Warning, Theoretical Content

Having placed two articles that I’ve been wanting to publish for a while, I’m forging ahead with the plan for my monograph on Differential Hermeneutics. If I devote a first chapter to what I take to be the problem (or perhaps preface = problem, first chapter = articulation of the way that the problem is inscribed in the dominant discourses of biblical studies), I’ll work up a subsequent chapter on the theoretical shortcomings with traditional (‘integral’) hermeneutics, drawing on the work I’ve published in the foreword to Faithful Interpretation and in my forthcoming ‘De-Coding Hermeneutics.’ Then I’ll have a chapter on the very idea of differential hermeneutics, grounded in the interpretation of non-verbal visual perception (again, based on ‘Sensual Hermeneutics’). After that — and here at last I’m getting to the point of this paragraph — I’ll sketch a practice of hermeneutics informed by the process of amplification, deployed by Freud (in a way) and HJung (explicitly) in their work with dreams. ‘Dreams?!’ you expostulate; ‘what have the frivolous contours of sleeping fantasy to do with the serious business of scientific, technical biblical interpretation?!’
‘Better cut down on your use of exclamation marks,’ I patiently riposte. Dreams are a useful test case for me for several reasons. First, they carry with them (arguably) no deliberate intentionality, so that ‘authorial intention’ doesn’t haunt the discourse the way it does in the interpretation of deliberately-composed texts. Second, amplification provides a ready-made model on which to yield. Third, dream-interpretation has a history in the philosophical analysis of meaning’ — here I will be interacting specifically with my intellectual hero Jean-François Lyotard, whom I’m rediscovering in a tidy recapitulation of my earliest research into poststructural accounts of meaning.
So I imagine I’ll post some quotations and meditations in dialogue with Freud, Jung, James Hillman, and Jean-François Lyotard over the next few weeks.
By the way, my work on amplification does not amount to an endorsement of the psychological positions of any of the theoreticians I’m working with. As usual, I find myself excited and provoked by their ideas, but very much unconvinced by their specific theories. I don’t think there’s a likelihood of your finding me offering workshops on Christian Polytheism, or The Collective Unconscious as the Holy Spirit, or anything like that. At the same time, I will be thinking a lot about desire in interpretation (I started this in my essay in Biblical Exegesis Without Authorial Intention, edited by Clarissa Breu); since everyone who undertakes biblical interpretation is also someone affected by desire, and since desire has been known to affect us in ways we do not intend or control, I expect there’s productive work to be done on this terrain. Likewise, Hillman’s approach to dream interpretation aims at generating interpretive plurality, thus aligning conveniently with my interest in differential hermeneutics.

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