Joshua Mostafa at The Sydney Review of Books:
Reading the German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk is always enjoyable. Every page of Globes is littered with aphoristic bon mots (adroitly translated by Wieland Hoban), many of which could serve as the central insight of a chapter, or even the whole, of a less rich and ambitious text. This succinct and acerbic put-down of reductionism will suffice as an example: ‘modernity is the self-fulfilment of the analytical myth that gives the smallest parts precedence over their composites’. One might expect that this flair for the micro-unit of literary composition – the sentence – would lend itself to the work of a miniaturist, a writer of essays after the manner of Michel de Montaigne. But Sloterdijk does not confine himself to small pieces, writing books of varying sizes: Globes is probably his largest – over 1000 pages – and is itself only the middle volume in his magnum opus, the Spheres trilogy.
The publisher of Spheres, Semiotext(e), is best known for its English translations of French philosophy. Sloterdijk, though he writes in German, owes at least as much to French thinkers as German ones, and the German philosophers with whom he shows the most affinity are often shunned in Germany itself, due to the tarnishing of their reputations through association with the country’s shameful Nazi past – either directly, as in the case of Margin Heidegger, or by retrospective appropriation, as with Friedrich Nietzsche. To engage with these philosophers has come to be seen as disreputable, but a variety of French thinkers have built on the work of Nietzsche. As Sloterdijk puts it, ‘it was the great stroke of luck of my intellectual life that I encountered these French Nietzscheans at a point when it was inconceivable to read Nietzsche in Germany.’