Spurred by Paul Griffiths’ intriguing review in Commonweal, I purchased Gillian Rose’s Love’s Work, her posthumously published memoir. I had not read Rose before; and I confess the book is unlike anything I’ve read. It can be read in an evening; but its effect remains far beyond the initial encounter.
Here is a passage that tantalizes and provokes:
It is the unrevealed religion that troubles us more than any revealed religion: the unrevealed religion which has hold of us without any evidences, natural or supernatural, without any credos or dogmas, liturgies or services. It is the very religion that makes us protest, “But I have no religion,” the very protestantism against modernity that fuels our inner self-relation. Yet this very protest founded modernity. This self-reliance leaves us at the mercy of our own mercilessness; it keeps us infinitely sentimental about ourselves, but methodically ruthless towards others; it breeds sureness of self, not ready to be unsure, with an unconscious conviction of eternal but untried election.
This unrevealed religion is the baroque excrescence of the Protestant ethic: hedonist, not ascetic, voluptuous, not austere, embellished, not plain, it devotes us to our own individual, inner-worldly authority, but with the loss of the inner as well as the outer mediator. This is an ethic without ethics, a religion without salvation.
Have others read Rose; and what is their reaction?