Mar 16, 2015
You can now order my first book God Is Unconscious: Psychoanalysis & Theology at Amazon. For those interested in reviewing the book, we will have details soon.
A theory of the unconscious is such an odd thing to write about, first because the unconscious itself is not something that exists at all but rather insists. It's a fiction with a potential, not a hidden tier of synaptic connection in the way that most people talk about “subconscious” motives. It’s a method of speaking indirectly to schematize behavioral repetition and patterns of thought, a way of showing every attempt at meaning or tribalism becomes infused with a false consciousness retroactively justified with limitless creativity all for the purpose of propping up a semblance of security.
Second, as the subtitle suggests, I am crossing not one but two theories of fictions, and instead of privileging one over the other I let them expose one another with the hope of producing more than the sum of their parts. And third, almost by definition, you can’t write about psychoanalysis without saying more than you mean to say about yourself. That’s unusual for an academic work, and it scares me a little, but it makes the project all the more personal to me. I researched this book during a very challenging time, and it's to those friends who were there while I researched, processed, outlined, wrote, edited, and rewrote this project that I owe this book’s completion.
So to just a few of you:
To Kester, you took an interest in my work early on and were the first to tell me over and over “write that book!” Back when it was merely an embryonic idea in my first year of doctoral work, I couldn’t imagine anyone would care what I had to say. You convinced me it was time to store the material in a book and launch it out into the world. You hosted me in London and talked through so many of the early ideas over late nights on your patio. You care so deeply about your friends, and you have a natural curiosity that I hope I can always emulate.
To Clayton, you went out on a limb and vouched for me back when you barely knew me. You’ve been a perfect academic mentor, always happy to be a sounding-board, and you’ve given feedback on talks and the early manuscript. Beyond your scholarship which clearly influences mine, I’ve seen how much your students genuinely love you, and that’s the kind of professor I hope to be. You have a reputation in our circles for enthusiastically supporting everyone you can, and I can vouch for that.
To Pete, in addition to writing the forward, you’ve been a constant source of encouragement with talking about how you conduct your work. It’s odd to think I started reading you within a week or so of beginning to read philosophy so long ago in my undergrad days, and it was your first book that put me on the path of seeing some nascent potential in applying philosophy to my interests in religion. I suppose I’m saying that this is your fault! We really only happened to become friends around the time I started writing this, and you’ve been there for me to the final product.
To Jack, I don’t know if you’ll even see this, but I have a lot of respect for you and couldn't tell you how much it’s meant to me to talk through my ideas with such a great mind. I’ll never forget talking late into the evenings at the bar in Cheltenham, and even though we have different opinions on psychoanalysis, you have been nothing but gracious and encouraging wherever we have had time to catch up. I started my reading in this field of radical theology with your books in my first year of seminary, and what I have produced four years later is indebted to your work.
To a great group of friends in Los Angeles and back home—Steven & Kelli, Keegan, Shane, Luanne, Billie & Rob, several Nates, Tim, Zach, Lucas, Sean, Barry, Tripp, and Bo—you all were there for me during the period where I was processing the material that is now in book form. You all are among the very few who know me well enough to see exactly where my work—ostensibly about psychoanalysis and theology—is often enough just my attempt to process who I am.
To the Wipf & Stock crew, you all put up with the revisions and questions that only a brand new author can panic about. And thanks to Dave, who said “hey, I know this publisher I can introduce you to.” And to Jesse, I never imagined I would see so many people online, who know nothing about me or my work, becoming interested based purely on such a great first stab at a design. You all are great at what you do.
And finally Deven, you’ve been there through wins and setbacks throughout the whole time we’ve been together. You edited the manuscript and offered so much feedback to the point that you probably deserved your name on the cover given the amount of re-writing we did together. As a fellow educator who cares deeply about making the world a better place and who works so hard to make it so, you are the first to remind me that nothing we do matters if it doesn’t translate to enrich the common good. You have supported me and believed in me all the way to the finish, and I couldn’t ask for a better partner.
There are probably another fifty or so who have helped with questions, promoted my work online, responded to my talks, and encouraged me to run with this odd line of scholarship simply by helping me believe this material matters to people. You all are the best.
Mar 6, 2015
Feb 27, 2015
While Amazon is temporarily out of stock of my book, my publisher is offering a 40% discount if you order directly from the publisher’s website ($11.40 as opposed to Amazon’s $19) using the promo code “DELAY”.
I know this does nothing for my friends outside the US, but Amazon should be supplied in all regional markets in the next week or two!
Of course you can still pre-order on Amazon if you wish.
Peter Rollins discusses my book here.
Feb 23, 2015
I am very pleased to announce that my first book God Is Unconscious: Psychoanalysis & Theology is now available for order! It will be available through Amazon and elsewhere for international orders in the next few weeks, but you can order it now at the publisher's site.
“Slow reading can bear fruits that are inaccessible to those who merely skim an author. DeLay has read Lacan diligently and searchingly, and he has come up with some important insights into the complex relationship of psychoanalysis, religion, and theology. Students of religion will profit from his clear and careful exposition of Lacan’s rich and provocative thought. And students of Lacan will come to understand why only theologians can be truly atheistic: our loyalties for deities come and go, but the true Other is neither in need of defense nor threatened by our disloyalties.” - Ingolf U. Dalferth
“Tad DeLay has bravely explored and mapped the notoriously difficult territory of Lacan that others have only dared to read about second-hand. We should not only salute his courage but be hugely grateful for the gifts he has returned within this rich and important book at the bleeding edge of psychoanalysis and theology.” - Kester Brewin
“God Is Unconscious is a brilliant and accessible overview of Lacan’s thought, demonstrating how it directly applies to religion and politics. DeLay develops an original understanding of perversion and how it applies to contemporary conservative Christianity. Anyone interested in understanding how religion works in social, political, and psychological terms should read this book.” - Clayton Crockett
Feb 16, 2015
“Our faith in others betrays in what respect we would like to have faith in ourselves.” - Nietzsche
“It is when the Word is incarnated that things really start going badly.” - Lacan
“The underside of a signifier’s power to tell us who we are contains an ever-present, if only latent, power to construct the most unforgivable narratives. And so in our twenties or thirties we enter therapy to begin to discern what happened to us in our earlier years. We imagine we begin the process for any number of reasons, but the psychoanalysts raised the idea that all these reasons are derivatives of two—and ultimately only two—reasons we seek this solution. First, we feel separated by a constitutive and fundamental lack in ourselves and suspect we will never be loved, accepted, or known as fully as we wish. Second, our alienation ensures we shall never fully escape our history, and it is profoundly disturbing to realize the best and the worst experiences mold us in ways beyond our control. We are irrevocably the symptom of the experiences shaping our desire, and we cannot regress to a neutral state of non-conditioned naïveté.
Our alienation begins the moment we learn as infants that there rules of the house we are powerless to protest. This trace inscription evolves into an elaborate latticework of self-imposed injunctions that shape our identities. Like the old Stalinist motto—the more you profess your innocence, the more you deserve to be shot—the more we obediently submit to the superego crafted precariously from our parents and friends, our political economies and our books, our demons and our gods, the more we are under its judgment. We live in the aftermath of the signifier’s incarnation, we adopt our psychopathological dispositions, and we anxiously feel the gaze of what became called the ‘big Other.’”
Feb 13, 2015
This is a separate project I've been waiting for, and I am pleased to announce this book's release today. It is truly an honor to share space with John Caputo, Catherine Keller, Brian McLaren, Clayton Crockett, Peter Rollins, Barry Taylor and plenty of other brilliant people. So many in this group have become friends over the last two years, and I am excited to see this out.
Order from Amazon.
Special thanks to Erin and Ryan Schendzielos along with Micah Purnell.
Feb 9, 2015
I'll be posting a few excerpts for these last few weeks leading up to my book's release. This is the first:
“The voice of intellect is a soft one, but it does not rest until it has gained a hearing.” - Freud
“I did not write them in order for people to understand them, I wrote them in order for people to read them. Which is not even remotely the same thing . . . People don’t understand anything, that is perfectly true, for a while, but the writings do something to them.” - Lacan
“Sailing into New York Harbor, Sigmund Freud stood on the deck with Carl Jung and gazed out at the statue illuminating the world. Their arrival was a much-anticipated event for American psychologists so very curious of what this new theory of the psyche could expose. Whether out of hubris or prescience—and are they not often one and the same?—Freud turned to his disciple and whispered, ‘They don’t realize we’re bringing them the plague.’”
Feb 5, 2015
My first book will release in March.
From Peter Rollins:
“[The psychoanalyst’s] teachings have not only been productive in generating new concepts and distinctions but have provided ways of challenging the very frame these disciplines used to approach their respective areas of inquiry…With God Is Unconscious, Tad DeLay has boldly entered this fray with an important contribution that offers clear coordinates with which to navigate the landscape of Lacan’s teaching while also preserving his unique voice…DeLay has spent years with Lacan’s teachings. He has sat with them, worked through them, and let them speak into him. The fruit of that labour is an insightful and fertile text that will prove invaluable for those who wish to grapple with Lacan seriously and theologically.”
Special thanks to Jesse Turri for cover design.
Nov 3, 2014
My first peer-reviewed article was just published with IJŽS. I wrote this almost two years ago, but aside from a few changes I’d make after reading the full work of Lacan, I still like what I wrote. Read it here.
“Excess: The Obscene Supplement in Slavoj Žižek’s Religion and Politics”
Slavoj Žižek often refers to an obscene excess-supplement that, depending on the subject’s pathological disposition, serves to either 1) sustain a conscious injunction by disavowing an unconscious “underside” or 2) instruct the subject to transgress the injunction. This supplemental excess is at work in neurotic and perverse belief but functions in significantly different modes depending on whether the supplement affects the ego or superego. This paper surveys and analyzes Žižek’s use of the obscene excess-supplement in his theological and political applications of psychoanalytic theory.
“In various places people are surprised. What's eating them, these students, the little dears, our favorites, the darlings of civilization? What's up with them? Those who are saying this are playing the fool, this is what they are paid to do.” - Lacan
“The ideology of the right-wing intellectual, is precisely to play the role of what he is in fact, namely, a ‘knave.’ In other words, he doesn't retreat from the consequences of what is called realism; that is, when required, he admits he's a crook.” - Lacan
With the election tomorrow, it’s as good a time as any to post this short talk I gave at the LoftLA over the summer on the cynic and the fool. Lacan taught that the progressive politician plays the role of a fool that directly believes in the causes promoted and yet depends on a logic of misdirection with regard to the cause underneath the cause, which is always economic. On the other hand, Lacan noticed that right-wing politicians operate as cynics who will admit in private that they are far too educated to believe in much of the rhetoric they use in campaigns. Groups of skeptics desire a leader that believes directly, and groups of fools desire a leader that will tell their ears what they want to hear.
I wrote more on this in a previous post.
I explore these ideas in my forthcoming book God Is Unconscious: Psychoanalysis and Theology.