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A Materialism for the Masses

A Materialism for the Masses: Saint Paul and the Philosophy of Undying Life

Ward Blanton
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    A Materialism for the Masses
    Book Description:

    Nietzsche and Freud saw Christianity as metaphysical escapism, with Nietzsche calling the religion a "Platonism for the masses" and faulting Paul the apostle for negating more immanent, material modes of thought and political solidarity. Integrating this debate with the philosophies of difference espoused by Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jacques Lacan, and Pier Paolo Pasolini, Ward Blanton argues that genealogical interventions into the political economies of Western cultural memory do not go far enough in relation to the imagined founder of Christianity.

    Blanton challenges the idea of Paulinism as a pop Platonic worldview or form of social control. He unearths in Pauline legacies otherwise repressed resources for new materialist spiritualities and new forms of radical political solidarity, liberating "religion" from inherited interpretive assumptions so philosophical thought can manifest in risky, radical freedom.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53645-5
    Subjects: Religion, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xx)
  4. PLATONISM FOR THE MASSES: On the Sacred Cement Shoes of Paul the Apostle
    (pp. 1-38)

    A SPECTER IS HAUNTING EUROPE—THE VERY UNRULY SPIRIT OF A Paulinism we believe ourselves to have isolated safely in the past. This spirit oozes up through the very cracks in the floorboards of our triumphal institutions. All the powers of the West have entered into an alliance to exorcise the evident danger of this specter, this genie who seems capable of emerging from any of its bottles. International banks demand of democratically elected officials that they call up outsourced policing agencies to quell our rebellions against a diffuse machinery of life and labor, of domination and co-optation by the...

  5. 1 CONTINGENCY; OR, COVENANTAL COMEDY: In Praise of Strange Paulinist Federations
    (pp. 39-66)

    WE SHOULD REVIVE THE EARLY CHRISTIAN PRACTICE OF PRODUCINGtestimoniacollections, little assemblages that effect the solicitation, repetition, and dissemination of new communal formulae, so many virtual constitutions of questionably political bodies. With the little collection above I want to flag some ways that to discover Paul floating within an underground current of a new materialism is to read in him an exemplary case of that perplexingly obtrusive enjoyment which constitutes our being—unsaved and unsafe—in the world. This enjoyment (Agamben will press the topos toward the wordlove) is obtrusive in the sense that it is constitutive, preceding...

  6. 2 ON BEING CALLED DEAD: Splitting the Imperative of Being
    (pp. 67-96)

    IN THE LAST CHAPTER WE BEGAN TO DISCUSS THE SECRET SHARING of the Paulinism of Stanislas Breton and the aleatory materialism of Louis Althusser, tabling initially several ways in which such sharing indicates new ways to understand an apostle in the “underground current of materialism.” I want now to focus on the issue more directly by showing just what was the Paulinism of Stanislas Breton in relation to the implicit turn toward aleatory materialism in the late Althusser. My own work on both figures takes seriously something Breton once said about Christianity, something I think we should affirm in relationship...

    (pp. 97-128)

    PHILOSOPHY HAS ALWAYS BEEN EXEMPLARY IN ITS CAPACITIES TO conjure a feeling of being stuck between a necessity and an impossibility of articulating responsibility for the common, for a communal life this collective would itself call good. In recent years the very delicate—and sometimes hesitating or ironic—resurgence of communism as a topic for political theory remains within the orbit of this aspect of the genius, that juicy littledaimōn, constituting the ongoing vibrancy of philosophy. As is made clear by the awkward efforts to say the name of the common without repeating inherited and readily recognizable philosophico-political disasters,...

    (pp. 129-162)

    IN DELEUZE’S MOVING CONVERSATION WITH CLAIRE PARNET ABOUT the life and death of Foucault, I am struck by the way Deleuze’s typical fascination with Foucault under the name of the fold and the double emerges as a space within which to imagine the pressure of a crisis within Foucault’s thinking.¹ How does thought, or life, escape power relations once these are imagined, precisely, as ubiquitous? Could one cross a limit of knowledge and power in order to experiment, and to experiment with new communal forms? If so, has one crossed over a threshold of escape from power, or would such...

  9. 5 SEIZURES OF CHANCE: Paulinist Agencies in Neocapitalist Contexts
    (pp. 163-182)

    IN MANY WAYS AND NECESSARILY TO MULTIPLE ENDS, IT IS THE moment to seize upon an opportunity to (re)stage a work that the great Pasolini, by chance, could not himself fund. If so, our own putting into place of imaginary mises-en-scènes for a screenplay Pasolini left behind would immediately set in motion a complex comparative machinery, whirring away to effect an operational wonder about the now-time within which chance occasions and imaginary props afford a chance to bring a screenplay, not to mention an apostle, to life again. In fact, Pasolini wrote in his notes for a screenplay (written in...

  10. CONCLUSION: New Beginnings
    (pp. 183-194)

    READ SIMILARLY TO NIETZSCHE, FREUD FOR ME WAS CORRECT inasmuch as he understood Paulinism as a kind of counterpoint to the “religion” of the people of Moses. But Freud was still not sleuthing hard enough, not doing enough dreamwork on the force and forms of cultural memory, when he considered Paul himself as actually having instituted the operative break between Judaism and Christianity. For all his shrewd reflections on revolution, institutionalization, and its repressions, Freud still read Paul like Martin Luther, participating in an aged panoply of a triumphalistically anti-Jewish and implicitly pro-imperial tradition inasmuch as he finds in Paul...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 195-236)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 237-240)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 241-244)