Jonatan Bäckelie | Subsecular Arts 2.0
The subsecular aims to conceptualize the experience of religion being forced into submission by a hegemonic secular culture. Attempts have been made over the years to speak of a “postsecular condition” and the “return of God” to critique the secularization thesis and to emphasize the continuous role religion plays in culture, politics and so on, but while the postsecular implies an understanding of religion and spirituality which at best is defined by the contours of the secular, the subsecular breaks open the discourse on religion to liberate human spirituality. Rather than allowing for secular society and its established values to dictate the terms for what religion could be, the subsecular accentuates the Spinozist notion that we do not know what a body can do. Philosopher Gilles Deleuze writes:
The slave only conceives of power as the object of a recognition, the content of a representation, the stake in a competition, and therefore makes it depend at the end of a fight on a simple attribution of established values
This is how postsecular religiosity has come to relate to power and it has thus turned its will to power upon itself. “The will to power,” according to Deleuze, “has its highest level in an intense form, which is neither coveting nor taking, but giving, creating.” More than simply conceptualizing the experience of religion being forced into submission by a dominant secular culture, the subsecular also describes a move away from a spirituality motivated by resentment that depend on established values, towards a spirituality of the future, which is indifferent to the outer boundaries of any hegemonic culture.
The subsecular language of domination and submission draws inspiration from the world of BDSM. The aim is to make clear that the submissive partner is in fact the one controlling the action. One could argue that “safe words” are not effective as subsecular people exit their spiritual dungeons to go on with their lives in secular societies. This is of course true but the intention is not to demand a safe space but to encourage a mindset of differential affirmation and radical self-expression, which is indifferent to hegemonic systems.