The Fall Out of Redemption: Writing and Thinking Beyond Salvation in Baudelaire, Cioran, Fondane, Agamben, and Nancy

The Fall Out of Redemption: Writing and Thinking Beyond Salvation in Baudelaire, Cioran, Fondane, Agamben, and Nancy

Joseph Acquisto

Language: English

Pages: 233

ISBN: 2:00311114

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Joseph Acquisto examines literary writers and critical theorists who employ theological frameworks, but who divorce that framework from questions of belief and thereby remove the doctrine of salvation from their considerations. Acquisto claims that Baudelaire inaugurates a new kind of amodern modernity by canceling the notion of salvation in his writing while also refusing to embrace any of its secular equivalents, such as historical progress or redemption through art.

Through a series of “interhistorical” readings that put literary and critical writers from the last 150 years in dialogue, Acquisto shows how these authors struggle to articulate both the metaphysical and esthetic consequences of attempting to move beyond a logic of salvation. Putting these writers into dialogue with Baudelaire highlights the way both literary and critical approaches attempt to articulate a third option between theism and atheism that also steers clear of political utopianism and Nietzschean estheticism. In the concluding section, Acquisto expands metaphysical and esthetic concerns to account also for the ethics inherent in the refusal of the logic of salvation, an ethics which emerges from, rather than seeking to redeem or cancel, a certain kind of nihilism.

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himself/Is made to inspire in the poet a love/As eternal and silent as matter” (59)] (OC1: 21). This beauty does not inspire poetic creation but, rather, hinders it by inspiring mute love on the part of the poet, a silence that he would have to break in order to craft a poem which, one supposes, would never be adequate to portray the beauty that he adores in silence unless it were, as in “Je t’adore à l’égal … ,” to transform the beauty in such a way as to kill it. We are now in a position to

ultimately become divorced from their objects, so that what we are left with is a transformed saying, a pure iteration that was further explored in the “pure poetics” of Mallarmé and Valéry and, in the case of Baudelaire, a meaningless concept of salvation which cannot have value apart from its ability to take an object but, as Agamben demonstrates, which persists nonetheless. While we might not be able to get by without the category of salvation, the dialogue his essay can inspire when read in

entertain the possibility of redemption, as opposed to soteriology, the term for the study of redemption. The work of all of the writers I consider in this study could be said to be a prolonged attempt to draw out the full consequences of the move to asoteriological thinking, which becomes as urgent as it is difficult, given how deeply embedded in Western thought and writing the notion of redemption is. I will concentrate above all on a double set of consequences, metaphysical and esthetic, as

Baudelaire closely on metaphysical questions, it is unlikely that he could affirm a theology, even a negative one, that resembles the Christian mystics more than it does Baudelaire’s idiosyncratic God. And indeed this ultimate impossibility of salvation for Fondane is what SalazarFerrer goes on to indicate: Fondane never accepted the linearity of Christian history, marked by a time of a fall from the originary paradise [ … ]. In his Baudelaire, he wanted and demanded the fundamental return to

working out of a worldview, a back and forth between a poetic metaphysics and a metaphysical poetry that refuses systematic approaches and that can therefore be difficult to summarize or even articulate precisely. In this chapter, I would like to develop the ways in which the theological and the poetic are intertwined in Baudelaire, drawing not only on the foundation that Fondane helped us establish but also the work of Giorgio Agamben, particularly his notion of the “end of the poem.” Endings

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