Rejoicing: Or the Torments of Religious Speech
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Bruno Latour’s long term project is to compare the felicity and infelicity conditions of the different values dearest to the heart of those who have ‘never been modern’. According to him, this is the only way to develop an anthropology of the Moderns. After his work on science, on technology and, more recently, on law, this book explores the truth conditions of religious speech acts.
Even though there is no question that religion is one of the values that has been intensely cherished in the course of history, it’s also clear that it has become immensely difficult to tune in to its highly specific mode of enunciation. Every effort to speak in the right key sounds awkward, reactionary, pious or simply empty. Hence the necessity of devising a way of writing that brings to the fore this elusive form of speech to render it audible again. In this highly original book, the author offers a completely different tack on the endless ‘science and religion’ conflict by protecting them both from the confusion with the notion of information. Like The Making of Law, this book is one more attempt at developing this ‘inquiry on modes of existence’ that provides an alternative definition of society.
deeper, always materializes for them in the fragility of a risky speech act that forces them to keep on raising the stakes. Depending on how they speak to one other, they either find themselves as distant as strangers or closer than they’ve ever been. Who among us has lived such an oblivious or sorry life as not to have had the devastating dual experience of a crisis in love? That one word too many that transforms lovers into enemies who don’t see how they could have lived so long in such
does, to try and make distant, worn-out words sound current and close. All together we pray in the shadows of this rubbish tip that’s as high as a hill, ready to come streaming over us, a mountain of debts, of translation arrears that paralyses our tongues and forces each one of us to mope as we sit on our chairs, not budging for fear that the whole thing will come tumbling down, protecting with a clumsy hand the DIY interior of a private religion, bric-à-brac that no longer has the capacity to
ambition of redemption, the choice of the people to be saved. Let’s have another go at capturing the big by the small, the sacred by the profane, the unacceptable by the familiar. It’s as if the same tradition could appear in either of two states: solid or gaseous. A word received that is addressed to another time and to another place immediately loses its initial freshness, its efficacy; by construction, it appears to us now as no more than an artificial obstacle to understanding what it’s
tradition finds itself effectively revived, twisted askew to get it to bring forth the present once more. We’ve paid the cost of transportation by a radical transformation that hasn’t modified what we have moved. There’s nothing mysterious about the general form of this exegesis, it is even discouragingly mundane. What could be more tedious than the expression ‘I love you’? Untold millions of people have used the same formula. Soooo boring. What about ‘I’? That empty pronoun has served as a mask
which serves as material for formatting the next one. The thing is that, with these sentences, which are as mysterious as they are banal, we hope to get closer and not move further away. They don’t provide any access. They don’t teach anything about anything. They don’t drive. They don’t form holds we can get any kind of grip on. You don’t go anywhere with them you don’t travel anywhere by taking the vehicle, the intermediary, of religious utterances, words, texts, rituals. There is no subscriber