Most English audiences have not yet heard of Byung-Chul Han. Erik Butler’s recent translations of The Transparency Society (2015) and The Burnout Society (2015) by Stanford University Press are promising. The Korean-born German philosopher and cultural theorist currently teaches at the Universität der Künste in Berlin. He is the author of sixteen books and has been translated into over a dozen languages. He looks at our current drives to performance and transparency and its organization by neoliberal market forces. In an era of multimedia screens and hypercommunication, Han speaks on behalf of the secret, of shadows and opacity, of the inaction of contemplation, the Other, and—perhaps his foremost concern—negativity. Especially today, negativity is seldom upheld as scrupulously and taken with such seriousness as Han takes it. This is perhaps his primary contribution to contemporary theory. For Han “the society of transparency manifests first and...

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