Saturday, November 19, 2011
Jean-Luc Nancy on Chritianity's relationship with representation.
Audience: You described Christianity as the manifestation of the three major religions, and the beginning of the text you are talking about globalization and technology as the ultimate expression of the Christianity, which I agree with completely. I wonder if you can elaborate on the relationship which Christianity has with representation – what does this relation mean for technology?

Nancy: Good, that's very important. I would say perhaps that Christianity has a very important relation to representation precisely because Christianity elaborates a theory of the face, and of God being outside of any representation. There is through Judeo–Christianity the whole question of representation. The main mystery is a name not only for the unrepresentable as that which is beyond our limited powers of representation but available to the superior mind of an Angel, for example, but of something that doesn't belong to any realm of representation because it doesn't belong to presence. The main thing is that the Judeo–Christian, monotheist God doesn't belong to presence. It is not and acts not by presence, it is and it acts by absence or by retreating itself. From there I would once again come back to Heidegger. You have to consider that the Greek world is a world of the retreating of the Gods. The religion of the Greek is already no longer a religion in the sense of religion in the mythical world. There is the old question: Did the Greeks believe in their own myths? It is obvious that the Greek did not, meaning of course the philosopher and the scientist, that's all, not the people of Athens who were still practicing. So, the Greek world as the first step of the Occidental world is a world of retreating divinity in general. Historically speaking, the rise of Christianity certainly did not mark a kind of return of religion. Certainly it was similar to other religions that were spread around the Mediterranean at this time. At the same time it was shown to be an elaboration of something quite different, that is to say a religion of the exit from religion. Of course at the first moment it was not visible as such. So, I would say on one side Christianity depends on an impossibility of the representation of God. That means that God of the truth or the presence, of the sense of meaning is retreating itself away from representation. At the same time it gives the free space to any representation, and this is the possibility given to both scientific and aesthetic representation, as each of them as independent. With the Greek this is already the case with science but not exactly with the aesthetic. This is, I think, the double bind between Christianity and representation.
Nancy offers an interesting dynamic: if Christianity is taken to be compatible with MH's notion of presencing through absence (and I understand the early Church Councils to have struggled to avoid such interpretations; resurrection was bodily) then such human endeavors that depend on representation (technology and the arts) have room to develop. To go so far as to suggest the world of technology is Christian (as Nancy mentions in the complete article) is maybe a bit hyperbolic.

But to suggest that one can find an element in the early interpretations of Christianity that takes seriously a hesitating presencing in a retreat into absence not only shows how much Nancy has been influenced by MH but opens a dimension I have not heard before or even imagined.
Post a Comment

<< Home
For when Ereignis is not sufficient.

Appropriation appropriates! Send your appropriations to enowning at gmail.com.

View mobile version