Our political age is characterized by forms of description as 'big' as the world itself: talk of 'public knowledge' and 'public goods,' 'the commons' or 'global justice' create an exigency for modes of governance that leave little room for smallness itself. Rather than question the politics of adjudication between the big and the small, this book inquires instead into the cultural epistemology fueling the aggrandizement and miniaturization of description itself. Incorporating analytical frameworks from science studies, ethnography, and political and economic theory, this book charts an itinerary for an internal anthropology of theorizing. It suggests that many of the effects that social theory uses today to produce insights are the legacy of baroque epistemological tricks. In particular, the book undertakes its own trompe l'oeil as it places description at perpendicular angles to emerging forms of global public knowledge. The aesthetic 'trap' of the trompe l'oeil aims to capture knowledge, for only when knowledge is captured can it be properly released.
What is the point of rescuing a lady from her kidnappers if she refuses to be rescued? The answer leads to the mystery of The Club of Queer Trades.
"Cherub" Swinburne and his friends, brothers Basil and Rupert Grant, use their best sleuthing efforts to understand The Club of Queer Trades -- a club that demands its members earn their living in odd and unusual ways.
This is Edwardian detective work at its finest, with Chesterton's wit and style making each of the six tales within the book a delight to read.