When Eagleton emphasizes that Christian salvation is “performative rather than propositional”—“What distinguishes [Christ] from other Jewish prophets is not his heralding of the kingdom (the Baptist, for example, is all about that), but his insistence that it was faith in his own person that would determine how you stood with that regime” (xxix)—we should give this statement all due weight: the key thing that Christ added to the Old Testament teaching was himself. This is his true “extravagance”; all his other “ethical extravagances” are grounded in and follow from this one: that he is not merely God’s prophet, but is himself God—this is why his death is so shattering, an ontological (not only ethical) scandal. How, them, do we pass from this death to the Holy Spirit?Slavoj Žižek, The Monstrosity of Christ, pg 285-287 (via lukexvx)
Early in Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige (2006), when a magician performs a trick with a small bird which disappears in a cage on the table, a little boy in the audience starts to cry, claiming that the bird was killed. The magician approaches hi and finishes the trick, gently producing a living bird out of his hand—but the boy is not satisfied, insisting that this must be another bird, the dead one’s brother. After the show, we see the magician in the room behind the stage, bringing in a flattened cage and throwing a squashed bird into a trash bin—the boy was right. The film describes the three stages of a magic performance: the setup, or the “pledge,” where the magician shows the audience something that appears ordinary, but is probably not, making use of misdirection; the “turn.” where the magician makes the ordinary act extraordinary; the “prestige,” where the effect of the illusion is produced. Is this triple movement not that Hegelian triad at its purest? The thesis (pledge), its catastrophic negation (turn), the magical resolution of the catastrophe (prestige)? And, as Hegel was well aware, the catch is that, in order for the miracle of the “prestige” to occur, there must be a squashed dead bird somewhere. … The true Hegelian “synthesis” is the synthesis of these two options: the good news is the bad news itself—but in order for us to see that, we have to shift to a different agent (From the bird which dies to another one which replaces it; from the cancer-ridden patient to the happy doctor; from Christ as individual to the community of believers). In other words, the bird remains dead; it really dies, as in the case of Christ who is reborn as another subject, as the Holy Spirit.
There is, however, a key distinction between Christ’s dead body in Christianity and the squashed bird in the magician’s trick: in order for his trick to be effective, to work as a trick, the magician has to hide the squashed body from the audience, while the whole point of the Crucifixion is that Christ’s body is displayed there for everyone to see. This is why Christianity (and Hegelianism as Christian philosophy) is not cheap magic: the material remainder of the squashed body remains visible … although, of course, Christ’s body disappears from the sepulcher—the element of cheap magic religion cannot resist. … Again, the lesson of The Prestige is relevant here: in the middle of the film, Angier, one of the two competing magicians, travels to Colorado Springs to meet Nikola Tesla and learn the secret of Tesla’s teleportation machine he discovers that the machine creates and teleports a duplicate of any item placed in it. Angier returns to London to produce a new act, “The Real Transported Man”: he disappears under huge arcs of electricity and instantaneously “teleports” fifty yards from the stage to the balcony. When Borden, his competitor, inspects the scene after the show, he spots a trap door and beneath it a locked water tank with a drowning Angier inside. Angier was so committed to the illusion that every time he disappeared, he fell into a locked tank and drowned, and the machine created a duplicate who was teleported to the balcony and basket in the applause. This is how we should reread Christ’s resurrection in a materialist way: it is not that there is first his dead body and then its resurrection—the two events, death and resurrection, are strictly contemporaneous. Christ is resurrected in us, the collective of believers, and his tortured dead body remains forever as its material remainder. A materialist does not deny miracles, he just reminds us that they live behind disturbing material leftovers.
Marx recognized what becomes of human needs in an alienated world, and he actually foresaw with amazing clarity the completion of this process as it is visible only today. While in a socialist perspective the main importance should be attributed “to the wealth of human needs, and consequently also to a new mode of production and to a new object of production,” to “a new manifestation of human powers and a new enrichment of the human being,” in the alienated world of capitalism needs are not expressions of man’s latent powers, that is, they are not human needs; in capitalism “every man speculates upon creating a new need in another in order to force him to a new sacrifice, to place him in a new dependence, and to entice him into a new kind of pleasure and thereby into economic ruin. Everyone tries to establish over others an alien power in order to find there the satisfaction of his own egoistic need. With the mass of objects, therefore, there also increases the realm of alien entities to which man is subjected. Every new product is a new potentiality of mutual deceit and robbery. Man becomes increasingly poor as a man; he has increasing need of money in order to take possession of the hostile being. The power of his money diminishes directly with the growth of the quantity of production, i.e., his need increases with the decreasing power of money. The need for money is therefore the real need created by the modern economy, and the only need which it creates. The quantity of money becomes increasingly its only important quality. Just as it reduces every entity to its abstraction, so it reduces itself in its own development to a quantitative entity. Excess and immoderation become its true standard. This is shown subjectively, partly in the fact that the expansion of production and of needs becomes an ingenious and always calculating subservience to inhuman, depraved, unnatural, and imaginary appetites. Private property does not know how to change crude need into human need; its idealism is fantasy, caprice and fancy. No eunuch flatters his tyrant more shamefully or seeks by more infamous means to stimulate his jaded appetite, in order to gain some favor, than does the eunuch of industry, the entrepreneur, in order to acquire a few silver coins or to charm the gold from the purse of his dearly beloved neighbor. (Every product is a bait by means of which the individual tries to entice the essence of the other person, his money. Every real or potential need is a weakness which will draw the bird into the lime. Universal exploitation of human communal life. As every imperfection of man is a bond with heaven, a point at which his heart is accessible to the priest, so every want is an opportunity for approaching one’s neighbor with an air of friendship, and saying, ‘Dear friend, I will give you what you need, but you know the conditio sine qua non. You know what ink you must use in signing yourself over to me. I shall swindle you while providing your enjoyment.’) The entrepreneur accedes to the most depraved fancies of his neighbor, plays the role of pander between him and his needs, awakens unhealthy appetites in him, and watches for every weakness in order, later, to claim the remuneration for this labor of love.” The man who has thus become subject to his alienated needs is “a mentally and physically dehumanized being… the self-conscious and self-acting commodity.” This commodity-man knows only one way of relating himself to the world outside, by having it and by consuming (using) it. The more alienated he is, the more the sense of having and using constitutes his relationship to the world.Erich Fromm, Marx’s Concept of Man (via spectaculardistractions)
What would be my, how should I call it, spontaneous attitude towards the universe? It’s a very dark one. The first one, the first thesis would have been: a kind of total vanity. There is nothing, basically. I mean it quite literally. Like, ultimately there are just some fragments, some vanishing things, if you look at the universe it’s one big void. But then how do things emerge? Here, I feel a kind of spontaneous affinity with quantum physics. Where, you know, the idea there is that the universe is kind of a void, but a positively charged void. But then particular things appear when the balance of the void is disturbed, and I like this idea spontaneously very much.
The fact that it’s not just nothing, things are out there, it means something went terribly wrong. That what we call creation is a kind of a cosmic imbalance, cosmic catastrophe. That things exist by mistake. And I’m even ready to go to the end and to claim that the only way to counteract it is to assume the mistake and go to the end, and we have a name for this; it’s called love. Isn’t love precisely this kind of a cosmic imbalance? I was always disgusted with this notion of “I love the world,” “universal love.” I don’t like the world,—I’m basically somewhere in between “I hate the world” and “I’m indifferent towards it.” But the whole of reality, it’s just it, it is stupid, it’s out there, I don’t care about it. Love for me is an extremely violent act. Love is not “I love you all.” Love means, I pick out something and—it’s again this structure of imbalance. Even if this something is just a small detail, a fragile individual person, I say, “I love you more than anything else.” In this quite formal sense, love is evil.”
To attack and kill a police officer is to attack the fundamental basis of our society.
Home Secretary Theresa May (via e-schatology)
Well, at least she gets it.
If you’re a real Marxist, you wouldn’t use money. Only linen. Exchange everything with linen. Like, I’ll trade you 20 linen, for what? 2 coats?
But hey, first we’d better check, are you socially productive at the average level? What age is your linen machine, better be average or I’ll need more coats. Oh, and what do your workers eat? How far are you transporting these coats? What cut does Department 2 (and 3!) take? Whats the organic composition of your capital?
Capitalism treats deaths in the line of business as an unfortunate consequence.
When Mahatma Gandhi launched his campaign of peaceful resistance, Churchill raged that he “ought to be lain bound hand and foot at the gates of Delhi, and then trampled on by an enormous elephant with the new Viceroy seated on its back.” As the resistance swelled, he announced: “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion.” This hatred killed. To give just one, major, example, in 1943 a famine broke out in Bengal, caused – as the Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen has proved – by the imperial policies of the British. Up to 3 million people starved to death while British officials begged Churchill to direct food supplies to the region. He bluntly refused. He raged that it was their own fault for “breeding like rabbits”. At other times, he said the plague was “merrily” culling the population.
to those who think he’s some sort of saint