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Book: The Relational Dynamics of Enchantment and Sacralization

Chapter: 5. Mastery and Modernity: Control Issues in the Disenchantment Tale

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.30129


The general aim of this chapter is to distinguish between two ways of aligning oneself in relation to unpredictability. One represents the (“official“) stance of disenchanted moderns (religious or not), while the other appreciates the potentially empowering effects of surrendering to enchantment without thereby necessarily denying the risks involved. We will argue the following: 1) reducing life to engaging only in predictable affairs and opting for reliance over trust is impoverishing and ignores the need to attend to concerns regarding the precariousness of individuals’ capacity to trust; 2) one can engage in enchantment without denying that it may be risky; and 3) as long as enchantment is retrospectively translated into calculation (trust is retrospectively translated into reliance), the negative effects of unpredictable relational dynamics remain seemingly the effects of “letting go” (as opposed to the more complex effects of what happened afterwards, that is, the unpredictable but productive effects of compositions). We conclude by noting that another form of mastery is conceivable. It is not a mastery of “letting go”, but a mastery of engaging well with those things one co-composes, having let go (of certainty).

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