Mortal Thought: Hölderlin and Philosophy

Mortal Thought: Hölderlin and Philosophy

Bloomsbury Publishing (July 28, 2016)

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Mortal Thought: Holderlin and Philosophy

Mortal Thought will be published in 28 July 2016 by Bloomsbury Publishing.

Mortal Thought

Holderlin and Philosophy

Mortal Thought explores the radical philosophical innovations of the poet-philosopher Friedrich Hölderlin (1770-1843) and their seminal influence upon philosophy from the 19th century to the present day. The study casts into relief Hölderlin as a tragic philosopher in the age of romanticism, responsible, according to Foucault, for the radical ‘return of time’ to Western thought. Beginning with the point of departure of Hölderlin in Kant and the post-Kantian debates, Luchte explores the emergence of Hölderlin as poet-philosopher and revolutionary, his influence upon the four dominant strands of Continental philosophy – Nietzsche, Heidegger, Critical Theory and post-structuralism – and his relevance for our own era.

Friedrich-Hoelderlin-Pastell-aus-dem-Jahr-1792

A Moment of Conversation in Shanghai

A Moment of Conversation in Shanghai

A Moment of Conversation in Shanghai - James Luchte

 Go to: The Tragic Community: Friedrich Nietzsche and Mao Tse Tung

Marx and the Revolution of the Sacred

Marx and the Revolution of the Sacred

James Luchte

marx

Religious suffering is at one and the same time the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions.  It is the opium of the people. [1]

Religion is the general theory of that world, its encyclopaedic compendium, its logic in a popular form, its spiritualistic point d’honneur, its enthusiasm, its moral sanction, its solemn complement, its universal source of consolation and justification.  It is the fantastic realization of the human essence because the human essence has no true reality.  The struggle against religion is therefore indirectly a fight against the world of which religion is the spiritual aroma.[2]

Perhaps the most formidable obstacle in the task of retrieving a sense of the sacred in Marx consists in his repeated, and often polemical, statements against religion – or the edited selections of his editors and guardians.  Indeed, such an obstacle may in the end be one of our own making, as we are trapped within the labyrinth of our own historical understanding.[3] Yet, assuming, for the moment, that religion and the sacred are the same phenomena, if we take his pronouncement that religion is the opium of the people – which I purposely left out in the opening quotation – in isolation, we may be lead to believe that Marx felt that at best religion – and thus the ‘sacred’ – is a narcotic, which while it may be utilized to alleviate pain, remains an illusory amelioration for a situation of humiliation and despair.  Religion is an opiate in that it not only implies sedation from the pain of a life of exploitation, but also – ambivalently – suggests a systematic and strategic attempt to deaden or absorb any critical impulse to liberation.  In this sense, Marx’s characterization of religion as an opiate is a forerunner of many of the most radical criticisms of religion and ‘negative’ theology in last century – Gutierrez, Miranda, Bultmann, Heidegger, Derrida, and Bataille.  Each of these thinkers, in his own way, articulated a sense of the sacred in the wake of Marx and his deconstruction of religion as an ‘ideology’ – despite, perhaps, his own generation’s scientistic blindness to the regulative status of all ideas.

The kinship which is shared by each of these thinkers is a disdain for mere religion in favour of the ‘sacred’.[4] Religion simultaneously constructs a ‘picture’ (Bild) for contemplation (Anschauung) and an organization that cultivates our captivity to that ‘picture’ (Wittgenstein).  The sacred, on the contrary, intimates ‘love’ (Badiou), ‘binding commitment’ (Heidegger), an engaged and affirmative eruption of liberation amidst finite existence.  Religion constructs its eternal church as an everlasting perpetuation of the ‘picture’, of an idol – a captivating grammar of existence – while the sacred exults in this moment of lived existence,[5] in the haeccitas of Duns Scotus.  If religion is a ‘rational’ and ‘systematic’ orchestration of feeling and phenomena, the sacred is an attempt to seek access to a phenomenon beyond the array of objectification towards traces of the numen.  Indeed, for Otto, one need only begin amidst this singular event.

In light of this preliminary distinction between religion and the sacred, it will be the task of Marx and the Revolution of the Sacred to excavate and disclose in the writings and historical activism of Marx an affirmative sense of the sacred which is alterior to his inherently negative conception of religion.  With Marx’s empathy in his ‘sigh of the oppressed creature’, we can glimpse a sense of the sacred dissociated from a religious leviathan that merely serves to perpetuate suffering – we can begin to glimpse a sacred that exists as a radical commitment to liberation.  In this way, I will contend that Marx’s criticism of religion as an ideology of oppression and sedation in no way forecloses on a possible relationship between his work and Twentieth and Twenty-First Century attempts to articulate a sense of the sacred in the world.  There emerges in these latter attempts the possibility of an openness which discloses a topos for an encounter with a sense of a sacred not mediated by ‘ideology’ (or positive theology).

To read the book for free, please visit Marx and the Revolution of the Sacred

To read and download a smart phone, IPad, etc.-friendly PDF of the book, please visit Marx and the Revolution of the Sacred – Academia.edu

Yıldızların Enkazı: Nietzsche ve Şiirin Esrikliği – Turkish translation of ‘The Wreckage of Stars: Nietzsche and the Ecstasy of Poetry’

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Yıldızların Enkazı: Nietzsche ve Şiirin Esrikliği

 James Luchte

Translated by

 

 To read the essay in other languages, please visit The Wreckage of Stars: Nietzsche and the Ecstasy of Poetry

 

Milky Way

Dylan Thomas in Exile

This poem concerns, among other things, such as the ebb and flow of popular resistance, Dylan Thomas as a Welsh poet who lived a life devoted to the truth of the unique Welsh experience and its people. 

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Dylan Thomas

 

Dylan,

the second wave

The wave floods

The flood recedes

The tide returns

seethe in anger
darkest season
the poet is silenced

they will run him from his home

To read the rest of the poem, please visit Dylan Thomas in Exile

Fish in Shanghai

Fish in Garden Unit, Shanghai