Tuesday, 25 March 2008

O Roma felice! O Roma nobile!

I have only three things to say about this conference: Oh. My. God.

To get you in the mood, here’s a stirring passage from Giorgio Agamben: “The Pauline decomposition of messianic presence is similar to the one in Kafka’s extraordinary theologoumenon, in which the Messiah does not come on the day of his arrival, but only on the day after; not on the last day but on the very last day…. I found a perfect parallel in an Islamic text that reads, ‘My coming and the hour are so close to one another that the hour of my coming risks arriving before me.’ The Messiah has already arrived, the messianic event has already happened, but its presence contains within itself another time, which stretches its parousia, not in order to defer it, but, on the contrary, to make it graspable. For this reason, each instant may be, to use [Walter] Benjamin’s words, the ‘small door through which the Messiah enters’.” (Agamben, The Time That Remains, p. 71)

And – I can’t help myself – here’s a passage from Jacob Taubes: “I contend that this concept of nihilism, as developed here by Benjamin, is the guiding thread also of the hos me in Corinthians and Romans. The world decays, the morphe of this world has passed. Here, the relationship to the world is, as the young Benjamin understands it, world politics as nihilism. And that is something that Nietzsche understood, that behind all this there is a profound nihilism at work, that it is at work as world politics, toward the destruction of the Roman Empire. This is why you can’t make Lutheran deals with Romans 13, unless you give up the entire frame.” (Taubes, The Political Theology of Paul, p. 72.)

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