Archive for October, 2009

Cone on the Cross and Lynching Tree


Here’s Cone’s controversial speech he delivered at Harvard three years ago, uncomfortable but as always provocative and inspiring.

Foucault’s Misunderstanding of Repression


So, I wrote a post a couple of weeks ago on why I was studying psychoanalysis and attempted to elucidate some concepts that are often poorly understood. I tried to counter Foucault’s understanding of the repressive hypothesis that he believed was false because his analysis unearthed a plethora of discourses of sexuality that had proliferated during Freud’s era.

Zizek drives this home in First as Tragedy then as Farce,

“This is why Lacan claimed that Marx had already invented the (Freudian) notion of a symptom: for both Marx and Freud, the way to the truth of a system (of society, of the psyche) leads through what necessarily appears as a “pathological” marginal and accidental distortion of this system: slips of tongue, dreams, symptoms, economic crises. The Freudian Unconscious is thus “invisible” in an exactly homologous way, which is why there is no place for it in Foucault’s edifice. This is why Foucault’s rejection of what he calls the Freudian “repression hypothesis” – his notion of regulatory power discourses which generate sexuality in the very act of describing and regulating it-misses the (Freudian) point. Freud and Lacan were well aware that there is no repression without the return of the repressed; they were well aware that the repressive discourse generates what it represses. However, what this discourse represses is not what it appears to repress, not what it itself takes to be the threatening X it seeks to control. The figures of “sexuality” it portrays as the threat to be controlled-such as the figure of the Woman, whose uncontrolled sexuality is a threat to the masculine order-are themselves fantasmatic mystifications. Rather, what this discourse “represses” is (among other things) its own contami­nation by what it tries to control-say, the way the sacrifice of sexuality sexualizes sacrifice itself, or the manner in which the effort to control sexuality sexualizes this controlling activity itself. Sexuality is thus, of course, not “invisible” – it is controlled and regulated. What is “invisible” is the sexualization of this very work of control: not the elusive object we try to control, but the mode of our own participation within it.” (101-102)

Zizek’s Critique of Caputo


In After the Death of God, John Caputo made this comment against Marxist philosophers:

“‘I would be perfectly happy if the far left politicians in the United States were able to reform the system by providing universal health care, effectively redistributing wealth more equitably with a revised IRS code, effectively restricting campaign financing, enfranchising all voters, treating migrant workers humanely, and effecting a multilateral foreign policy that would integrate American power within the international community, etc., i.e., intervene upon capitalism by means of serious and far-reaching reforms . . . . If after doing all that Badiou and Zizek complained that some Monster called Capital still stalks us, I would be inclined to greet that Monster with a yawn.’ The problem here is not Caputo’s conclusion that if one can achieve all that within capitalism, why not remain within the system? The problem lies with the “utopian” premise that it is possible to achieve all that within the coordinates of global capitalism. What if the particular malfunctionings of capitalism enumerated by Caputo are not merely accidental disturbances but are rather structurally necessary? What if Caputo’s dream is a dream of universality (of the universal capitalist order) without its symptoms, without any critical points in which its “repressed truth” articulates itself?” (First as Tragedy Then as Farce, 77-78)

Zizek and Political Ideology Today


From First as Tragedy Then as Farce:

“A true Left takes a crisis seriously, without illusions, but as some­
thing inevitable, as a chance to be fully exploited. The basic insight of
the radical Left is that although crises are painful and dangerous they
are ineluctable, and that they are the terrain on which battles have to be
waged and won. The difference between liberalism and the radical Left
is that, although they refer to the same three elements (liberal center,
populist Right, radical Left), they locate them in a radically different
topology: for the liberal center, the radical Left and the Right are two
forms of the same “totalitarian” excess; while for the Left, the only true
alternative is the one between itself and the liberal mainstream, the
populist “radical” Right being nothing but the symptom of liberalism’s
inability to deal with the Leftist threat.” (75)

Altizer’s Latest Appearance


So, I just began reading Zizek’s new book, and I was quite surprised to see that Altizer was quoted commenting on the Taliban and Obama. Apparently it was communicated through personal communication with Zizek. They’ll also be appearing this together year at AAR together in Montreal, damn I’d love to go.

Here’s the quote:

“Now it is finally being revealed that the Taliban is a genuine liberating force assaulting an ancient feudal rule in Pakistan and freeing the vast peasant majority from that rule…Hopefully we will now hear genuine criticism of the Obama administration which is far more dangerous than the Bush administration both because it is being given such a free hand and because it is a far stronger administration” (First as Tragedy, then as Farce, 72).

Free Audio Files


Ever since I started working this new office job 24 hours a week, I’ve been doing some research on websites for free audiobooks and lectures. Here are a couple of sites that are very helpful. It’s amazing, I listened to Kafka’s Metamorphosis today. Also, I may try and listen to Moby Dick and Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, which would only take about 2 weeks at work.

For free audio books that are in the public domain:

Great video lectures by Zizek, Agamben, and Nancy:

Everything you’ve ever wanted by Zizek on audio or video:

Harvey’s seminar on Marx’s Capital:

Berkeley course by Dreyfus on Being and Time:

Theology audio files:

and Caputo just posted some audio files to his classes:

Anyway, enough of that. Enjoy!

Soelle’s Christ the Representative


Read this. I say that about many of the books that I read, but this was an incredible attempt to rethink Christology through the notion of representation in our post-Christian age. Here are too many quotes from a wonderful work:

“A real identification is only possible when the on who punishes suffers no less than the punishment than the one being punished. Representing us provisionally, Christ punishes us in such a way that he suffers himself. That is just what being a teacher means” (120)

“For long enough God was known as absolute immediacy, more certain even than one’s own self. All previous known forms of the Christian religion have presupposed a direct relationship to God, and are therefore in jeopardy the moment God ceases to be needed as a working hypothesis in morality, politics, and science.” (131)

“The absence of God can be interpreted as one mode of his being-for-us. In this case, man depends on there being someone to represent the irreplaceable God. Nietzsche’s statement ‘God is dead’ is then transposed into the requirement that God must be represented…To say that God must be represented is to say that he is-for the moment-not present…Christ represents the absent God so long as God does not permit us to see himself…But in view of this hope, what Nietzsche calls the death of God…is in fact only the death of God’s immediacy-the death of his unmediated form, the dissolving of a particular conception of God in the consciousness.” (132-133)

“Because God mediated himself into the world, all immediacy has come to an end since Christ. God now appears in mediation, in representation. Christ plays God’s role in the world-that and nothing else is what incarnation means. With this way of mediation, there is of course no longer any room for lordship, or power, or any of the other kingly attributes to God.” (141)

“Christ did not cling to his being with God…but we cling longingly to happiness as something supremely precious. If Christ had been as we are, he would never have left heaven. But he left heaven and let happiness go…In fact there is only one chance for man to cut loose from his so deep-rooted longing for happiness; the way of love. In the existence for others, the search for personal identity becomes unnecessary. Love does not insist on heaven. It does not need it.” (146)

“Jesus continues to hang on the cross and will not let himself be persuaded to come down from the cross by those who would prefer him to do so, whether to ascend into heaven or be buried, once and for all. We still cannot expect an end to humiliation and depersonalization. In a world whose characteristic is the interchangeability of all men, God’s identity is still in the future. For Christ come down from the cross would mean his consent to the depersonalization of all men. By continuing to suffer, he maintains his kingdom which has not yet appeared, he remains a powerless advocate in man’s behalf, the actors who plays the role of God.” (147-148)

“Only in Christ does it become clear that we can put God to death because he has put himself in our hands. Only since Christ has God become dependent on us. Christ did not identify himself with a calm spectator of all our troubles. Christ, by his teaching, life and death, made plain the helplessness of God in the world; the suffering of unrequited and unsuccessful love. (151)

“When time was fulfilled, God had done something for us for long enough. He put himself at risk, made himself dependent upon us, identified himself with the non-identical. From now, it is high time for us to do something for him” (152)

Interesting Discussion


So, Blake Huggins posted a paper on theology to which I’ve just responded. You can read the blog post and comments here:

Derrida and Keller


One thing that never ceases to frustrate me is when philosophers caricature Derrida as a nihilist who believes that we can make texts say anything we want. Right now, I’m reading S. Shakespeare’s new book Derrida and Theology. It’s a fairly even-handed presentation of Derrida’s work, and I really enjoy that he spends the majority of time actually in Derrida’s text, teasing out the theological gems. I’m looking forward to the end where he discusses theological appropriations of Derrida ranging from Altizer to Taylor to Caputo to Milbank to Keller. The diversity of interpretation of Derrida’s theological insights ranging from a death of god theologian, to a negative theologian, to a secular postmodern nihilist, to a radical atheist speak volumes of just how complex and dense Derrida’s corpus is.

Much of Derrida’s critique of onto-theology stems from his belief in theology’s penchant for being a totalizing system that suppresses all difference for the sake of unity. Hence, God is inextricably linked to the primary arche from which all of creation beings. That is to say creation ex nihilo. This is where Catherine Keller’s magnificent work The Face of the Deep comes in handy. While I don’t generally like process theology as I am suspect of most natural theology (here Barth was certainly right). Keller argues that lurking beneath the text rests a different interpretation, one that has been ignored by theologians for thousands of years. As opposed to typical picture of God hanging out in outerspace playing checkers with Jesus in the dark, until he decides to “Let there be Light”. Keller unearths in the text a new understanding of creation where matter was always already there. God does not create being out of nothing, rather his job like a beloved caretaker is to call creation good and bless it. He paints creation and breathes life into it.

Read Keller’s book if you want to see a fascinating mixture of post-structuralism of Derrida and Deleuze with Whitehead and some superb literary studies of Moby Dick and the book of Job, along with her re-fashioning of the creation myth.

Church Dogmatics


Apparently if you read 25 pages every day of Barth’s massive tome you can finish in one year. I should do something like that next year or maybe re-read the Hebrew Bible. Two years ago I read the New Testament, and I’ve read the gospels a couple of times in the last two years. Or I suppose I could read Lacan’s seminars instead. Perhaps, Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams and Psychopathology of Everyday Life. Maybe Kant’s Three Critiques or Hegel’s Phenomenology, Science of Logic, and Philosophy of History. So many books.

However, Barth is certainly the most important theologian of the last 100 years, and it seems fitting to find out exactly why. I have my reservations about Karl, but I recognize just how intelligent and penetrating so many of his insights were especially his ‘Nein!’ to liberal theology and National Socialsm.

I’d also like to make my way through Pannenberg’s Systematic Theology as well. I’ve enjoyed his work so much already. I liked him all the more because he published his great work on Christology, Jesus: God and Man much to Barth’s chagrin. Part of me would like to read Tillich’s Systematic Theology as well. However, I find myself not as attracted to Tillich’s thought because of its diluted sense of history and its overly-Heideggerian emphasis.

I have so many things I want to read, but it’s hard knowing in what direction to head. I wanna continue reading philosophy, theology, and Marxist thinkers but at the same time I feel pressured to become more knowledgeable about psychoanalysis to stay up to date on the field. Oh the choices…