Date of Award
Aesthetics, Literature, Political, Psychedelic, Theology
Using the discourse of Political Theology as a mode of enquiry we can overcome a longstanding tension between aesthetics and history that characterized much of twentieth century thought. Focusing on literary and occasionally musical works from the mid twentieth century, my aim is to show how works displaying psychedelic aesthetics are important venues for political deliberation with regard to citizenship. Through affective means, psychedelic aesthetics reimagine the boundaries of liberal subjectivity through a consciousness expansion and return from that expansion. The subject who returns from a psychedelic “experience” – which can be attained in various ways – comes to ethically realign and re-norm his or her “self” according to a moral authority beyond the authority of the nation state. While critical of liberalism on one level, this “expanded” citizenship ultimately offers liberalism political advice in crisis situations by performing a public sacrifice on the state and disseminating social responsibility to individuals. Psychedelic aesthetics perform this ‘public sacrifice’ through affective enchantment, using spiritual and religious rhetoric to change the relationship between citizen and state. Because artistic works of the mid twentieth century are essentially “ahead of the game” regarding states of exception and economic crises, it is to this period that we should look for methods of cultural recovery in current ones. But this requires that we take both aesthetic and religious enchantment seriously in a post-secular world.
Green, Roger K., "Beware of Mad John: Political Theology, Psychedelics and Literature" (2013). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 245.
Received from ProQuest
Roger K. Green
Literature, Aesthetics, Philosophy