Thursday, March 24, 2011

Barth as an artistic follower of Mozart

Just recently finished Isolde Andrews' book Deconstructing Barth which compares Derrida's idea of the gift with Barth's economy of salvation. It was a creative way to view Barth because Andrews makes the point that modern theologies/philosophies attempt to create a nice, organized, neat system runs into problems when it tries to read Barth's works. Barth, in essence, like Derrida, leaves the inconsistencies, complexities and gaps in place in the texts in order to point out how we do not have a holistic view of things (223). In short, he creates a system of theology that is against any type of system much like Derrida does when he uses deconstruction.

The book ends on a high note when Andrews looks at the creative ability of Barth that he gets from Mozart (see pages 220-226). She writes: "Barth's general inspiration, like Mozart's music, emerges as Barth himself recognized, from the interaction of 'unconscious ideas and conscious methodology.'" This leads Andrews to say it is better to read Barth as an "artist rather than a scientist (221)." A scientist wants a final, complete word on a subject, whereas an artist creates and leaves room for further movement in life and in the life of a text. In short, Barth views things from the vantage point of an event.

I think there might be room here to see an event in line with Gilles Deleuze's understanding of it even though it is obviously close to Derrida's understanding of it (though I think Barth's event moves from above to bellow, whereas Deleuze's moves from below to wherever). Thus, Andrews suggests: "What Barth 'hears' is the trace of the event of God made man in the representation of the Gospel stories.... Barth merely, like a fine artist or his beloved Mozart, sets out in human language that which he hears the scripture saying, knowing that, like a musical work, the surprises, changes in key, rhythm, arguments must be heard then accepted or rejected as they are, regardless of whether the sound clashes at times or if it goes against conventions of musical taste (223)."

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