Sunday, March 23, 2014
The subject of Law is "decentered" in the sense that it is caught in the self-destructive vicious cycle of sin and Law in which one pole engenders its opposite. Paul provided an unsurpassable description of this entanglement in Romans 7:- Slavoj Zizek, "Living in the End Times" (p.153-4)We know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold into slavery to sin. What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate. Now is I do what I do not want, I concur that the law is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh. The willing is ready at hand, but doing the good is not. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me. So, then, I discover the principle that when I want to do right, evil is at hand. For I take delight in the law of G_d, in my inner self, but I see in my members another principle at war with the law in my mind, taking me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Miserable one that I am!It is thus not that I am merely torn between two opposites, Law and sin; the problem is that I cannot even clearly distinguish them -- I want to follow the Law, and I end up in sin. This vicious cycle is not so much overcome as broken; one breaks out of it with the experience of love, more precisely, with the experience of the radical gap which separates love from the Law. Therein resides the radical difference between the couple Law/sin and the couple Law/love. The gap that separates Law and sin is not a real difference; their truth is their mutual implication or confusion -- Law generates sin and feeds upon it, one can never draw a clear line of separation between the two. It is only with the couple Law/love that we attain a real difference: these two moments are radically separated, they are not "mediated," one is not the form of appearance of its opposite. In other words, the difference between the two couples (law/sin and Law/love) is not substantial, but purely formal: we are dealing with the same content in the two modalities. In its indistinction-mediation, the couple is the one of Law/sin; in the radical distinction of the two, it is Law/love. It is therefore wrong to ask the question: "Are we forever condemned to the split between Law and love? What about a synthesis between Law and love?" The split between Law and sin is of a radically different nature than the split between Law and love; instead of the vicious cycle of mutual reinforcement, we ge a clear distinction of two different domains. Once we become fully aware of the dimension of love in its radical difference from the Law, love has, in a way, already won, since this difference is visible only when one already dwells in love, from the standpoint of love.
Friday, March 21, 2014
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
In order to grasp this parallax nature of violence, one should focus on the short-circuits between different levels, between, say, power and social violence: an economic crisis which causes devastation is experienced as uncontrollable quasi-natural power, but it should be experienced as violence. The same goes for authority: the elementary form of the critique of ideology is precisely to unmask authority as violence. For feminism, male authority is violence. I am referring here to Hannah Arendt who, in her "On Violence," elaborated a series of distinctions between "power," "strength," "force," "violence," and "authority." Force should be reserved for the "forces of nature" or the "force of circumstance": it indicates the energy released by physical or social movements. It should never be used interchangeably with power in the study of politics: force refers to movements in nature, or to other humanly uncontrollable circumstances, whereas power is a function of human relations. Power in social relations results from the human ability to act in concert to persuade or coerce others, while strength is the individual capacity to do the same. Authority is a specific source of power. It represents power vested in persons be virtue of their offices, or of their "authoritativeness" where relevant information and knowledge is concerned. There is such a thing as personal authority, such as, for instance, in the relation between parent and child, between teacher and pupil -- or it can be vested in offices (a priest can grant valid absolution even though he is drunk). Its hallmark is unquestioning recognition by those who are asked to obey: neither coercion nor persuasion is needed. Authority thus does not stem merely from the attributes of the individual. Its exercise depends upon a willingness on the part of others to grant respect and legitimacy, rather than on one's personal ability to persuade or coerce.- Slavoj Zizek, "Living in the End Times"
Saturday, March 8, 2014
- William Butler Yeats, "Politics"
HOW can I, that girl standing there,
My attention fix
On Roman or on Russian
Or on Spanish politics?
Yet here's a travelled man that knows
What he talks about,
And there's a politician
That has read and thought,
And maybe what they say is true
Of war and war's alarms,
But O that I were young again
And held her in my arms!
Sunday, March 2, 2014
An obscenity is any statement or act which strongly offends the prevalent morality of the time. It is derived from the Latin obscaena (offstage) a cognate of the Ancient Greek root skene, because some potentially offensive content, such as murder or sex, was depicted offstage in classical drama. The word can be used to indicate a strong moral repugnance, in expressions such as "obscene profits" or "the obscenity of war".