Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Foundation of The Vampire State by Gil Anidjar

 I am talking about revolution. It is a revolution that is usually dated 1058 (or 1075 and even 1122, but allow me to leave the matter of precise dating to the historians), and it sets up the entirety of the theological-political problem as it has come to persist rather than be resolved. The revolution took p-lace as the empire of blood was coming about. One could even go so far as saying that it took place as the empire of blood – period. Harold Berman, at any rate, credits this momentous event with “the formation of the Western legal tradition,” explaining that “all modern Western legal systems originated right in the middle of the Middle Ages.” More important, “the Papal Revolution gave birth to the modern Western State”. It made Christianity ‘into a political and legal program”. This is no outlandish claim. Gerd Tellenbach, a sober German scholar, described the effects of the Investiture Contest ( for that is what our revolution, the papal revolution, is also called) as “a great revolution in world-history,” which established a new dominion, indeed an empire, for the church in this earthly world. For Tellenbach, it is “the greatest – from this spiritual point of view perhaps the only – turning point in the history of Catholic Christendom.” With it, “the world was drawn into the Church, and the leading spirits of the new age made it their aim to establish the ‘right order’ in this united Christian world.”  This was also “ the first great age of propaganda in world-history, ”and it embarked the church, Western Christendom, on the path of the conversion of the world, a world-historical task indeed. What emerges, I hurry to assuage potential concerns, was an accidental empire, of course. None expected or even wished for it as such. It too came about in a fit absent of mind, in other words.

 As Tellenbach describes it, it is in fact “astonishing with what suddenness the basic ideas of the Investiture Conflict appear. Along with the events, which hastened its development, the ideas that gave rise to them “were insignificant from the standpoint of the contemporary Church and fortuitous from that of the modern historian.” And yet, there is no doubt that it was a world-historical revolution, which drastically diminished the theocratic power of the king and emperor, distinguished more powerfully between the Augustinian cities while enabling an ever more active and wide-ranging involvement of one in the other, the ever more active and wide-ranging involvement of the church in this world.

Thus a new and victorious strength was lent to the old belief in the saving grace of the sacraments and to the hierarchical conceptions based on their administration. Out of those arose the conviction that the Christian peoples of the West formed the true City of God, and as a result the leaders of the Church were able to abandon their ancient aversion from the wickedness of worldly men and to feel themselves called upon to re-order earthly life in accordance with divine precept.

Along with the “ age-old Catholic ideas” of righteousness, hierarchy, and the proper standing of everyone before God, many more ideas and movements were here at work. And truly, “it would be incorrect to treat these and related ideas as the personal discoveries of St. Augustine or any other particular individual among the early Fathers, or attempt to trace out exactly the stages by which (Pope) Gregory [VII] is supposed to have inherited them.” What is clear is that the developments in question “would have been impossible if a preexisting community, the populous christianus, had not been formed in Europe between the fifth and eleventh centuries.” By the time it became fully formed, though, blood - -in drops, rivers or floods –would come to play a significant role. And it is blood, in a nutshell, that brings me to Tomaz Mastnak’s groundbreaking, if largely ignored, argument, and to a hitherto less noticed dimension of the papal revolution.

“Traditionally,” Mastnak explains, “the church had been averse to the shedding of blood. Ecclesia abhorret a sanguine was a principle ever present in patristic writings and conciliar legislation.” What this meant was that killing –  shedding blood, in the inherited, biblical parlance – no matter whose and no matter what the circumstance, was considered a sin. “Even killing a pagan was homicide,” which means that this clearly was an awfully serious rule. Indeed, “from the fourth century to the eleventh century, the Church as a rule imposed disciplinary measures on those who killed in war, or at least recommended that they do penance.” One pope had referred to bishops who did engage in war as “false priests” because “their hands were ‘stained with human blood’”; another referred to “proponents of war” as “sons of the devil;”. What changed then? The exception became the rule, and a different rule it was. Talk about revolution.

What happened is that the idea of warfare became licit; that violence and the shedding of blood became permissible rather than something impossible to avoid or outright condemned. And Pope Gregory VII, all too easy to blame at this point, the same pope “after whom Church reform has been called, is [also] held responsible for the profound changes in the Christian attitude towards bearing arms that this idea [of licit warfare] implied.” His followers, Alexander II and Urban II, did lend a helping hand. They were accessories to the perfect murder, as it were, and hardly a bloodless one. There were others, of course, who joined the efforts of the emerging populous christianus, the Christian people. The most dramatic change at any rate occurred in 1054 (the year of the filioque controversy, which hardened the schism between the Eastern and Western churches) in the city of Narbonne. Prior to this “peace council,” there had been a rule, which, true to the church’s abhorrence of blood, had “prohibited the shedding of blood.” Yet, and to make a long story short, “the councilors of Narbonne substituted, as it were, the word Christian for the word human.” They also declared, for reiterative measure, that “no Christian should kill another Christian, for whosoever kills a Christian undoubtedly sheds the blood of Christ [quia qui Christianum occidit, sine dubio Christ sanguinem fundit]”. This was a giant step indeed, if not necessarily for mankind, at least for God. For whereas it had earlier been recognized, as Alexander II wrote, that “God is not pleased by the spilling of blood, nor does he rejoice in the perdition of the evil one,” and whereas “all laws, ecclesiastical as well as secular, forbid the shedding of human blood,” it was now becoming possible to enact, practice and enforce, for the love of God, a newfound distinction between bloods.

This great step was in need of only one additional and very light push. Urban II is the one who obliged. It was under his watch that it became “not only permissible but eminently salutary to use arms” – against whom? Against the infidel enemy, of course. War “against the enemies of God” quickly became “meritorious,” it was “divinely ordered.” From there on, things took a rapid and increasingly bloody turn. Heads would soon begin to fall all the way to Jerusalem, where, as one medieval chronicle describes it, “men rode in blood up to their knees and the bridle reins.” This is hardly a lone event in history, of course, which maybe why the same writer goes on to add its singular dimension in the longue duree, namely, “that it was a just and splendid judgment of God, that this place should be filled with the blood of unbelievers, since it had suffered so long from their blasphemies.” Thus it was that the Peace of God (“no Christian should kill another Christian, for whoever kills a Christian sheds the blood of Christ”) became the occasion for a new and novel notion of interventionism, a Christian interventionism, for the newfound and radical involvement of the church in a world of men newly divided. “Intus Pax, foris terrors”. Call it peace as the War on Terror. More important, at least for our purposes, Christianitas, which hade surely begun to take shape “among the various preconditions of the crusading movement,” was now reaching an accomplished stage. It was establishing itself as “populous Christianus, the Christian people, united under the supreme authority of the pope…bound together as Christendom [in] a common worldly pursuit and a common army . . . fighting for the Christian res publicas, the common weal.”

“Like his peacemaking predecessors,” Urban II was filled with good intentions. (Incidentally,, one reviewer criticized Mastnak, unfairly I think, for refusing to “accept that Westerners associated with the crusades” – allow me to repeat this beautiful turnoff phrase: “Westerners associated with the crusaders were ever well intentioned.”)This pope too “condemned fratricidal wars in the West.” What was intolerable to him, indeed, unconscionable, was the spilling of Christian blood. Thus was the world divided. “Effunditur sanguis Christianus, Christi sanguine redemptus . . . Christian blood, redeemed by the blood of Christ, as been shed,” he used to lament. And what he was thereby articulating was, Mastnak says, a new kind of “blood-brotherhood – the founding of Christian unity in blood.” This was, let me repeat this too, all well intended, all in the name of blood, all in the name of love, in other words, if not love of blood (actually, it now depends which blood, doesn’t it?). Which is why John of Salisbury wrote that he would refrain from calling those “whose normal occupation it is to shed human blood,” those who “wage legitimate war ‘men of blood,’ since even [King] David was called a man of blood not because he engaged in wars which were legitimate but on account of Uriah, whose blood he criminally shed”. You could shed blood in the name of love, therefore, without becoming a man of blood. Or, shedding that blood that is not one (not true blood, that is, not one like Christian blood), you would thereby join in the brotherhood. You could become, you had become a different man of blood, as “the substance of that brotherhood was blood, consanguinity in faith. And once faith was filled with blood, it was just a short step to the letting of blood of the unfaithful. Or rather, if faith was in the blood, it was just a short step to the letting of blood of the unfaithful. Or rather, if faith was in blood, with the shedding of unfaithful blood, unbelief was drained.”

The church, which had long “considered bloodshed as a source of pollution, now encouraged the shedding of blood – non-Christian blood – as a means to purification. When the reformed Church established its domination over Christendom, Christendom launched a military offensive to establish its domination over the world.” Bernard of Clairvaux was yet another, among many others, who decided to join the Christian war effort and brought to it more novelty in the form of his propitious doctrine of malicidium, the killing of evil.” “The soldier of Christ, Bernard was to repeat, is safe when he kills, even safer when he is killed. If he is killed, it is for his own good; if he kills, he does it for Christ.” Others, from Pierre Dubois to Catherine of Sienna, would later support our troops and lend another helping hand. But we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. This was only the beginning, and the Eucharist, along with the doctrine of transubstantiation, had yet to come. It would take these and a few more additional steps for Christian blood to become fully distinct and distinguished, for it to become pure and “wonderful blood,” as Caroline Walker Bynum described it ( though I should mention that Bynum writes about a later period and never refers to Mastnak’s work). By then, one would of course come to wonder, with Catherine of Sienna, “how anyone except Christ could save souls by shedding blood, especially the blood of others.” In this too, I suppose, there “remained a mystery,” one that had been “embedded in the context of the crusade, itself seen as a mystery.” One might further wonder how the shedding of blood could ever become the saving of souls- - the blood and souls  of others too.

But of one thing, one could nonetheless be certain. It was that when it came to Christian blood, every drop would count. Christian blood, at any rate, would become completely distinct, completely good and, more importantly, completely pure – if also vulnerable to all kinds of attacks and contaminations (“If thou dost shed/ One drop of Christian blood . . .” warns fair Portia, echoing Bassanio’s earlier promise to Antonio: “The Jews shall have my flesh, blood, bones, and all”/ Ere thou shalt lose for me one drop of blood”). As for the blood of others, what can I say. It was indeed on its way to start flowing in rivers and in floods. Alternatively, it was to be weighed and measured, sometimes just in drops: drop by drop. And note, by way of a later example, that “in the early seventeenth century, before slavery was rooted in the British mainland colonies, a person’s treatment depended on whether or not he was a Christian.” By blood then. Nor was this the first or last time. What would no longer be in doubt by then was that there was a difference between bloods, that there was a blood that was –shall we say, essentially? – a different and lesser blood. It had undergone a first and gigantic transformation towards an asymmetric universality, a generalized hematology, an indubitable foundation of Western, which is to say, Christian politics, and the establishment of the vampire state.

Photo: Concordat of Worms

Blood; A Critique of Christianity by Gil Anidjar, Columbia University Press, 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014

Farewell to Artistic and Political Impotence

Glossary of Technical Terms

Ranciere uses this Greek term meaning ‘ a throng of people’ or ‘multitude’ to refer to a community obsessed with its own unification, at the expense of excluding the demos.


Ranciere uses this Greek term – meaning ‘the commons’, ‘plebians’, or ‘citizens’ – interchangeably with ‘the people’ to refer to those who have no share in the communal distribution of the sensible. The demos is thus simultaneously the name of the community and the title signifying the division of the community due to a wrong. It is the unique power of assembling and dividing that exceeds all of the arrangements made by legislators; it is the force of communal division that contravenes the ochlos obsession with unification.


A  process by which a political subject extracts itself from the dominant categories of identification and classification


Prior to being a platform for rational debate, consensus is a specific regime of the sensible, a particular way of positing rights as a community’s arche [power, command, realm, empire]. More specifically, consensus is the presupposition according to which every part of the population, along with all its specific problems, can be incorporated into a political order and taken into account. By abolishing dissensus and placing a ban on political subjectivization, consensus reduces politics to the police.


Dissensus is not a quarrel over personal interests or opinions. It is a political process that resists juridical litigation and creates a fissure in the sensible order by confronting the established framework of perception, thought, and action with the ‘inadmissible”, i.e. a political subject.


Neither a form of government nor a style of social life, democracy is properly speaking an act of political subjectivization that disturbs the police order by polemically calling into question the aesthetic coordinates of perception, thought and action. Democracy is thus falsely identified when it is associated with the consensual self-regulation of the multitude or with the reign of a sovereign collectivity based on subordinating the particular to the universal. It is,. In fact, less a state of being than an act of contention that implements various forms of dissensus. It can be said to exist only when those who have no title to power, the demos, intervene as the dividing force that disrupts the ochlos. If a community can be referred to as democratic, it is only insofar as it is a ‘community of sharing in which membership in a common world –not to be confused with a communitarian social formation – is expressed in adversarial terms and coalition only occurs in conflict.

Gabriel Rockhill:  You have convincingly argued that theory and practice are closely intertwined in the recent history of arts. Your own theoretical practice is one that attempts to intervene in the consensual systems in order to displace them, whether or not it be the discourse on artistic modernity, the discourse on the avant-garde or other such examples. Could you discuss the nature of your theoretical practice as a polemical intervention? Are there aesthetic practices that try to do something along the lines of what you do at a theoretical level, i.e. intervene in order to displace the consensual framework of the sensible?

Jacques Ranciere:  What I try to do is intervene in the space connecting what is called aesthetics and what is called politics in order to question forms of description that have supposedly become self-evident. For instance, this is why both in what is supposed to be  a political  book like Hatred of Democracy  and what is supposed to be an aesthetic book, The Emancipated Spectator, I targeted more or less the same discourse, which is very powerful on both sides: the discourse on the spectacle and the idea that we are all enclosed in the field of the commodity, the spectator, advertising images and so on. This is because, on the one hand, this discourse generates a kind of anti-democratic discourse and the incapacity of the masses for any political intervention and, on the other hand, it nurtures a discourse on the uselessness of any kind of artistic practice because it says everything depends on the market. For example, there were all these reactions when I did an interview with Art Forum: ‘ But there is the market, and it’s true that the market.  .  .’ But it’s necessary to get out of this discourse, which is the discourse of impotence, which nurtures, at the same time, forms of art that are supposed to be critical, projects and installations that are supposed to make us discover the power of the commodity and the spectacle. This is something that nobody ignores anymore. This discourse generates a kind of stereotypical art with all these installations presenting displays of commodities, all these displays of images of sex or gender identity, etc. So what I try to do is really target certain topics that both create some kind of discourse of political impotence and, on the other hand, either generate an idea that art cannot do anything or what you have to do is reproduce the stereotypical criticism of the commodity and consumption.

Alexi Kukuljevic:  These stereotypical responses within the art world could perhaps be identified as avant-gardist or neo-avant-guardist attempts to critically respond to something like the spectacle of culture. You seem to be suggesting that there is a type of critical art that is more productive as an intervention or as a critique of contemporary society, a critical art that avoids the more stereotypical types of art that remain ensnared or entrapped in the logic of consumerist spectacle. Given your critique of modernism in the attempt to reopen the question of the aesthetic outside of the avant-gardist paradigm, how do you at the same time identify certain normative critical structures within the arts? Is there ultimately a normative aspect to your discourse?

Jacques Ranciere: I think that the critical spectacle has nothing to do with the avant-garde tradition because the avant-garde tradition is a tradition of art creating forms of life, and not art as a criticism of social stereotypes. I think that political art is itself something of a kind of leftover from the real political avant-garde tradition. This being said , I don’t have a fixed idea of some normative form of critique. What I mean is that I don’t think that there are normative forms so that you could just refer to them and establish a way of doing real political art. I just observe forms of displacement, breaking in some respects with the consensual way in which things are presented, told and made in the mainstream system. There are many examples . . .I have discussed, for instance, the way in which Alfredo Jaar dealt with the massacre in Rwanda  and how he escaped the discourse of the unrepresentable. He doesn’t show images of the slaughter, but he created an installation in which what he makes visible is the look of people or imply their identity. For instance there is an installation with black boxes where images were hidden in the boxes, but there were descriptions of the contents of the images on the boxes. There was thus an identification of the person, which means that he emphasized the fact that all those people have names and a place in history, whereas usually the victim is the one who has no names and no individuality (only an image as the victim of the slaughter). He breaks, in this case, with the partition between the part of the world that is constituted by individuals and the part of the world that is constituted by anonymous masses. However, I am not presenting a normative idea of what art has to do. I really don’t think that there is a good practice of art. The relation between the consensual image and subversive images is constantly shifting so that you have to, each moment, displace the displacement itself.

As a matter of fact, political art cannot work in the simple form of a meaningful spectacle that would lead to an ‘’awareness’ of the state of the world. Suitable political art would ensure, at one in the same time, the production of a double effect: the readability of a political of a political signification and a sensible or perceptual shock caused, conversely, by the uncanny, by that which resists signification. In fact, this ideal effect is always the object of negotiation between opposites, between the readability of the message that threatens to destroy the sensible form of art and the radical uncanniness that threatens to destroy all political  meaning.

What is important is not that a work can have this or that effect. The effect, the aesthetic effect, is not the effect of  a work in the sense that a work should produce this energy for action or this particular form of deliberation about a situation. It’s about creating forms of perception, forms on interpretation- not all of which the artist can anticipate. The role of the critic – which is a controversial name for me – is to draw the outlines of the kind of world of which the work is a product. For me, the role of the critic is to say, ‘this is the world that this work proposes.’ It is to try to explain the forms – as well as possible shifts in the forms – of perception, description and interpretation of a world that are inherent in the work.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Preface to Blood by Gil Anidjar

This book offers no explanation. And certainly no historical explanation. After all, Pablo Neruda already explained a few things (algunas cosas*), enough things, and blood is still running in the streets. A different exercise in resignation, the pages that follow laboriously linger in uncertain viscosity, contending instead with the fact that explanations are, if not a thing of the past, then a peculiar and particularly constricted struggle with finitude. “ We do not seek to explain why things persist,” writes William Connolly, “least of all ourselves, we scholars.”[1] Indeed, to acknowledge the finitude of the scholarly enterprise in confronting perdurance as well as transience could well mean welcoming its ends, one of which would be the irremediable failure ( not just belatedness or irrelevance) of explanation. There is no history lesson, one might translate, no lesson learned, not from the victors. [2] And there is no meta-image, which means that it is no longer clear, if it ever was, which is the medium and which the message (which the Christian, which the Jew), or whether an explanation would be forthcoming or even possible, let alone believable. The time of explanation may not be completely over – what ever is? – but explanations, particularly scholarly explanations, have no doubt reached a limit (they have to end somewhere, as Wittgenstein had it). Having proliferated further than every Ockhamian edge, they are past repair and beyond hope.

Call it digital nihilism or obstinate retardation, “the last gasp of a dying discipline”[3]; call it speculative realism or negative pedagogy (”the teaching of language is not explaining,” Wittgenstein went on); or call it, as Sheldon Pollack did, ‘”the death of Sanskrit.” [4] But the recourse to name calling is here analogous to alleging that resoluteness in being toward death – with “the evening redness in the West”  (Cormac McCarthy) (or perhaps it is Twilight), is it not time? -  can only be glossed as testifying to a suicidal inclination or to an apocalyptic imagination, as if these were what? This, in any case, is not to say that thought, learning, or reflection are at their end (although that is a distinct possibility), but that we are past sensing the futility of writing a scholarly book, doing it by the book (as if the book could do it just do it) as if this was not the end of the book in the age of world tweet-ture. Especially now, “when the history of the world has so terribly and so untidily expanded its endless successiveness.”[5] The sheer weight of accumulation, fifty shades of clay and mountains of waste (not to mention, horribile dictu, footnotes), among other expansions and past all counts, nonetheless counts for something, that is, for nothing, if only because what it accounts for  testifies to the victory of the quantitative – by attrition. Was it ever otherwise? This may of may not be the reason to stop writing books (though I suspect it is). Cunningly endorsing Marx’s take on the “gnawing criticism of the mice,” Lacan suggests somewhere that praise might be in order when producing a worse-seller.

Have I not called this a book? Is it not one after all? To the extent that my opinion matters (having been exposed, just like anybody by now, to an inordinate number of opinions, I am less and less persuaded that I should have or add any, much less that I am capable or in fact entitled to an opinion of my own), I will merely assert that I did not wish for this to be a book. Instead, one could imagine the whole thing as restless and otherwise bound, neither new science nor archeology, but rather partaking of a different, older tradition of disputation – in its initial and final stages a reading, a measuring of the adversary, among whom one lives and whom one invariably emulates, however grudgingly. Think of it as an unfinished project of some premodernity. Early on, at any rate, the growing number of meandering pages now lying ahead impressed themselves upon me, though I would have preferred otherwise. Like so much else, the uptake is hardly mine – my fear is that I am but “full of goodwill, a devoted local government worker who has not earned the right to responsibility” – which why worn caveats blissfully apply, regarding propriety, property, and indeed responsibility, the legal and financial kind in particular (going public, with block if not stock quotes).[6] That being said, I beg you, please, delicate and obsolete monster, mon lecteur, ma soeur, copyleft and rearrange at will. Dispute and destroy.

One late night, this story goes, a man is pacing under a streetlight. Another comes along. “Have you lost something?” “Yes,” answers the first, “my keys.” They search together for awhile. “Are you sure you lost them here?” “Oh, no, no. I dropped them over there, but here is where the light is." In the spirit of Witz [7], then, past the enlightenment and through a scanner darkly, blood illuminates, if nothing else, the chapter ahead. Blood, described by Wallace Stevens as ‘the more than human commonplace of blood/ The breath that gushes upward and is gone,” marks a more specific trail, delineates a contained if expanding domain, and signals limits. A long way from here, out of sources that – neither Greek nor Jew, not quite, thankfully – bring the trail of repetitive iterations to a provisional end, an answer beckons (ah, but for the question!). All of which signals but another series of negations: blood is not found here as an object, nor is it a subject. It is neither a thing nor an idea. And blood is not a concept. It is not an operator, neither actor nor agent. Blood mobilizes and condenses, it singles out and constitutes, a shifting perspective (ebbing and flowing, later circulating) like one of those images and forms – elements, again, or complexes of culture –that filled the material imagination, of which Gaston Bachelard wrote in Water and Dreams. Blood could promisingly have served the function of a “signature,” which, Giorgio Agamben insists, is not a concept but “something that in a sign or concept marks and exceeds such a sign or concept referring it back to a determinate interpretation or field, without for this reason leaving the semiotic to constitute a new meaning or a new concept.”[8]  Blood is better intuited, I said, as an element. Part or whole, in any case, blood does not, cannot refer back to any privileged field, not even to theology, coming as it does to seize, occupy, and linger in and across regions, dissolving between and beyond signs; this spread and proliferation through multiple field and meanings that, clotted or liquidated, speak to its place and instantiations as the element of Christianity. Blood, I repeat, is not an explanation, though it may be so misunderstood -  what ever has not? Blood has no identity to speak of, and its integrity or agency, its “internal consistency” is not what I am after. There will be bloods, in other words, but more precisely, multiple iterations of blood – medical and anthropological, juridical and theological, political and economic, rhetorical and philosophical, in disorder of appearance and disappearance .  .  .


* I’m Explaining a Few Things

    You are going to ask: and where are the lilacs?
    and the poppy-petalled metaphysics?
    and the rain repeatedly spattering
    its words and drilling them full
    of apertures and birds?

    I’ll tell you all the news.

    I lived in a suburb,
    a suburb of Madrid, with bells,
    and clocks, and trees.

    From there you could look out
    over Castille’s dry face:
    a leather ocean.
    My house was called
    the house of flowers, because in every cranny
    geraniums burst: it was
    a good-looking house
    with its dogs and children.
    Remember, Raul?
    Eh, Rafel?
    Federico, do you remember
    from under the ground
    my balconies on which
    the light of June drowned flowers in your mouth?
    Brother, my brother!
    loud with big voices, the salt of merchandises,
    pile-ups of palpitating bread,
    the stalls of my suburb of Arguelles with its statue
    like a drained inkwell in a swirl of hake:
    oil flowed into spoons,
    a deep baying
    of feet and hands swelled in the streets,
    metres, litres, the sharp
    measure of life,
    stacked-up fish,
    the texture of roofs with a cold sun in which
    the weather vane falters,
    the fine, frenzied ivory of potatoes,
    wave on wave of tomatoes rolling down the sea.

    And one morning all that was burning,
    one morning the bonfires
    leapt out of the earth
    devouring human beings –
    and from then on fire,
    gunpowder from then on,
    and from then on blood.
    Bandits with planes and Moors,
    bandits with finger-rings and duchesses,
    bandits with black friars spattering blessings
    came through the sky to kill children
    and the blood of children ran through the streets
    without fuss, like children’s blood.

    Jackals that the jackals would despise,
    stones that the dry thistle would bite on and spit out,
    vipers that the vipers would abominate!

    Face to face with you I have seen the blood
    of Spain tower like a tide
    to drown you in one wave
    of pride and knives!

    see my dead house,
    look at broken Spain:
    from every house burning metal flows
    instead of flowers,
    from every socket of Spain
    Spain emerges
    and from every dead child a rifle with eyes,
    and from every crime bullets are born
    which will one day find
    the bull’s eye of your hearts.

    And you’ll ask: why doesn’t his poetry
    speak of dreams and leaves
    and the great volcanoes of his native land?

    Come and see the blood in the streets,
    come and see
    the blood in the streets,
    come and see the blood
    in the streets!

[English translation by Nathaniel Tarn (American poet, essayist, translator, and editor) in Selected Poems: A Bilingual Edition, by Pablo Neruda. London, Cape, 1970.]

[1] William Connolly, Capitalism and Christianity, American Style; Duke Univ. Press, 2008]

[2] Carlo Ginzburg, “The Letter Kills: On Some Implications of 2 Corinthians 3:6”, History and Theory 49; Wooden Eyes: Nine Reflections on Distance, Columbia University Press, 2001

[3]  Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, Death of Discipline (Columbia Univ. Press, 2003)

[4] “The Death of Sanskrit”, Comparative Studies in Society and History 43, no.2 (April, 2001)

[5] Frank Kermode, The Sense of Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction, With a New Epilogue, Oxford University Press, 2000

[6] Spivak, Death of Discipline

[7] A novel by Joshua Cohen : ‘Like any epic, it defies summary and overflows with puns, allusions, digressions, authorial sleights of hand and structural gags-in the tradition of Thomas Pynchon, James Joyce, Jonathan Swift and Laurence Sterne. Its extravagant imagined world also suggests William Burroughs and Hunter Thompson, as well as the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch. Its voice, however, is consistently in the rhythms and vocabulary of New York Yiddish.’

[8] The Kingdom and The Glory: For a Theological Genealogy of Economy and Government (Homo Sacer II, 2)