Crawley’s book theorizes Blackpentecostalism (BP) as an extra-subjective mode of being together—grounded in, and as a celebration of, the flesh. As a “way of life” (138) based on itinerancy and choreosonicity, BP is ultimately a (non)being, or, as he puts it, a “being beside oneself in the service of the other” (5). Methodologically, it is important to note that for Crawley, BP is not a contained historical event. Its use as reference point is useful insofar as it indexes a genealogical set of practices rooted in blackness as a performative critique, enacted throughout history, of “normative modes of theological and philosophical reflection” (7). 

This resonates with Foucault’s conceptualization of the “event” as I have come to understand it, which is to say, with how I am trying to think of what I’m thinking as “saturated units of historical meaning” which is intended to sound and act as a relational unit of analysis. For Foucault, the event is both independent and relational, a way of bracketing the social and otherwise effects of several dynamic forces as they express themselves in ways that become significant under a given set of epistemological assumptions and expectations. So, historicising becomes a process of destabilization of historical foundations in favor of a genealogical approach within which the singling out of an event is always ever just a means to index the relational ecosystem that gave rise to it. “Events as singular eruptions”

Crawly’s second chapter (“Shout”) takes recourse in contraposing Enlightenment’s philosophical and theological traditions (more specifically Kant’s meditations on the sublime, aesthetics, and the subject, as well as Enlightened thought’s iterations in the Awakening revival) to the practice of shouting. He offers first insight into the precedents to shouting in BP–“Ring Shout” and the Sufi Dervish saut tradition (23). Crawley conceives these practices as genealogical, methodic, and intentional aesthetic practices. “Directionality”—as a counter-Western ethos—grounds his analysis for directionality helps us bridge 20th century Catholic practices with the Islamic orientation toward the East that is the legacy of African religious practices in the plantation. Direction also becomes a “material trace” of how social ecstasy is practiced through choreography. Thus, shouting, is a “sounding together” an “enfleshed performance” that is choreographed toward a particular orientation of “sociality as dissent” (103). 

Enlightened thought postulates that “aesthetic judgement is a detachment” of the body from the mental faculties necessary for the production of philosophical thought; the (aesthetic, thought, averted) object needs remain “impenetrable,” and this as the condition of possibility for the establishment of the identity of the philosopher as he who philosophizes, i.e. he who conquers, possesses, the object. Crawley tends to the opportunities afforded in the practice of shouting, which—as the space of excess, of enfleshment as a social source of joy where the choreographic and the sonic collapse—invalidates categorical distinction—pure reason—as a condition of possibility of thought, and offers in its stead an integrated zone of thought and/as eros where “sacred possibility is found” (126). 

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