A special project of The Immanent Frame to mark its tenth anniversary. Co-curated by Courtney Bender and Nancy Levene.
When we think of the ways of “generating an experience of full attentiveness” in devotional contexts we often tend to distinguish between affective and intellectual modes, and to produce typologies that are structured by this very axis. This, too, is something we will have to reconsider. What Marno teaches us with his reading of Donne’s devotional poetics is a new way of perceiving the correlation between sensation, affect, and cognition. Attention, as I see it now, forms a key to this. It is to be seen as a movement of the mind that creates the “spiritual body” as the empty space of a temporal interaction of these three seemingly disparate realms that, in devotional poetics, converge in a transformation of human existence.
If we should think past the division between secular and religious, and if secularism is merely the name for their separation, then secularism is badly in need of critique. But if secularism is also a name for the immanentist tradition, and if that tradition is a religious or religion-like tradition of its own, then perhaps in the sedimentary layers of its history secularism offers a way to hold in a single view both a critique of secularism as separation and an acknowledgment that much of the very tradition that produced that critique is immanentist—and thus secular. This is a refusal of identity: not all secularism is merely Christianity in drag and not all secular people are merely disenchanted Protestants. Here is the specter of immanentism.