The Life Intense

A Modern Obsession

Tristan Garcia
Translated by Abigail RayAlexander, Christopher RayAlexander, Jon Cogburn

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Analyses our modern obsession with intense experiences in terms of the metaphysics of intensity
  • Read an extract from The Life Intense, 'What electricity has done to thought', on the Edinburgh University Press blog

Our lives today are oppressed by the demand that we live, feel and experience with ever greater intensity. We are enticed to try exotic flavours and smells; urged to enjoy a wide range of sexual experiences; pushed to engage in extreme sports and recreational drugs – all in the pursuit of some new, unheard-of intensity.

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Series Editor’s Preface

Translators’ Introduction


1. An Image

2. An idea

3. A Concept

4. A moral ideal

5. An ethical ideal

6. An opposing concept

7. An opposing idea

8. An opposing image



An erudite study [that] argues that our appetite for new thrills is leaving us indifferent to the values of subtlety and compromise.
Tim Adams, The Guardian
Tristan Garcia demonstrates how at the most encompassing level of contemporary social roles lives the Romantic consumerist, forever seeking spiritually heightened experiences: what he like Pater calls intensity. We’re all Baudelaires now. Ecological ethics and politics ignores this at its peril: all that talk of efficiency and anti-consumerism seems to want to bypass this inconvenient truth. An ecological future must voyage through intensity…and for that we need maps. Garcia establishes some key coordinates for such a mission.
Timothy Morton, author of Being Ecological
Tristan Garcia is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Lyon and an award-winning novelist. He is the author of La vie intense: Une obsession moderne, translated into English as The Life Intense: A Modern Obsession (Edinburgh University Press, 2018) and Forme et objet. Un traité des choses (PUF, 2011), translated into English as Form and Object: A Treatise on Things (Edinburgh University Press, 2014). His other philosophical works include L’Image and Nous. His fictional works include Les cordelettes de Browser, En l’absence de classement final and Mémoires de la jungle. In 2008, he received the Prix de Flore for La meilleure part des hommes, translated into English as Hate: A Romance.

Abigail RayAlexander is Assistant Professor of French at Kennesaw State University

Christopher RayAlexander is an independent scholar

Jon Cogburn is Professor of Philosophy at Louisiana State University. He is co-translator of The Life Intense: A Modern Obsession. Together with Mark Ohm, he is the co-translator of Tristan Garcia’s Form and Object, and is the author of Garcian Meditations: The Dialectics of Persistence in Form and Object (Edinburgh University Press, 2017).

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