The Greek-French thinker Kostas Axelos died earlier this year. He wasn’t very well known in the English speaking world, but in his adoptive home of France he was a major thinker and enabler of intellectual life. He was, for example, Heidegger’s interpreter at the Cerisy-la-salle conference where he gave the lecture ‘What is Philosophy?’ and facilitated the discussions with Lacan. He edited the journal Arguments and founded the book series of that name with Les Editions de Minuit, which published a range of important French thinkers and translations. His 1969 book Le jeu du monde is, for my money, one of the best books on the notion of the ‘world’ and a corrective to lazy thinking of globalisation. I’ve written a few pieces on Axelos, who was a friend and interlocutor with – among others – Lefebvre.
I met him only once, in 2004. I’d sent him a piece I’d written on his work and he sent me a very kind note, inviting me for dinner if I was in Paris. We arranged that I would interview him for the journal Radical Philosophy, but we spent most of the evening talking in a mixture of French and English about everyone he knew, what of their work was translated and lots of good stories.
We ended up doing the interview by correspondence. You can find it here.
The reason I’m writing this now is that in my post at Durham was a handwritten note from his partner, Katherina. I’d written her a letter when I knew that Axelos had died. He will be missed but hopefully some more of his really interesting work can be translated. Only one of his books and a few shorter pieces are to date.