Lars Iyer’s books began as a blog that documented the adventures and nonadventures of (fictional) Lars and W., two philosophy professors working in the UK. Their mutual affection is relayed primarily through the medium of insults, an art form they pursue with dedication and creativity. Nietzsche provides one of the pair’s many mottos: “In one’s friend one should have one’s best enemy.”
Spurious, which started the series, is emphatically a book about nothing. Our heroes bicker, drink gin, talk about the end times; they feel symptomatic of some great collapse, try to respond sincerely to that apocalyptic feeling, and bicker some more. Some narrative tension is provided by the damp affecting Lars’s flat, a fungus which occasionally attains a hallucinogenic beauty but mostly just makes the place smelly and uninhabitable. Lars lives there all the same, providing the damp with its metaphor, or vice versa — each is depicted as an ominous, dumb, incomprehensible force of nature. W. senses messianism in both friend and fungus, without really understanding what messianism is. They await the coming catastrophe, but in the end, of course, nothing happens.
Spurious has a light, aphoristic quality that belies its depth. In one of his books Deleuze notes (also via Nietzsche) the extravagance of asceticism: “The philosopher approaches the ascetic virtues — humility, poverty, chastity — and makes them serve ends completely his own, extraordinary ends that are not ascetic at all, in fact.” Which is to say: big things can come from stupid men in moldy flats eating stale sandwiches.