August 3rd, 2003

hat

I thought I could say it in ten words.

some time ago a student questioned why I would put protestantism and rationality on the same side of the western equation given that she found religion in general to be irrational. I don't remember how I explained it but upon watching Beetlejuice moments ago (which was edited down so far that even though I had seen it before the story did not make a whole lot of sense. thank you superstation or as I knew it in my childhood channel 17) I found myself working out in my head (because that is what I do) the difference between the occult and the gospel of revelation and it occured to me that precisely the revelation is the difference.

now protestantism has no corner on revelation but for now I'll expand protestantism to mean christianity as I know it only later to distinguish catholicism from it which is ass backwards but might mirror in reverse what really happened.

let me just state right now that I am philosophizing and theologizing by the seat of my pants. it's all I really do ever but sometimes I get the feeling that others have been here more rigorously before me but haven't said out loud quite the things I wish had been said out loud by now.

basically the difference between the occult and the revelation of the word is that presence was presumed to be enacted in full in the person of the messiah, the revealed word, whereas the occult is, literally, that which is not known and can't be made present in any rational way and is therefore suspect in the eyes which thirst to see something.

it doesn't take a Derrida to point out that the revelation contains its own blind spot, its own occult origin, which consists in presuming a presence (God, capitalized) as the ground of presence, which is a way of asserting the effect as the cause of the effect and even of presuming that presence is assumable as a given effect to which we are all heir. see a present god, an incarnate god, doesn't suffice as the ground of being as such a god would already be and thus require a ground. god is a stopgap. god is the way we avoid infinite regress.

this is old news.

what I started out wanting to say is simply that the messiah who actually arrives is the enacting of a presence, an agent, behind the word, or behind language, when it may be that it is language which creates agency and the idea of presence and that the ground of language is anything but agency and presence but rather an unspeakable proximity (and differentiation) of the spoken to (from) the speaking to (from) the spoken of. the ground of the word is already the devil in me or the point at which agency is contaminated and contraverted by an other which cannot be presented in anything like a rational, or sayable, way, and which cannot be rationally placed at a viewable distance as a discrete presence.

if the messiah has arrived it would be as just such an other who is seperable and fixable and who incarnates a perfectly pronouncable history.

the occult on the other hand cannot be said and and haunts the said with the threat of a dissolution which is the condition of the said. hence its danger. death to the ultimate said, the "I," whereas the "I" as speaker is nonlocatable within the sentence itself.

I don't know if this is making sense. it is all notes. tomorrow I will look at it and say what the hell.

in any case, as far as light goes, as far as the seeable and sayable go, protestant christianity seems simply to want them to be present, for history to be complete, and for nothing to be left unseen. in this way it is the enabler of rationalism or a certain positivist bent of rationalism. the word incarnate is the word revealed and known, the word stripped of the obscurity of its own speaking.

I was going to say something about catholicism. I don't know what to say except that the pageantry is seductive and seems to me to move a little more closely to the thought that appearances and reality, this world and god's, are not so far apart or are perhaps both obscurely distant. that is all I know to say of it. there is much to object to in catholicism but rationality doesn't seem to be quite it.

so anyway this is what happens when I watch movies meant to entertain with the hilarity at the heart of darkness. exposition of said hilarity will have to wait for another late night.
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