to expand & develop them. Thus faith or an existing familiarity with Critchley's work is required to gain much from it.

A somewhat lightweight read, seemingly aimed at people not looking for a lightweight read. A failed attempt to attract a mainstream audience, perhaps. I think they were trying to be humourous but the joke fell flat.
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By Mr. Nadim Bakhshov VINE VOICE on 29 April 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It would be unfair to be to critical of such a light book. It is an interview with Simon Critchley and is essentially a conversation about his life.

For those of you who know his writing will also know he had a famous spat with Zizek. For me, Zizek came out more successfully and Simon Critchley showed himself to be something of a strange half-in and half-out academic philosopher.

Learning more about him could have been an enjoyable experience but it came across as dull and rather dishonest. I'm sure there were some critical events and ideas that propelled him which he left out. Some things didn't add up....

What bothered me the most was this thought: is this the sharpest we have?

I find Critchley a little too academic and not enough a public thinker in the Kantian sense. He likes the jargon but I don't think he has really made much of contribution to scholarship - his book on Heidegger wasn't great.
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By light VINE VOICE on 15 Feb. 2011
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This rather slender volume is basically the transcript of a converstaion between Simon Critchley, a philosipher and an interviewer - Carl Cederstorm. The interview begins with Critchley's early life - how he rebelled at school, became a punk and transcended his working class background to become a first class mature student (early twenties). It then goes on to deal with estoreic questions about our attitudes to various aspects of life and in particular death. I found the first chapter vaguely engaging but was left with questions about how Critchley suddenly became such a genius and fluent in French. The subsequent chapters I found extremely dull, especially as I had never read any of Critchley's other books and these were constantly referenced and discussed in the interview.
Not for me.
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