I am working on a couple of book ideas, and have been sketching out some things that I have been living with for some time. One of them is a book on (de)centering practices. I spend a lot of time in relgious environs and there is always someone teaching a class on centering something, or talking about balance, or switching off, all valid ideas, but somehow they don't resonate with the way I approach the world and they are often drawn from traditions that removed themselves from the wider world and retreated into anther environ and shaped practices out of that. I don't live that way, I do not aspire to a monastic life or community, I don't seek refuge from the world, I want to grab it by the balls. I do have mechanisms for navigating it all, like everyone I have to stop every once in a while and think through how I am making my way through life, and make adjustments, take time out etc., but sometimes 'finding simplicity or balance' is not possible. In fact I am fairly sure that a balanced life is a modern myth, so I have been thinking for a couple of years now around other ways of handling life--managing noise, negotiating complexity, navigating randomness and uncertainty, stuff like that.
Alongside that I have been thinking a lot about the 'god trajectory'; the death/post/after god conversation; the radical a/theism theology discourse; and particualrly of the post-mystical.
In my theology and culture class we just finshed a couple of weeks talking about human physicality, sexuality, identity and the theological intersections, all in an effort to join the dots in new configurations that better address the world we inhabit. We began that journey with some comments from Giorgio Agamben from his book Nudities, where he states that 'nudity in our culture has a theological signature', essentially arguing that the relationship to nakedness we hold in Western culture is rooted in a Judeo-christian informed perspective that finds its way back to Genesis, the book of beginnings, to the fall, t0 shame etc. But as I re-read the book it was the book's closing paragraphs that hit me on an entirely other level, related more to my present thinking around the above-mentioned topics.
"The ways in which we do not know things are just as important (and perhaps more important) as the ways in which we know them...it is possible, in fact, that the way in which we are able to be ignorant is precisley what defines the rank of what we are able to know and that the articulation of a zone of non-knowledge is the condition and at the same time the touchstone of all our knowledge...The act of living is, in this sense, the capacity to keep ourselves in harmonious relationship with that which escapes us."
There is a clue in here related to some of the ideas I am working with. Rather than binary oppostions silence/noise, simplicity/complexity, there is another way of thinking about things, much more complimentary and interrelated than oppositional. Agamben is not talking about not-knowing as a defective thing, as 'clumsiness' as he puts it, but a different kind of relationship between both what is known and what is unknown. To me this connects with Vattimo's concept of weak thinking and Caputo's weak theology. I'll come back to that in another post.