Critical Theory and Early Christianity - Walter Benjamin, Gilles Deleuze, Alain Badiou, and Judith Butler - Matthew G. Whitlock

Critical Theory and Early Christianity - Walter Benjamin, Gilles Deleuze, Alain Badiou, and Judith Butler - Matthew G. Whitlock

3. Reading, Libraries, and Urban Change in the Shadow of Capitalism and Apocalypse: Reading Walter Benjamin and John of Patmos

Critical Theory and Early Christianity - Walter Benjamin, Gilles Deleuze, Alain Badiou, and Judith Butler - Matthew G. Whitlock

Robert Paul Seesengood [+-]
Albright College
Robert Paul Seesengood is Associate Dean of First-Year and General Education and Professor of Religious Studies at Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania. His research is focused upon the Bible in/and American popular culture and critical theory. He is author of several articles and monographs, most recently Philemon: Imagination, Labor and Love (T & T Clark). He is book review editor for the journal Bible & Critical Theory.

Description

Walter Benjamin’s Marxist critique of urban spaces, as exemplified in his description of the gritty French seaport Marseille in his essay “Chambermaids’ Romances of the Past City” and in his Arcades Project, focused upon the transformation of urban space through the forces of capitalism. Urban spaces become gentrified and made docile by the growth of capital and wealth. In his essay “Unpacking my Library”, Benjamin brings his attention to book collection and ownership as a secret attempt to commodify and control ideas, a capitalistic urge that shapes the center of even philosophy and spiritual transformation. The canonical Apocalypse of John also features urban transformations: the city of Rome (called “Babylon”) and its commercial enterprises are replaced with the Heavenly Jerusalem (Rev. 17; 20). Revelation also has a library; its catalog includes a seven sealed scroll (Rev. 4 and 5) and a Living Book (Rev. 20:12-15). In this essay, Seesengood reads John alongside Benjamin. How does John view the city, view reading, and view the dynamics of the two together? Public libraries began in American civic space with the goal of broad, populist access to knowledge and intellectualism.

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Citation

Seesengood, Robert. 3. Reading, Libraries, and Urban Change in the Shadow of Capitalism and Apocalypse: Reading Walter Benjamin and John of Patmos. Critical Theory and Early Christianity - Walter Benjamin, Gilles Deleuze, Alain Badiou, and Judith Butler. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Nov 2022. ISBN 9781781794135. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=30147. Date accessed: 30 Sep 2022 doi: 10.1558/equinox.30147. Nov 2022

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