Political Theology (Agamben)

I’ll say more about the new’ish Agamben when or if I get to it. In the meantime, William Robert’s excellent review suggests what part of The Kingdom and the Glory might be of interest to Jewish philosophy and religio-aesthetic theory.  What I’m still not understanding is the claim that the throne in Ezekiel is an “empty one.” The claim “obscures” the divine anthropos (the image of a semblance of the glory) seated upon the throne. What interests me more are claims regarding praise and the production of glory, and how vision of glory, which is theo-aesthetic, might, in the end, be politically “inoperative.”

This is the part of William’s review that makes me think the Agamben might be worth a peek:

To return to glory’s inoperativity: the empty throne, as an image of glory, is not an empty vision but a vision of emptiness as inoperativity.  The empty throne is an image of glory, a signature that cyphers God’s ultimate mystery, to which the only viable theological response becomes not predication but praise—praise as doxology and glorification.  Once again, Agamben invokes Ezekiel’s throne vision, this time for its eschatological elements that are entwined with “the originary paradigm of all Christian liturgical doxologies” (244).  (This entwining also reiterates Agamben’s naming of inoperativity as the “messianic operation par excellence” [249].)  Glory, as inoperativity, is “the eternal amen” (239), with amen serving in Christian liturgical contexts as “the acclamation par excellence” (230).  As such, amen is ultimately empty of signifying content, yet its emptiness—like that of the throne—is what grants its efficacy: “that of producing glory” (232).  Dialectically, then, glory, as inoperativity, is “the eternal amen,” and amen, itself semantically inoperative, produces glory.

In other words, glory doesn’t work.  Amen

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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