Monthly Archives: August 2013

Johannine Politics – Part 1: Introduction

Influenced by the recent surge of interest in the political ramifications of Paul’s thought (see: Badiou, Saint Paul: The Foundation of Universalism; Zizek, Milbank, & Davis, Paul’s New Moment: Continental Philosophy and the Future of Christian Theology; etc.) as well as the work of Raymond E. Brown I have decided to put together a short series of posts examining an alternate biblical source of political thought, imagining the possible shape of a Johannine politics

In The Churches the Apostles Left Us, Brown writes, “Johannine ecclesiology is the most attractive and exciting in the NT. Alas, it is also the least stable” (pg. 123). In the vein of this thought, and following the Paul-enthusiasts tendency to adapt ecclesiological insights as political ideas, these investigations will begin with a consideration of some of the enticing and powerful characteristics of a Johannine politics, before moving into some of the instabilities and risks inherent to such a philosophy. Although by no means firm, the tentative outline of the subjects of these posts will be as follows:

  1. Introduction
  2. Egalitarianism
  3. The Spirit
  4. Subversion
  5. Eschatology
  6. Schism
  7. Violence
  8. Conclusion

As always, some deep resonances between this philosophy and the work of prominent continental philosophers can be expected. So far, I anticipate engagement with my standard cast-of-characters–Derrida, Caputo, Henry, Marx, Zizek–as well as some Deleuzian insights as I have recently begun my foray into Difference and Repetition in conjunction with some of Caputo’s lectures on Deleuze. 

 

D&R Reading Group Week Two

Deleuze Difference and Repetition reading group #2 in a little less than two hours! See you there! [Link]

(FYI, Location has changed since last week due to problems with tinychat)

Deleuze Reading Group Tonight

We will be kicking off the Deleuze Difference and Repetition reading group in just over an hour! Beginning tonight with the introduction to this difficult text. See you there! [Link]

One Week until the Deleuze Reading Group Kickoff

Just one week until the first meeting of the Deleuze Difference & Repetition reading group. Better get in on this.

Deconstructing Difference?

In After the Death of God, John D. Caputo writes that:

“Were a democracy to come–and it cannot came, that would not be possible for it to actually come–it would not be a place in which there is pure harmony or perfect “peace.” It would be a place in which there would be endless and irreconcilable differences, a profusion of differences that would be adjudicated without killing one another. “

John D. Caputo

Though an intriguing and compelling presentation of political messianism, this post will not be about democracy, nor about politics. Instead, I am here interested in the relationship between the different and the same. Caputo’s thought, and really deconstruction in general (if not all thought that takes Levinas’s philosophy of alterity as one of its founding intuitions) resists totalization, looks forward to the incoming of the other, seeks to break with the ontology of presence: simply, deconstruction is a philosophy of difference (or, perhaps better, différance). The Same is a questionable enemy, a source of oppression, violence waiting to happen. The same exludes the different, or worse, absorbs the different, destroying its alterity in a burst of assimilating power. But, it must be asked, to what extent, does this “binarity” (to use one of Caputo’s terms), re-inscribe deconstruction within the very paradigm it is trying to escape? For, deconstruction places itself in opposition to simple binary schemas of this or that, being and nothing, male and female, writing and speaking, etc, etc… . Consistency, it seems, would require that this same resistance be brought to bear on the same and the different. In Deconstruction in a Nutshell, Caputo writes:

“When presented with a neat distinction or opposition of this sort … [Derrida/deconstruction] will look around–in the text itself–for some third thing which the distinction omits, some untruth, or barely true remnant, which falls outside the famous distinction, which the truth of either separately or both together fails to capture, which is neither and both of the two.”

Jacques Derrida

It must be asked, then, is the opposition between the same and the different too “neat”? How is the eternal struggle of the same and the different not precisely the sort of meta-narrative that deconstruction seeks to expose the limits of? For, as Caputo vigorously argues, every binarity can be clearly identified by its hierarchical structure, because ever binary inevitably develops into an us/them, good/bad, pure/impure, that is to say, every seemingly descriptive schema, hides an implicit normative schema. Yet, we see, in the elevation of absolute difference over the “violent” totality of the same, exactly such a hierarchy.

Should we, then, “look around–in the text itself–for some third thing which the distinction omits”?

Should deconstruction itself be deconstructed?