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The Indiscrete Image

Infinitude and Creation of the Human

Humanity’s creative capacity has never been more unsettling than it is at our current moment, when it has ushered us into new technological worlds that challenge the very definition of “the human.” Those anxious to safeguard the human against techno-scientific threats often appeal to religious traditions to protect the place and dignity of the human. But how well do we understand both theological tradition and today’s technological culture? In The Indiscrete Image, Thomas A. Carlson challenges our common ideas about both, arguing instead that it may be humanity’s final lack of definition that first enables, and calls for, human creativity and its correlates—including technology, tradition, and their inextricable interplay within religious existence.
Framed in response to Martin Heidegger’s influential account of the relation between technological modernity and theological tradition, The Indiscrete Image builds an understanding of creativity as conditioned by insurmountable unknowing and incalculable possibility through alternative readings of Christian theological tradition and technological culture—and the surprising resonance between these two. Carlson concludes that the always ongoing work of world creation, tied essentially to human self-creation, implies neither an idol’s closure nor an icon’s transcendence, but the “indiscrete image” whose love makes possible—by keeping open—both the human and its world.


"Scrupulously, and refreshingly, The Indiscrete Image avoids joining the so-called culture wars. . . . What Carlson fashions is something more basic than all that—built from the material of tradition and the worldliest contemporary reflection, he describes a way of thinking about being human in the mess of modernity."

Nathan Schneider | Religion Dispatches

Table of Contents

1                      Of God or a Salamander: The Creative Human as Indiscrete Image
2                      “I am”: Technological Modernity, Theological Tradition, and the Human in Question
3                      The Living Image: Infinitude, Unknowing, and Creative Capacity in Mystical Anthropology
4                      Of the Indefinite Human: Religion and the Nature of Technological Culture
5                      Here Comes Everybody: Technopoetics and Mystical Tradition in Joyce
6                      To Inherit: The Birth of Possible Worlds

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