Dust (Object Lessons)
Object Lessons is a series of short, beautifully designed books about the hidden lives of ordinary things.
No matter how much you fight against it, dust pervades everything. It gathers in even layers, adapting to the contours of things and marking the passage of time. In itself, it is also a gathering place, a random community of what has been and what is yet to be, a catalog of traces and a set of promises: dead skin cells and plant pollen, hair and paper fibers, not to mention dust mites who make it their home. And so, dust blurs the boundaries between the living and the dead, plant and animal matter, the inside and the outside, you and the world (“for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return”). This book treats one of the most mundane and familiar phenomena, showing how it can provide a key to thinking about existence, community, and justice today.
Object Lessons is published in partnership with an essay series in The Atlantic.
“In this inspiring and thought-provoking book, Michael Marder develops a fascinating phenomenology of dust, showing how, in a world overwhelmed by learned dust and dusty words, it is dust itself that teaches us about how to bring thoughts and words back to the things themselves. In Dust, we find a gem of philosophical prose.” – Marcia Sá Cavalcante Schuback, Professor of Philosophy, Södertörn Univerity, Sweden
“This gem of a book takes us to the dusty surface of our lives with finesse and fine wit. It shows the unsuspected depths of something quite literally superficial, something, which is, nonetheless, an integral part of all humans do and say, accompanying us at every turn until we become dust ourselves.” – Edward S. Casey, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, State University of New York at Stony Brook, USA, and author of The World at a Glance and The World on Edge.
“Yep, it's precisely what it looks like: a book about dust. Well, that and the ways this all-but-invisible matter, this ever-accumulating nothing, pervades and reflects our relationship with the world. Dense topics, to be sure, but Michael Marder's little book of philosophy - just one installment in a multiauthor series called Object Lessons - brings levity and loving care to his topic. It's brisk, brief and slim enough to fit in your pocket; what better way to embrace all the big ideas these tiny specks offer?” – NPR
“Marder's Dust offers a condensed critical theory take on the topic that conveys the significant scope of our human, bodily and philosophical relationship with dust. ... Dust animates and invites reflection on its object of study. Marder's perspective on the seemingly ordinary thing of dust is both thorough and enigmatic, with his observations importantly anchored to real-world examples. The author's writing style shows how dust gathers, through bringing together intellectual and philosophical fragments. He demonstrates the working of dust by drawing from many of its past theorists to create his 'dustography' ... In bridging disciplines, Marder's insights allow us to cross between theories just as the dust crosses borders.” – Continuum