Spiritual Organization and Epistemic Rupture: Questing for Zion in Roberto Bolaño's The Savage Detectives


  • Brantley Nicholson Duke University


Reflection upon the modernist project of the categorization of knowledge and the secularization of culture has caused an existential crisis for contemporary intellectuals. The modern approach to knowledge demonstrates a polemical existence in attempting to critically approach culture while at the same time maintaining a conscientiousness of the shortcomings of epistemic organization, signaling a light nostalgia for an approach to culture that precedes the totalizing epistemology that Modernity implies. As intellectuals reflect upon the violent advent of their respective fields, they show a latent desire to return to a mythological pre-modern idyllic space through the intellectual critique of Modernity. At the same time however, intellectuals tend to recognize the benefits of Modernity and the impossibility of returning to a pre-Modern social organization. The resulting existential crisis causes intellectuals to look for new options outside ofthe violent epistemic totalization waged by secular projects.