Saturday, 18 October 2008

On political theology, Jacob Taubes, and Picasso

Thanks to Danny for pointing us to the latest issue of the New German Critique, a special issue on political theology. There’s some great stuff here – loads of Schmitt, Benjamin, Agamben, and Taubes.

I especially liked Nitzan Lebovic’s excellent article, “The Jerusalem School: The Theopolitical Hour,” which explores “the strange reappearance of Carl Schmitt in the context of German Jewish thought after 1940.” Lebovic focuses on the relationships between Buber, Bergman, Taubes, and the right-wing former terrorist Geulah Cohen: “Political theology was where antinormative critics from the radical Left and the radical Right met, cooperated, and learned from each other before going their separate ways.” The relations between the work of Schmitt and these Jewish thinkers constitutes the necessary background for understanding Agamben’s project.

Speaking of Jacob Taubes, I’m very intrigued by this strange character (and his even stranger thought). Right now I’m reading the autobiographical novel, Divorcing (1969), by his wife Susan Taubes – the book describes her relationship with Taubes, and his many eccentricities. (She committed suicide a week after the novel was published.) At the Princeton University Art Museum, I’ve also been spending some time looking at this Picasso painting, which was presented to Jacob Taubes in 1957:

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