Admittedly, I’ve been largely quiet on here for some time. There’s a good deal more I wish to say in 2018, and I hope those who enjoyed the first entries in my series on the post-metaphysical will find upcoming content worthwhile.
Even in the absence of writing, there were many good books that I read in 2017, and provided below are my top five favorite books (presented in order). Only two of the five listed were published this year, while the rest have been available for some time now. Each, of course, comes highly recommended. Happy reading!
- Deja Vu and the End of History — Paolo Virno (link)
It would be safe to say that Paolo Virno is my favorite living Marxist scholar, and I find it disappointing that his work is not more prominently featured in academic discussion. Regardless of his respective influence in American political theory, or lack thereof, his treatise in Deja Vu is quite simply, superb. Using the phenomenon and experience of deja vu to demonstrate the absorption of history within the capitalist milieu, Virno suggests, quite radically, that what capitalism desires is the “production faculty” of the human person, for if capitalism acquires the productive faculty before the act (e.g. the “essence” prior to any act of speech or labor), then the concept of time virtually disappears, bringing with it the “end of history.” In 2018, I plan to release a journal-length piece detailing Virno’s philosophy of language, and this book will be the primary text.
- Our God Loves Justice: An Introduction to Helmut Gollwitzer — W. Travis McMaken (link)
You may read my full review of this book here. Suffice it to say, Gollwitzer’s analysis of the relationship between theology and political theory is desperately needed for our time. For those interested in such discussion, religious or otherwise, you will find McMaken’s introduction to the life and theology of Gollwitzer engaging and enlightening.
- Blood: A Critique of Christianity — Gil Anidjar (link)
No other book I read in 2017 challenged my theological sensibilities more than Anidjar’s Blood. The subtitle was, initially, off-putting, but after finishing the text, no other subtitle would do! Anidjar’s thesis is simple: what does “blood” signify for Christianity, and in what ways has the development of the concept of blood affected modernity? I won’t spoil Anidjar’s argument, and there are many resources available online engaging with this text (for example, Syndicate’s symposium). Regardless, I now see Christianity in a different light, one in which partially explains its connection to the project of modernity. Anidjar’s critique is worth reading.
- Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming — Catherine Keller (link)
We should let the text speak for itself, even in the gaps, silence, and interpretive license taken in translation. Keller is my favorite philosophical theologian, and her writing style is effortlessly rich, bold, and readable. While the premise of the book itself is rather simple—Christianity has gone to great lengths to ignore what the biblical text says regarding the Genesis narrative—her avenue in expanding this thesis is beautiful. Weaving patristic theology, fiction, and post-structuralist analysis of the biblical text in relation to Ancient Near East mythology, one cannot help but walk away with a deeper appreciation for the biblical text, let alone the complexity resting beneath the surface.
- October: The Story of the Russian Revolution — China Miéville (link)
It goes without saying that the Russian Revolution is a complicated, yet integral event in modern political history. Regardless of whether one agrees with the philosophical underpinnings which led to the revolution itself, no one can deny the importance of the revolution. Miéville’s narrative is readable despite the historical complexity and number of individuals involved. It reads like a novel, yet never loses its connection to the history and people.