Friday, March 16, 2012

Blog-end Adlibs: [I] God is Unconscious or
Death of Self-Sacrifice. (25)

I believe that the true temperature was -16C that morning, down from -25C

© Eso A. B., 2012

The Monstrosity of Christ” is a book worth reading, whether the reader is interested in the reasons why it interests me or whether he-she finds additional or other reasons. Though not an easy read, the book reaches for an important political issue. Alas, it does not answer it.

As I understand it, Christ is referred to as a “”monstrosity” because philosopher Žižek (vs Professor Milbank, who does not  object to the term) sees Jesus as a God-man who, when all is said and done, boils down to an atheist. Not that Christ is a “monstrosity” per se, but because he dies as if for God, Who does not exist.

For Creston Davis, who writes the introduction to the book, the significance of the argument over Christianity between Žižek and Milbank is that “Christianity as approached by Žižek and Milbank uniquely proffers an emancipatory exit beyond the deadlock of capitalism and its supplement, liberalism—which in truth is a false politics sequestered by the owners of production in the name of freedom.”

Creston Davis, who writes the Introduction to the book, presents the reason why the argument between the two men is important: “The significance of the … debate ultimately arises from the fact that modern Christianity has finally met its doom. So I want (to raise)… a fundamental question: What becomes of theology after secular Enlightenment reason has run its course?” (p.21)

The answer to the question, as I see it, is whether in spite of being “doomed” as a question for theology, Christianity is able to continue as an “activist”. In other words, though the debate may, in the end, turn out to be rhetoric among the mute, there is enough juice (the monster) left in Christianity for it to affect the false politics of liberalism.

This “monster” put to sleep by liberal capitalism and its politics by putting something of a Dostoyevskian veto over the word 'slaughter'; Milbank: “Kirillov [of Dostoyevski’s “The Devils”] tries self-assertion, but logically concludes that the only irrefutable act of ‘divine’ self-assertion is self-slaughter.” If taken as not only ‘logic’, but also as a negation of self-sacrifice, self-slaughter does indeed act an inhibitory force against anyone’s assumption that every human being’s subjective presumption for him- and her-self is economic egalitarity.

While our time is more than vane in assuming that our post-post-modernisms are the last word in sophistication, whether it be religious, philosophical, or whatever, my belief is that such sophistication was within reach of many ‘ancient’ thinkers, as well. My personal proof of this can be found in Sophocle’s famous tragedy “Oedipus Rex”, which I have retold in “Oedipus Rex Rewritten”. My ‘rewrite’ centers around the argument that while child sacrifice as practiced at the Temple of the Sphinx at Thebes, is rightly put to a stop by Prince Oedipus, Oedipus was able to do so only by promising to replace it with self-sacrifice. When Oedipus the King failed to honor his promise (to Tiresias, the priest of the Sphinx). the plague of Thebes began and does not end until as a consequence of the death of most of his family members, Oedipus comes to understand that he indeed must self-sacrifice himself by self-slaughtering himself. As unpleasant (monstrous) as the word ‘self-slaughter’ is, the up-beat twist (which both philosophers fail to state) of their argument is that the word changes its meaning to “self-sacrifice”.

Though I concede that there are certain monstrous obstacles to my slip-slide from my perception of self-slaughter to my perception of self-sacrifice, it may be that these ‘obstacles’ are empty and mere rhetoric, which must be and is overcome by direct action.

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