Jean-Louis Chrétien’s “Interior Space”

Please follow the link for a translation of the Epilogue from Jean-Louis Chrétien’s 2014 book, L’espace intérieur, Interior Space:

chretien l'espace interieur interior space 2

The book is about the self, subjectivity, and interiority. Chrétien wants to show that the modern version of “subjectivity” has lost touch with its origin, its founding moments, which he traces to numerous Christian theologians and mystics. The crucial difference is this: whereas the Freudian “topic” sees an isolated psyche struggling to gain control of its unconscious tendencies and become master of self and world, the Christian “topic” instead focuses on the edification, exploration, and expansion of an interior space in which God may dwell. Of prime importance here is the presence of infinity or alterity that we can “house” within ourselves–whose residence we are. From the chamber of the heart in the Gospel of Matthew to St. Theresa’s Interior Castle, he uses Christian figures to illustrate the energetic, dramatic, and libidinal-economic dynamics at play in the Christian “topic” of interior space (“topic” for topos). Each chapter ends by showing how modern thinkers appropriated and twisted these figures, stripping of them of their God-orientation and tipping them toward the “kingdom of subjectivity.” Chrétien’s aim, however, is not proselytistic but philosophical and schematic: to show the intelligibility of this model of inhabitable personal identity and how it can overcome the impasses in modern thought about subjectivity.

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