Reading Radical Theology: An Entangled Contemplation
Searching to reduce thoughts jumping out from the screen.
The journey has begun. When? No Self Can tell.
But to somewhere. From somewhere.
It has to be in silence.
A place for contemplation.
”The beginning” (Mark 1:1, NRSV)
“I offer my proposal” (2021:xii)
"By critically and creatively reconsidering ’our old one’ […] a re-envisioned Christian theology may help to save the planet”
Yes. Yes. Naturally so.
A theology about “playfulness and serious disrespect”.
Self diffracts through the gospel of Mark,
through the beginning;
through the candles on the table;
through the face of a child in covid isolation asking for sandwich.
Coming close. Giving Self a hug.
“Rearranging and Reconstructing theology for the sake of God” (Ibid.: xiv)
In the process ‘Self’ is touched.
Touched by fragments. Fragments repeated, reconfigured.
Transformed in the light of the everyday.
Self is then reminded. By the other. That the
“material touch of our relations, our theories, our theologies, our poetics, our arts |…] creatively transfigures worlds” (Erickson 2017:214),
“our touch is a matter of matter touching matter” (ibid)
“self-touching is an encounter with an infinite alterity of the self. Matter is an enfolding, an involution, it cannot help touching itself, and in this self-touching it comes in contact with the infinite alterity that it is. (Barad 2012a)
“The beginning of the good news[a] of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1, NRSV),
“the voice of one crying out in the wilderness”.
Where is this wilderness? In the mad scene Perhaps. In the sound of tears from narrow streets of Jerusalem, while walls, houses, constructions are breaking apart. Being cut up in pieces. As the way fragments emerge. In this way the Gospel of Mark is cut up in pieces by Self, being rearranged and reconfigured. Then being reconstructed like the city of Jerusalem. A place. A fragmented place. Perhaps the cutting together apart happened as Mark wrote his gospel. Whoever Mark may be.
Temptations to rearrange fragments poetically in wilderness.
In this, that is born. In the very moment of an encounter with the other. With God. Because who knows when God may call and when heavens may be torned
”apart and the Spirit descending like a dove”
and a voice calling
“You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:10-11, NRSV).
The voice keeps calling.
Bidding self to rearrange. To reconstruct.
And Self listens. Carefully. And allert.
“God might be the giant in the sand. Or the waves. Or the camera. Or the audience. God might be my shifting in the seat, the flush on my cheeks, the throat that clears at the back of the room. A voyeuristic gaze. Or God might be the theologian’s newfound brief desire for excavation. A slight twitch in my thigh and then he’s gone. The fleeting presence of a stranger in the dark. Release, contract, then head back home.” (Wigg-Stevenson 2021?)
A fragmenting touch by words delivered through social media. Calling for a return.
“Is it God returning or being returned […] Is ‘God’ returning or getting returned” (Keller 2017:17)
“Convertere Ad Dominum Deum Tuum” is the end contemplation.
Self returns to the intimate touch of wilderness.
“And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.” (Mark 1:12-13, NRSV).
Self growing in isolation. Who needs a congregation?
We all do. Since No Self Can Tell.
Self keeps dancing. A
“voice is silent, but the movement in me is bursting with an over-whelming force. Silence, sound, quiet, movement - all is present in the room. I am at the center of NOW, in the middle of BEING. It is a movement capturing the absolute conviction that everything has been expressed. Sound is now embodied in a most profound sensation of existence.” (Belgrano 2011:31).
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”(Mark 1:15, NRSV).
Repent and believe.
“Follow me” (Mark 1:17, NRSV).
“Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” (Mark 1:25-27, NRSV).
So we walk. Together. Dancing through our wounds together. Making relations. Rethinking
“at the level of the everyday. […] Her approach to the elements of construction - the elements that make up this world - is inner-worldy yet spiritual. […] Calling herself a constructor, she […] was desperate for new ways of thinking” (Carlsson Redell 2021:5).
What seems fragmented is not at all what it seems. Fragments are shot through one another. The method used
“is one of blasting, bursting open, and scattering the words and sentences to effect a complete reorganization of meaning” (Barad 2017:41).
In the process making becomes both poetic and scholastic. Layer on layer. Fragment onto fragment. Ornamenting meaning as a sounding score.
“Infinity of Construction can lead to respect and humility, even to love” (Carlsson Redell 2021:91).
Love as matter. Love as Self. Touching through words, ideas, things, in/finitudes. Cut Together-Apart. As the sharing of the body of Christ. Divided AND assembled in one. And AND become in Swedish OCH and OCH becomes OUK in Greek. And the meaning of OUK becomes NOTHING.
“Nothingness. The void. Absence of matter. The blank page. Utter silence. No thing, no thought, no awareness. Complete ontological insensibility. Shall we utter some words about nothingness? What is there to say? How to begin? […] Perhaps we should let emptiness speak for itself. (Barad 2012b :4)
A continuous excavation into the presence and absence of matter. Of God. A diffractive entangled and intra-acting reconfiguration of ethics becoming
“’what mattering does, how mattering performs itself’, endlessly opening itself up to ‘a variety of possible and impossible reconfigurations’ […] In this sense, everything is accountable in the worlds differential becoming, and the terrain of ethical inquiry shifts from ‘how can I produce an ethical relation?’ to the broader consideration of ‘how am I produced, ethically’? (Hinton 2013:182-183).
Contemplation leads the Self into closeness with itself through the Other flashing up as fragments. Coming unexpected. Holding and comforting.
”He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up.” (Mark 1:31, NRSV).
“If you choose […] Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, and said to him, “I do choose” (Mark 1:40.41, NRSV).
Lifted, Chosen. Re/arranged. Re/configured. Re/considered. Fragmented. Cut Together-Apart.
Barad, K. (2012a) On Touching—The Inhuman that Therefore I Am. Differences 23 (3): 206-223.
Barad, K. (2012b) What is the Measure of Nothingness? Infinity, Virtuality, Justice, 100 Notes – 100 Thoughts, dOCUMENTA (13), No099, Hatje Kantz, Kassel
Barad, K. (2017). What Flashes Up: Theological-Political-Scientific Fragments. I: Keller, C. & Rubenstein, M.-J. (eds.) Entangled Worlds. Religion, Science, and New Materialisms. Fordham University Press, New York, 2017. Pp. 21-88.
Belgrano, E.L. (2011) “Lasciatemi morire” o farò “La Finta Pazza”: Embodying Vocal Nothingness on Stage in Italian and French 17th century Operatic Laments and Mad Scenes. Diss., ArtMonitor, Univ. of Gothenburg, Research Catalogue. https://www.researchcatalogue.net/view/397858/397859 (accessed 2021-01-28)
Belgrano, E. L. & Price, M. D. (2022) ‘"No Self Can Tell: Voyages in Trans-Personal Trauma"‘, Research Catalogue [accessed 28/01/2022]
Carlsson Redell, P. (2021) Avantgarde Art and Radical Material Thinking. A Manifesto. Routledge. London/New York.
Erickson, J. J. (2017). Theophanic Materiality: Political Ecology, Inhuman Touch and the Art of Any Goldsworthy. In: Keller, C. & Rubenstein, M.-J. (eds.) Entangled Worlds. Religion, Science, and New Materialisms. Fordham University Press, New York, pp. 203-220.
Hinton, Peta (2013). The Quantum Dance and the World’s ‘Extraordinary Liveliness’: Refiguring Corporeal Ethics in Karen Barad’s Agential Realism. Somatechnics, 3.1:169-189.
Keller, C. (2017). Intercarnations. Exercises in Theological Possibility. Fordham University Press, New York.
Mark, Gospel of (c. 70 AD). Chapter 1, NRSV https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Mark%201&version=NRSV (2021-01-28)
Wigg-Stevenson, N. (2021). Transgressive Devotion: Theology as Performance Art. SCM Press.