The Sacred Desert

David Jasper “The Sacred Desert: Religion, Literature, Art and Culture”
[Wiley-Blackwell, 2004]
“The Sacred Desert is a marvellous and truly integral conjunction of seemingly every dimension of that ultimate desert which is at once our deepest beginning and our deepest ending. Theological and poetic at once, and critical and historical simultaneously, it offers us a vicarious voyage into our most ultimate ground, a ground beyond God but nontheless embodying the totality of the Godhead. If that Godhead is an absolute nothingness, it is a truly actual nothingness, and most actual for us in that desert which is here so powerfully and so comprehensively evoked.” Thomas Altizer, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the State University of New York and Stony Brook

“The Sacred Desert provides a journey into the innermost core of the self–where the soul stands alone before an unknown God, who is both darkness and light. David Jasper has written a magnificent theological reflection on the depth of spiritual meaning sought and found by desert pilgrims in literature, art, film, history, and sacred scripture. A tour de force!”
David Klemm, University of Iowa
american desert
Table of Contents:
Foreword by David E. Klemm.
List of illustrations.
1. Introduction: Meeting Points.
2. The Bible, Schoenberg, and Heidegger.
3. The Desert Fathers: Wandering and Miracles.
4. Time and Memory, Wind and Space: The Desert and Mysticism.
5. Mysticism and Modernity: Thomas Merton meets Don Cupitt.
6. The Literature of the Desert: Travellers and Poets.
7. The Literature of the Desert: Novelists.
8. Artists: Georgia O’Keefe, Bill Viola and Abstract Expressionism.
9. Films of the Desert: Pier Paolo Pasolini, Wim Wenders, Claire Dennis.
10. Desert Theology and Total Presence: Poets William Blake, T.S. Eliot and Yves Bonnefoy meet Hegel and Altizer.
11. Conclusion: Meeting Point.
Postscript: The Desert and the Recent Wars in Iraq.

David Jasper is Professor of Literature and Theology at the University of Glasgow, and was the founding editor of the journal, “Literature and Theology”. He is the author of “The Sacred and Secular Canon in Romanticism” (1999) and co-editor of “The Bible and Literature: A Reader” (edited with Stephen Prickett, Blackwell Publishing, 1999) and “Religion and Literature: A Reader” (edited with Robert Detweiler, 2000).
david jasper
“In a recent book, “The Sacred Desert” (published by Blackwells in 2004), my research has ranged from some of the earliest of Christian theologians – the Fathers of the desert such as St. Anthony – to writers on the ‘deserts’ of the modern world, both geographical and interior. During the writing of this book I have spent time living as a solitary in the deserts of South Western United States of America, as well as a semester as Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Iowa. I have worked with art historians and artists including the prominent video artist Bill Viola, whose installations capture both the fertility of the desert for the human spirit, and the desolations of the desert of the modern cityscape. My work now continues this project, exploring the aesthetics of asceticism in the Christian tradition and in art and literature.”

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