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By Colby Dickinson

Notwithstanding the paintings of Italian theorist Giorgio Agamben has been expanding in attractiveness during the last a number of years within the English-speaking global, little paintings has been performed without delay at the theological legacy which really dominates the general strength of his severe analyses, an issue which has intrigued his readers because the booklet of his brief publication on Saint Paul’s ‘Letter to the Romans’. Agamben and Theology intends to light up this sort of connection by means of reading the theologically inflected phrases that experience come to dominate his paintings through the years, together with the messianic, the sacred, sovereignty, glory, production, unique sin, redemption and revelation.

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This is a space wherein “nothing more than an exchange, simply a human conversation” may now take place (PR 51). It is, as he will later call it, an act of “profanation” in a certain sense because it is the suspension of the religious-parodic impulse that in turn allows the space of the “truly human” (beyond any “anthropological machinery”, and hence even beyond what we typically conceive of as “humanity”) to be encountered. Though Agamben does not say as much in this context, the entrance of the divine into the human, as the core constitutive event which forever marked the Christian legacy, is fundamentally a resolution of the tensions opened up through the parody of the divine present within a monotheistic setting.

In order for it to exist at all, it must therefore not pass over into its negation. It is Herman Melville’s figure of “Bartleby the Scrivner” who, in his insistence upon the preference not to, maintains a certain sense of “im-potentiality” that Agamben seeks to elaborate more fully (cf. B, translated in P 243–271; see also CC 35–37). 6 Hence, rather than “I will not” being the declarative phrase of resistance uttered to his boss, Bartleby’s “I prefer not to” is an emphatic distancing of himself from the entire machinery of actuality and its formulation of a decisive will, which is to be seen here as little more than a slightly veiled attempt to obtain power.

PR 41). Extended beyond prose and into the realm of ritual, parody indeed becomes the basis for importing a different, nontragic, backdrop against which to view the human subject. Hence, its infiltration into theology and the basic practices of its tradition. Liturgy thus becomes a form of parody, if viewed in this way (PR 42). Though, as much as parody is able to enter into religious expressions, it also disrupts any genuine presentation of the mystery which is kept at a distance. 20 By accomplishing much more than Dante’s elaboration of the “comic” project, then, the act of invoking parody becomes more essential to preserving mystery in the end than any religious effort to envelop mystery with the practices and pronouncements of a long and varied tradition.

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