Notes on Pablo

Go directly to the marketplace, to the communication centers, and preach the gospel. That’s the Pauline way. Christian mission was media innovation, media inhabitation, media expansion. Its message and its medium are—as one Catholic media theorist observed—rendered indistinct by a communication center that makes a world in which it’s already too late to distinguish which is the medium and which is the message. The communication centers that screen Katrina likewise screen the Kardashians. And an investment in having an opinion about the distinction of good and bad screens is ultimately an investment in opinion. Continue reading “Notes on Pablo”

Disaffection vs. Analogy

On the occasion of the recent dust-up over Milbank’s new book, I thought I’d note some theoretically explicit remarks from Deleuze and the Naming of God:

Analogy may articulate an order that is peaceable to some, but there will no doubt be those who experience this order in terms of suffering. [fn1] There will be minorities – all individuals are cracked, and so all, on some basic level, will be disaffected with the peace that order offers.  Continue reading “Disaffection vs. Analogy”

Recent Text & Excerpts

I would like to call attention to, and to give some context for, a recent book that I did in collaboration with the artist Davis Rhodes. The book consists of two (physically discrete) parts, each of which includes my text in relay with images of Rhodes’ work. This is not a catalog essay — there is no attempt to provide theoretical meaning for the artworks, nor is there any attempt to pose these artworks as exemplifications of my theoretical efforts. I understand the writing that I do for this book to be no different than my customary mode of writing, with the essential qualification that I have here written under a condition constructed by the works of Rhodes (and my longstanding conversation with him).

The argument I make in this book is a central condensation of my ongoing project on conversion (which is also partially indexed by “Nonrelation and Metarelation” and an upcoming essay in Rhizomes 28). More specifically, the interest of my text in this book is to articulate an immanence of the porosity of non-being (essential disequilibrium) and the construction of form. The text draws on various sources: Deleuze’s difference in-itself; Laruelle’s One, which I read as N(o-)one; Sharpe’s wake; Wilderson’s objective vertigo; Bersani’s anegoic shattering. Selected passages from the text are found below.  Continue reading “Recent Text & Excerpts”

Paperback for Deleuze and the Naming of God

Apologies for the self-promotion, but I thought that readers may be interested in knowing that a paperback version of my Deleuze and the Naming of God: Post-Secularism and the Future of Immanence will soon be coming out. In other words, this book has become relatively affordable. It is now available for pre-order.

Reviews of the book that I am aware of are available online by Alex Dubilet at Parrhesia and by Joshua Ramey at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. Jon Bialecki has reviewed the book, together with another on an overlapping topic (LeRon Shults’ Iconoclastic Theology), at Religion and Society (behind paywall, though feel free to contact me at danielcbarber(at)

Bad Versions, p.s., Abstraction

I appreciated the reading and comments of my previous post, and wanted to respond a bit more formally — though also perhaps too tangentially. The operation that my criticism tried to indicate is one that often seems to be associated with the need for and power of abstraction. For my part, I don’t have any a priori complaint about abstraction. In many ways, I think it’s central and essential. The question, though, is that of how abstraction is articulated, or even spatialized.

In the operation I was criticizing, abstraction tends to serve as something like a common space, one that is, at least in the last instance, able to remain exterior to the differences that intractably appear, or that appear to be intractable. The demand for emancipation has a normativity or universality that — regardless of how this demand has been misused or perverted or functioned for domination, etc. — is, in the last instance or in its essence, capable of (and necessary for) resisting or overcoming these differentiated modes of domination. This, in any case, is how the operation seems to work. And abstraction is then the means by which this essential value of normativity or universality is indicated or expressed. In other words, regardless of the variegated differentiations that embed and/or are embedded by domination, there remains the capacity of abstraction, understood here as the capacity for the differentiated to encounter one another in a manner that is ultimately or in principle free of the determinative differentiations. Continue reading “Bad Versions, p.s., Abstraction”

Bad Versions

Observing the contemporary theoretical terrain, there’s a certain operation that I find rather striking — both in its valorization and in its predominance. We might call this an operation of resuscitation, revival, or rejuvenation (though, for my own reasons, I would call it — or at least locate it within a field of — conversion). This operation is one in which a term, or point of reference, that appears to have become outmoded is taken up and (re)valorized. I imagine that there are a number of instances of such terms, but the ones that jump out to me most immediately include “universalism,” “normativity,” and “Hegel.” While there may be various differences between the specific versions of such revalorizations, I am interested in an overarching commonality among them. This commonality, once again, is operational: the revalorized term is advanced in connection with a readiness to turn aside critiques of the term as belonging only to the “bad version” of the term, but not to the revalorized term. In other words, the operation goes something like this: “of course I understand that you have a deeply critical relation to ‘universalism / normativity / Hegel,’ and you are absolutely right to maintain such a relation — provided that you come to realize that this critical relation belongs to the bad version of ‘universalism / normativity / Hegel,’ and thus not to my revalorized version of this term.” (Shorter versions of this include “trust that your problems have been recognized and — at least in principle — overcome” and “Dad is not so bad.”) Continue reading “Bad Versions”