Behind the Curtain : From Hobbes to Deleuze

Bradley, Arthur (2021) Behind the Curtain : From Hobbes to Deleuze. Problemi, 9-10.

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In this article, I seek to offer a set of notes towards what Walter Benjamin calls a political theological “rideaulogie” --- quite literally a “curtainology,” a study or science of the curtain. To be precise, I unpick four different readings or writings upon the political theological curtain: Hobbes’s façade; Benjamin’s curtainology; Deleuze’s fold, and Derrida’s tallith or prayer shawl. It is well documented by scholars as diverse as Blumenberg, Derrida and Hadot that the history of truth from Ancient Greece to modernity is itself a history of the veil. At the same time, the history of political theological truth-telling --- from Jewish, Christian and Islamic occultation and revelation to liberal iconoclasm and disenchantment --- is equally, if not more so, a dialectic of (un-)veiling. If Hobbes, Benjamin, Deleuze and Derrida are thoroughly enveloped in this political theological history of the curtain --- which is also an entire metaphysical history of the relation between interiority and exteriority, appearance and essence, surface and depth and so on --- I argue that they each seek to fold, pleat or re-double this history differently: what is unveiled in their work is a certain inexplicability (from the Latin inexplicabilis, literally "what cannot be unfolded or disentangled” --- AB). In Hobbes’s curtain, for instance, we do not encounter an absolute divide or threshold between the outside and the inside --- between the state of nature, say, and society --- so much as the “becoming-inside” of this outside: the Hobbesian Commonwealth does not lie behind the curtain but, inexplicably, may be the curtain itself.

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21 Jun 2022 09:00
Last Modified:
15 Jul 2024 22:45