I recently read Tamsin Jones’ article on the parallels between the disruption of the subject in “postmodern,” specifically phenomenological, approaches to religion and the disruption of the subject in trauma. She draws compelling parallels between the ways in which Immanuel Levinas and Jean-Luc Marion talk about the self’s encounter with the invisible, unbearable, absolute, irregardable Other (which Marion calls the saturated phenomenon) and the ways in which trauma theory talks about the self’s encounter with the traumatic event. The parallel is particularly disturbing since thinkers like Marion associate the saturated phenomenon with the divine.
This caught my attention because I have noticed myself having to make a differentiation in my own work between something like what Jones identifies from a more positive kind of interruption. We both seem to share a conviction that the “ethics of alterity” is a good and necessary move in philosophy and religion as well as an awareness of the ways in which this can nevertheless slip into violence. I wish I’d had the language of trauma and Jones as conversation partner earlier, as I was writing my book but in lieu of that, this is my attempt to bring her work into the conversation. Continue reading “Trauma and the Saturated Phenomenon: Distinguishing Interruption from Rupture”