U., the (anti-)hero of Tom McCarthy’s new novel Satin Island, is a 21st-century Man Without Qualities. This “corporate anthropologist” has been given the job of writing the “Great Report” – the “First and Last Word on our age”. The ambition is similar to the task faced by artists today, the near impossibility of mapping the contemporary landscape. What forms can resistance take, if it is even still possible? Spike’s editor-at-large Alexander Scrimgeour talks with Tom McCarthy and curator Nicolas Bourriaud.