Category: Derrida

from a distance

by Andrea Elizabeth

I have just refreshed myself on Jacques Derrida’s differance by skimming some things on his Spectres of Marx. Basically I like how he poetically describes critiquing meaning and value. Capitalists probably inflate value and Communists probably disrespect value. I think the industrial revolution caused both of these conditions, but it did create the convenient middle class. One can step outside and reevaluate that as well. I think the reason Derrida loves so much to step outside is because the status quo did not work for him, expecially because of anti-Semitism directed towards him in his childhood. To relate this to my last post on Traditionalism, I think hard line traditionalists are so because it works for them and they believe it should work for everyone. The disenfranchised tend to ditch tradition because it did not work for them. This is usually the case for the villains in superhero movies, like The Incredibles’ Syndrome.

As a young Buddy Pine, the boy who would become Syndrome aspired to become a superhero and this goal led him to beg Bob Parr to hire him as a sidekick, “Incredi-boy!”. Sadly, after Bob categorically refused to grant Buddy’s favor, Buddy returned home in disgrace and rejected the righteous path. He became embittered and eventually descended into megalomania.

Could Bob have been less dismissive and taught him a better path? The rest of the article explores that.

At least Derrida, unlike Syndrome, detaches himself from his experience, and asks others to as well, instead of letting his passions lead him awry.

Why it doesn’t seem that tradition works for everyone is another question. One’s sins and one’s relationship to it is certainly one reason, but I suspect there are many others as well including innate handicaps and experienced mistreatments. This is where the perception and maturity of one’s Priest is so important. One size does not fit all.

This post swims apricots

by Andrea Elizabeth

Absurdist literature can be interpreted as nihilistic, or apophatic, or a therapeutic antidote for determinism. It is a painful therapy for those who like tidy patterns, however.

What if all our opinions fall way short of reality, and God just does damage control and allows the illusion to keep life from feeling chaotic and from the panic and despair that would result. But panic and despair are based on a certain confidence in cause and effect, that if my idea of goodness is false, then badness must necessarily be true. This is still based on the same perceived order. If one were truly convinced that things are not as they seem, then there remains the possibility that things are better than they seem. Maybe one could blindly believe that.

Why did Derrida eat the toast?

by Andrea Elizabeth

If he can’t know the toast, and if there is no intention for the toast, why consummate the relationship? If there is to be a respectful, un-possessive distance between the other and oneself, how can one eat? Hypocrit!

Maybe he could rationalize thusly: decomposition is related to deconstruction. Digestion aids the process.
Yes, but you are eating for constructive purposes!
Yes, while I am simultaneously shedding cells and forgetting things. I will eventually be torn apart as well in the grave. Entropy will triumph.
So why slow it down in your own body by eating?
Because it is important for me to live and explain why we can’t know things.
How do you know we can’t know?
Switch. Even the Fathers agree we can’t know essences, only energies.
Then we shouldn’t eat them.
You can’t digest an essence.
No, but in eating its body, you are forcing it to surrender its energy. I think this is why some Saints only ate Communion. Christ willingly gave His Body to be our food.
But what of the bread and wine that are taken from the earth?
The most blessed creation is that which Christ assumes. He is creator and beneficent wearer. If all one ate was Communion, worthily partaken, one would share in Christ’s blessed relationship with things. As God, He knows the essence of things he created. I don’t know if a divinized person can. To know an essence, one has to be that essence. Since all creation shares the same elemental construction, we should be able to know the nature of created essences. Therefore, Derrida knows the toast. I won’t get into knowing God.

Speaking of understanding

by Andrea Elizabeth

from today’s Prolog of Ohrid:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; on your own understanding rely not” [Proverbs 3:5).

If all the mountains would move toward you, would you be able to push them back with your hands? You could not. If darkness after darkness of all the mysteries in the heavens and on the earth rushed to the small taper of your understanding would you, with your understanding, be able to illuminate the darkness? Even less! Do not rely on your understanding for, from the perishable matter which you call intellect, a greater portion of it is nothing more than dead ashes. O man, do not rely on your understanding for it is a road over which a mob rushes a hungry, thirsty, motley and curious mob of sensual impressions.

O man, trust in the Lord with all your heart. In Him is understanding without end and all-discerning. The Lord says: “I am understanding; mine is strength” (Proverbs 8:14). He looks on the paths on which your blood flows and all the crossroads on which your thoughts wander. With compassion and love He offers Himself to you as a leader and you rely on your darkened and perishable understanding. Where was your understanding before your birth? Where was your understanding when your body was taking form, when your heart began to beat and flow with blood, when your eyes began to open and when your voice began to flow from your throat? Whose understanding was all this while your mind was still sleeping as charcoal in a coal mine? Even when your understanding awoke, can you enumerate all the illusions which it has delivered to you, all the lies in which it has entangled you, all the dangers which it did not foresee? O my brother, trust only in the Lord with all your heart! Until now, He has rescued you numerous times from your own understanding, from illusions and its lies and from danger in which it has pushed you. A blind man is compared to the man who can see, so is your understanding compared to the understanding of God. O blind one, trust in the Leader. O brother, trust only in the Lord with all your heart.

O Lord, All-seeing, Eternal and Infallible Understanding, deeper than the universe and more radiant than the sun, deliver us, even now from the errors of our understanding.

Fr. Loudovikos in A Eucharistic Ontology also criticizes philosophy’s reliance on thinking. “Thus Heidegger in his testament entitled, ‘The end of philosophy and the task of thought’, talks directly about the end of philosophy, understood as the end of metaphysics or ontology in our times (these having anyway been swallowed up by the sciences), and locates the only future for thought in the free mythopoetic quest for truth through thinking; and he does not seem bothered by the fact that the linkage of thinking and truth is a survival of the same essential identification of thinking with being” (page 5). This reliance on thinking is very egocentric and subjective even though it opens itself to the unknowability of the other and ultimately one’s own annihilation, the end result of complete kenosis. Thus also destroying reciprocity in love, dialogue and gift giving which are the essential components of the Liturgy.

The Rangers, Indians, animals and women

by Andrea Elizabeth

‘He [H.L. Mencken] … conducted an epistolary debate on individualism with a socialist acquaintance that eventually appeared in book form as Men versus the ManMen versus the Man shows how his political thinking had solidified — hardened, really. The law of the survival of the fittest, he declares, is “immutable,” thus making socialism an absurdity; human progress is the product of the will to power, and all social arrangements failing to take this fact into account are doomed to failure; inequality is natural, even desirable, both in and of itself and as an alternative to mob rule; the world exists to be run by “the first-caste man.” ‘(quote in this very interesting, though sometimes disturbing, article by John Derbyshire. H/T facebook friend)

My newly awakened sense of ‘go get ’em’ in this World Series bid is leading me back to my individualistic political mindset. By the way, it is interesting to me that the article links individualism with nationalism, which is a group identity. I disagree with the point made about inequality, but see how one must accept a certain version of it to promote individualism. We do not all have the same abilities. My view on education has been that everyone can learn. I have not thought that much about can everyone think. I think my opinion about this comes largely from having a brother who was born with some brain damage. In many ways I think he was put in a category and not challenged enough. I think he could have excelled more than he did but for the “tyranny of low expectations” (G.W. Bush). I sense that tyranny in some places of the article.

On the other hand, for two of our six children it seems that most subjects come easier and more naturally to them than the other four, though of course they all excel in their own ways. The article does give a nod to people whose strengths do not match the current demand, and that this demand may change in time. For those two sons, however, it seems they have less blocks to learning. The wheels seem more greased. I think that everyone’s mind has a capacity to explore an infinite variety of subjects to an infinite degree, and some people’s bodies let them go further than others (because of the fall) in either sense. Inheritance (instead of “nature”), nurture, and will contribute to which limitations are placed on us. But we are not made to be limited. Our wills (still possibly shaped by inheritance and nurture) will keep us individuals though, even if all limitations are someday removed.

So here we are with varying strengths in varying areas. What about nationalism, which I’ll use as an affiliation with a group, and how we treat those “weaker”? Socialism seeks to even the playing field, which to some extent is the accepted thing to do nowadays. There are even new rules that keep rich baseball teams (Yankees) from buying all the best players. I don’t mind this, but what I mind more is that teams with a city’s name on them don’t have players from that area. But that’s not too irritating because I believe in adoption.

I also like the idea of the strong being able to see how far they can go. But that leads to the Yankees going to the World Series every year, monopolies, slave labor, genocide, extinction of animals and ancient trees, and women wearing burkas. Ideally strong people will be good sports and nice Christians and consider not only can we, but should we. Historically laws have to make this happen.

Back to the Rangers. On one hand I don’t like the Giants’ intimidating beards, or San Francisco’s non-Bible belt behaviors. On the other hand, I don’t want them to adopt our behaviors just to even the playing field. May the best team win, whatever that means.

Me on Derrida on Aristotle and Michelangelo

by Andrea Elizabeth

It’s not just about David in the marble, but also about the chips that fell, that were swept into the landfill, that ended up under a parking lot.

A feminist would put something else of David’s under a parking lot.

I would have taken less of the chips away.

Fig leaf for the cast of Michelangelo’s David, Plaster, Perhaps by the firm of D. Brucciani & Co, About 1857, Museum no 1857-161:A

The story goes that on her first encounter with the cast of David at the Museum, Queen Victoria was so shocked by the nudity that a proportionally accurate fig leaf was commissioned. It was then kept in readiness for any royal visits, when it was hung on the figure using two strategically placed hooks. In a photograph of the Art Museum taken around 1857-9 the figure of David is shown wearing a fig leaf. The fig leaf is likely to have been made by the Anglo-Italian firm D. Brucciani & Co., based in London.

Male nudity was then a contentious issue. A letter sent to the Museum in 1903 by a Mr Dobson complained about the statuary displayed: ‘One can hardly designate these figures as “art” !: if it is, it is a very objectionable form of art.’

In relation to Mr Dobson’s complaint, the then director Caspar Purdon Clarke noted: ‘The antique casts gallery has been very much used by private lady teachers for the instruction of young girl students and none of them has ever complained even indirectly’ (museum papers, 1903).

Tin fig leaves had been used during the early years of the Museum on other nude male statuary, but later authorities at South Kensington were dismissive of objections. Nowadays, the fig leaf is no longer displayed on the David. Instead, it is housed in its own case on the back of the plinth of the figure.

So much for nowadays.


by Andrea Elizabeth

I followed a link from my wordpress stats to this forum and thanks to “find in this page” I located the source. I do not know “dan”, but his post reminds me of a cyberpunk conversation I used to read.

I will comment briefly that there can be a many worlds theory at work and overlapping dimensions/duality principle in working out YOUR salvation in FEAR! and TREMBLING! I note importantly that ye draweth not nigh to church SUNday. Meaning is to some extent limited to capacity, we can see mundane existance’s eschaton is death, perhaps it’s a dead MATTER for most living dead. The question you propose is contrasting gnomic volition with telos, however I don’t have to accept your proposition is a true and accurate appraisal of the status quo regardless of your perspective. It is what it is Bullish, it can be many things and worlds within worlds without end to each and yet a reality in common. I’ll include some links you may enjoy though. http://neuro.sofiatopia.org/brainmind_brain.htm https://bloggingsbetter.wordpress.com/2008/06/12/the-gnostic-view-of-women/ https://bloggingsbetter.wordpress.com/2007/12/10/from-derrida-to-decani/ In response to your INQUISITION, I would ask introspection on the issue of the wise fool, thinking yourself wise that is and moreover an educated brainwahed fool adopting a blindly myoptic perspective recited by rote.

While I’m still talking about style, I’ll say that I like this new way of writing. It is intelligent, artistic and energetic. “Gnostic” warning bells go off, but I wonder if that is more due to the content rather than the style. On to content: the resurrection changes the telos of matter.

The End of the Bulgakov Conference and Beyond

by Andrea Elizabeth

Speaking of finishing things, I’ve finally gotten around to reading the last two installments of the Bulgakov Conference on The Land of Unlikeness. I am not qualified to offer a detailed scholarly analysis, but I would like to jot down some impressions. When I initially read Joshua Delpech-Ramey’s report (see my previous posts under the Sergius Bulgakov Category to the right), I was thinking he was going in the right direction, and without reviewing why I thought that, I’ll go on to say that I think he veered off course in his latest post. I would have agreed more with him a year or two ago. He seems to speak of transcending our personhood into Absolute Divine Simplicity while simultaneously recovering the magic dormant in the created universe. And while my previous impression of Janet Leslie Blumberg was of Augustinian defensiveness, I found her to tweak Joshua’s point a bit to a more personalized, humbly Derridian (whom I am inclined to interpret gently), respect for the amazing cosmos, while maintaining her own personhood in a desire for union with God, but perhaps along a too deterministic path.

So my ignorant, less informed view which is probably based on misinterpretation, is that they are right to open themselves to union with God which will lead to transcending fallen humanity, but their method seems to be alchemistic – seeking to combine physical properties in the right combination to do this. Maybe Janet redeems the goal by saying it should be done by embracing tradition rather than leaving it behind, and I am not sure if she is talking about Credal Christian tradition only, or Sacramental Tradition, which is how we find God in the elements. And maybe her determinism is about uncovering the logos in everything, which is predetermined in Christ, rather than the over-riding of free will.

And as I brought out at the end of my last post on the Conference, I am becoming more sensitive to the off-balanced method of putting the ideas “transcendence”, “Cosmic union”, “latent power” before Person. We are not to throw ourselves into the abyss of ideas expecting an explosion of power and awareness (gnosticism), though perhaps I am neglecting a proper understanding of apophaticism. Instead we are to focus on the Person of Christ, and how He reveals Himself and ourselves to us. I have enjoyed the positive attitude conveyed in works like the above, and think there is merit to it. We are to be joined to love and awareness, but I am beginning to think it will be more concrete than how it came across. I’m thinking a hierarchy of God in Trinitarian relation (which Bulgakov has some valuable things to say about), repentant man, the powers, and material creation will keep us from going off the deep end.

Which brings me to the latest post, Revolution, Paradox, and the Christian Tradition: A Chestertonian debate between John Milbank and Slavoj Zizek, which may make the corrections, or maybe just clarifications, I have begun to intuit. I also value the scholarship in the above posts as I am coming to appreciate reading a wide range of bright people, even if we don’t have the same order of idealogical priorities. I also find their dispassionate and calm relating of atheists’ points very refreshing.

Well, maybe not

by Andrea Elizabeth

I received this question in a comment from my last post that I decided not to approve because of some of the additional ad hominems that were written. But this is probably something I should answer given the controversial nature of Jacques Derrida among some of my fellow Orthodox,

“What is the relation between “Writing and Difference” and orthodox christianity or salvation?”

What I think Derrida has in common with Orthodoxy, as I’ve written in some of my other posts on this subject, is a criticism of the Platonic, and western, way of defining things in terms of opposition, superiority and inferiority as well as his being against marginalizing people or things based on unqualifiable prejudice.

I like some of his language about not judging others, but this is a more slippery slope because of his atheism, rejection of Orthodox revelation, and I’m not sure I understand the “violence” of his methods in deconstruction. These concerns may rightly disqualify him from my further attention, and as I respect those who do not seem to respect him, I think I’ll not jump right back into studying him again, though I do like his oftentimes poetic way of expressing things.

Maybe I’ll read the Philokalia instead.

His All Holiness, Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW

by Andrea Elizabeth

Two well-known blogs both have recent posts about the above mentioned: Orthodixie and The Ochlophobist. I am very interested in these discussions because of recent developments between me and my previous circle of influence before my conversion to the Orthodox faith.

It has been said that the Church is in martyr mode since the rest of the world is pretty hostile to our beliefs, be they Muslim, Catholic, Protestant or Atheist. I’m sure that these groups think we are hostile to theirs. Probably, but I think ours is more of a defensive posture. The Orthodox I feel the most kindred to take a hard, protective line against compromise and for necessary conversion. But I guess I also want people to get along, I appreciate qualities in other people, and I want to know where the boundaries are as far as engaging them.

I have no problem with the Church’s stand against open Communion, but it’s hard to know how to talk about God to people of other faiths. Some Orthodox go so far as to say it’s not the same God, and others say He is, but that the understanding isn’t complete enough (I tend to fit in here), and I guess some people don’t have any problem with differing understandings in their relations with non-Orthodox. I found this when trying to recall what I’d heard about St. John Maximovich receiving all (I guess in private dealings), no matter what their faith.

Nevertheless, the Orthodox Church does not forbid prayer for those who are outside communion with Her. By the prayers of the holy, righteous John of Kronstadt and the blessed Archbishop John (Maximovich), both Catholics and Protestants, Jews and Muslims, and even pagans received healing. But, in acting in accordance with their faith and request, these and our other righteous ones taught them at the same time that the saving Truth is only in Orthodoxy. Source