This chapter introduces The Spiritual and Creative Failures of Representation: On Poetry, Theology and the Potential of the Human Being with a passage from Paul Celan’s Atemwende. In doing so, the intimate link between language and oppression, vast and complicated as it may be, and tangled up with movements of fear and structural injustice, are placed in front of the reader, introducing them to the occasion of reflection that this book will dwell within. Its trajectory is forecast in the summary of chapters, wherein the path is mapped ahead of time, from Derrida’s reworking of the “as if,” through the challenges of failure in the face of the theo-political, and wonders in the shadow of Agamben’s “atheology,” before entreating us to rest not in our failed representations, but precisely in that place in which all representations fail.
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