COVER

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Title Page, Series Page, Copyright Page, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

CONTENTS

pdf iconDownload PDF

p. vii

read more

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-xi

This book owes its fi rst debt to the architects of my own religious imagination. These are, above all the many others, my parents: Valerie Hungerford, English daughter of an Anglican priest and, in America, lifelong seeker after God under the (liberal) wings of the Episcopal Church; and Joel Hungerford, now deceased, a seeker, too, whose attraction to spiritual power and paranoid prophecy made me want to understand...

read more

INTRODUCTION: Belief in Meaninglessness

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. xii-xxi

This book is about belief and meaninglessness, and what it might mean to believe in meaninglessness. In American culture, belief that does not emphasize the content of doctrine has roots in the transcendentalist thinkers of the early nineteenth century, and among the Romantics more generally. Belief without content for Emerson—the experience of which he imagines, through the fi gure of the transparent eyeball...

read more

ONE: Believing in Literature

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 26-52

LEADING THE 1953 inaugural parade for President Eisenhower was a float known to its builders as “God’s Float.” Added to the parade lineup at the last moment, when a parade official noticed that the event might fail to represent the idea that “this was a nation whose people believed in God,” the float was constructed to make that abstract point concrete. It was built around a “central edifice denoting a place of...

read more

TWO: Supernatural Formalism in the Sixties

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 53-76

WHEN ALLEN GINSBERG testifi ed at the Chicago Seven trial in December of 1969, Judge Julius J. Hoffman and his Federal District Court saw before them the fi gure who defi ned Beat poetry in the popular imagination. Ginsberg appeared in 1969 as he had since his return from India in 1963 and as he would for most of the next two decades: a countercultural fi gure, a thin man with full beard, heavy- framed glasses, and long hair cascading from the edges of a growing bald spot. This was the...

read more

THREE: The Latin Mass of Language

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 77-100

TO TRADE argument for incantation, as Ginsberg’s poetry does, is not what the reformers of the Roman Catholic Church aimed for in the Second Vatican Council, convened from 1962 through 1965, roughly the years when Ginsberg was transforming his poetic practice. Instead, Vatican II sought to reform the practices of the Church such that instruction in the faith would become increasingly prominent in the experience of the lay Catholic. The mystical and incantatory aspects of the mass would...

read more

FOUR: The Bible and Illiterature

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 101-131

IN THE previous two chapters, I have shown how particular writers, working in the context of certain popular religious cultures, turn to the material aspects of language as the foundation for a literary mysticism, to fi nd a way of believing without doctrine, to craft a belief without meaning that will satisfy the religious longings that are so much on the surface of both Ginsberg’s and DeLillo’s work. In this chapter, I examine the fate, in the late twentieth century, of what is probably the literary text that is, as...

read more

FIVE: The Literary Practice of Belief

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 132-156

CLIFFORD GEERTZ begins his infl uential essay, “Religion as a Cultural System,” with the following epigraph from the early- twentieth- century philosopher and novelist George Santayana: Any attempt to speak without speaking any particular language is not more hopeless than the attempt to have a religion that shall be no religion in particular. . . . Thus every living and healthy religion has a marked idiosyncrasy. Its power consists in its special and surprising message and in the bias which that revelation gives to life. The vistas it opens and the mysteries it propounds...

read more

CONCLUSION: The End of The Road, Devil on the Rise

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 157-165

THE WRITERS I have considered in this book turn to religious understandings of language at moments of high ambition in their work and at watershed moments in their careers. For Ginsberg, the turn to supernatural formalism comes during his poetic crisis of 1960–1961. For other writers, we can track the importance of the religious turn in the structure of the work itself: they place their most potent evocations...

NOTES

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 166-199

BIBLIOGRAPHY

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 200-211

INDEX

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 212-219