Dis-Enclosure: The Deconstruction of Christianity

Dis-Enclosure: The Deconstruction of Christianity

Dis-Enclosure: The Deconstruction of Christianity

Dis-Enclosure: The Deconstruction of Christianity

Synopsis

This book is a profound and eagerly anticipated investigation into what is left of a monotheistic religious spirit - notably, a minimalist faith that is neither confessional nor credulous. Articulating this faith as works and as an objectless hope, Nancy deconstructs Christianity in search ofthe historical and reflective conditions that provided its initial energy. Working through Blanchot and Nietzsche, re-reading Heidegger and Derrida, Nancy turns to the Epistle of Saint James rather than those of Saint Paul, discerning in it the primitive essence of Christianity as hope. The "religion that provided the exit from religion," as he terms Christianity, consists in the announcement of an end. It is the announcement that counts, however, rather than any finality. In this announcement there is a proximity to others and to what was once called parousia. But parousia is nolonger presence; it is no longer the return of the Messiah. Rather, it is what is near us and does not cease to open and to close, a presence deferred yet imminent. In a demystified age where we are left with a vision of a self-enclosed world - in which humans are no longer mortals facing an immortal being, but entities whose lives are accompanied by the time of their own decline - parousia stands as a question. Can we venture the risk of a decenteredperspective, such that the meaning of the world can be found both inside and outside, within and without our so-immanent world? The deconstruction of Christianity that Nancy proposes is neither a game nor a strategy. It is an invitation to imagine a strange faith that enacts the inadequation of life to itself. Our lives overflow the self-contained boundaries of their biological and sociological interpretations. Out of thisexcess, wells up a fragile, overlooked meaning that is beyond both confessionalism and humanism.

Excerpt

The original title of this book was La déclosion. That term may be said not to “exist” in the French language, and it is not farfetched to claim that the volume is itself an explication of its meaning. the word recurs frequently in many chapters, particularly the last one. That chapter shares its title with the volume as a whole, explicating the leitmotif of déclosion and carrying it to the brink of a further dialectical sublation. Therefore it may be useful at the outset to convey our understanding (without pretending to do any of the hard work Nancy’s texts themselves undertake) of déclosion.

Nancy uses déclosion to designate the reversal of a prior closing (foreclosure), an opening up. This opening is very general: more general than would be suggested by “disclosure,” which usage is pretty much limited to divulging classified information. Although Nancy’s subject matter is largely Christianity, as the subtitle, “The Deconstruction of Christianity,” states, it is not as ecclesiastical as a solution such as “de-cloistering” would have suggested. We have therefore settled on dis-enclosure, a term whose existential deficiency (like that of the French title it replaces) may be palliated by the fact that enclosure has been used, particularly by British historians, to refer to the movement by which lands previously held privately were made common domain, available for free-range grazing and other communal uses. Now this is, mutatis mutandis, precisely the sense Nancy heralds across a broad range of domains, in which history has closed in upon itself in its indispensable, inevitable, but eventually encumbering assignment of meanings.

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