The Unspeakable Girl
Images by Monika Ferrando
Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben is the rare writer whose ideas and works have a broad appeal across many fields, and his devoted fans are not just philosophers, but readers of political and legal theory, sociology and literary criticism as well. Agamben’s intuition and meditation are fascinating, and not least when he turns his critical eye to the mysteries and contradictions of early religion.
‘What is distinctive about Agamben’s presentation of this story is the way he highlights the role of Judaic-Christian concepts like creation and free will in helping to bring about a sense of being—a temporalization and historicization of being—that dissolves the unified grounded cosmos of the pagan tradition [. . .] In the course of the six chapters making up this well-designed little book (handsomely illustrated by Ferrando, who also provides a useful selection from ancient sources at the back), Agamben touches on various intertwined topics: the relation of the mystery cults to European painting, to early Hegel, and to the image philosophies of Warburg and Benjamin; the essentially comic, not tragic, character of the Eleusinian rituals; the Dionysian animality or monstrosity of the triple goddess and the Medusan aspect of the kore or divine child in particular; and, finally, the research of Odo Casel, a twentieth-century German Benedictine monk, for whom Christian liturgy was in essence not doctrine but mystery.’ —Radical Philosophy
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