venerdì 11 ottobre 2013

Another interview with Colby Dickinson on Agamben @ An und für sich blog, 10.Oct.2013

Another interview with Colby Dickinson on Giorgio Agamben

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1. What are the peculiarities of faith in contemporary continental thought?
In many ways, I think we are continuously reiterating a particular historical tension, that between a normative measure (or rule) and those who seek to oppose or undo it, what I would call the supposed ‘antinomian’ (anti-nomos or ‘law’) movements that we still don’t know what to do with in either religious or political terms. For its part, antinomianism arose as a label used during the Reformation to describe those who were seemingly wanting to do away with law altogether—those who in effect read Martin Luther’s critique of the Catholic system (i.e. its ‘rules’, canon law, system of indulgences, etc.) as being a departure in some sense from all law. In many ways, this response was something already embedded in Jesus’ positioning of himself in relation to Judaic Law, and this possibility only further inflamed the passions of some of Luther’s most devout followers. Luther, however, as we know, had to try to stop such antinomian measures from going too far away from the ‘rule of God’, which Luther himself still wanted to maintain in some form. As we recall, there were still too many connections for Luther to draw between the established Church on earth and existing structures of political power; he sought therefore in his writings to maintain some allegiance to the form of law and its ‘necessity’, and its ability to utilize the ‘sword’ in order to restrain its unruly citizens was something he took great interest in linking to God’s ordering of society.
What I am particularly fascinated by today is the manner in which contemporary continental thought has returned us to the contemplation of this fundamental ‘antinomian’ impulse that undergirds many revolutionary political and religious movements. In many ways—and Jacob Taubes takes this up directly in his lectures on The Political Theology of Paul—Christianity itself is perhaps the original antinomian impulse in relation to Judaism (Judaic Law, or Torah). This is something he extracts from Gershom Scholem’s studies on messianic movements within Judaic history, in particular the story of Sabbatai Zevi. As Giorgio Agamben would later rehearse such impulses (and with citations of Sabbatai Zevi being present in his work as well), there is an internal messianic ‘antinomian’ impulse perhaps within Judaism that challenges its normative representations of itself (as when the prophets cry out against the structures of religious ritual, when a notion of a Messiah first develops, etc.). This last point is seemingly only further underscored by Jacques Derrida’s many formulations of the messianic as an internal deconstructive force working within a given structure, a sentiment which has been read as being either Jewish (G. Ofrat), atheistic (M. Hägglund) or even Christian (L. Lawlor). My response to such diverse readings has been to say that all of them are correct in a sense, because all are trying to access that central, messianic core of our political and religious thought that continues to motivate the restructuring of our given (social, cultural, political, religious and even economic) norms. We continue to try to find new ways to describe why we are constantly giving birth to new paradigms, and we continuously come up against a wall: where does revolutionary reform come from? How do we alter the structures that appear to be unchangeable and upon which so many people depend (‘have faith in’) for their everyday lives? Derrida’s answer, much like Agamben’s in this regard, is that it comes from within what was already operational as a canonical structural form, but one that has been pushed to its limits and is in the process of becoming aware of its limitations within a new context and its need for more justice to be done.
What I sense at present is that the foundations of (organized) faith is being given a second glance within contemporary continental-philosophical thinkers because it seems to adhere to (or perhaps even generate) the fundamental dynamics that lie beneath our political and ethical paradigms in the West. As much as we might culturally seek to turn away from organized religious traditions, there is something persistent within them that deserves attention, even the attention of self-proclaimed atheists (and I think the current Pope is aware of this, and playing to some of this desire with his public remarks). I read Slavoj Žižek’s continuing reference to Christianity as just such an example of how we are greatly in need today of reformulating what it means to read the relationship between religion and politics as central to our present grid of culturally intelligible forms—even, perhaps especially, when people think that faith is becoming obsolete for many. (... A suivre/ Read the full interview)

Pic post: evangelista san Luca by antonio calandriello

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