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6. Is there an Event in Hegel? Malabou, Plasticity, and “Perhaps”

John D. Caputo Indiana University Press ePub

 

Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

                                                 —LUKE 17:37

Let there be no mistake. I am following Hegel where he did not quite mean to lead, marching to a drum he did not quite beat, taking up a cause he did not quite advocate. I am proposing, as Heidegger would have said, to “repeat” Hegel, to repeat not what Hegel actually said, which has already been said by Hegel, but to repeat the possible in Hegel, remaining loyal to the possibilities Hegel opened up for us by being faithfully disloyal to Hegel. To repeat Hegel in a productive way is, of course, to repeat Hegel's own prodigious ability to repeat his predecessors, above all Aristotle.1 I am feeling about in the dark for the “perhaps” in Hegel, and for the first sightings of a coming species of theologians, seeking thus the future of Hegel, the future in Hegel, to borrow the suggestive title and thematic of Catherine Malabou's book on Hegel, which I will examine below.

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7. Metanoetics: The Seventh Day, or Making All Things New

John D. Caputo Indiana University Press ePub

Abba of ours in heaven,
let your name be hallowed,
let your rule come,
let your will be brought about,

We might, as a kind of artistic ruse or authorial conceit, think of Part One of this book as having devoted its time to the first week of creation, while Part Two turns its attention to our everyday life in the world God made, to the “eventiveness” of all the days that follow after that very eventful and famous first week. We might also think that while the first half commented on the book of Genesis, the second part is dedicated to a kind of commentary on the Lord’s Prayer, which is a venerable theological tradition to which I will make a peculiarly deconstructive contribution. To carry this conceit to an extreme, the “Interlude” may be seen as a commentary on the “Angelus” (the impossible) and the “Magnificat” (hyper-realism). To be sure, my contributions are of such irregular and modest proportions that they may very well be returned to me in the mail by the authorities, who might on the whole think themselves better served without them, a judgment for which I cannot entirely fault them.

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3. The Beautiful Risk of Creation: On Genesis ad literam (Almost)

John D. Caputo Indiana University Press ePub

Twenty-six attempts preceded the present genesis,
all of which were destined to fail.
The world of man has arisen out of the chaotic heart
of the preceding debris; he too is exposed
to the risk of failure, and the return to nothing.
‘Let us hope it works’ (Halway Sheyaamod)
exclaimed God as he created the world,
and this hope, which has accompanied the subsequent history
of the world and mankind, has emphasized
right from the outset that this history is
branded with the mark of radical uncertainty. (Talmud)1

With the mention of the majestic words of Elohim presiding over creation in the opening verse of Genesis, I raise a touchy subject. For truth to tell, while all this talk about a sacred anarchy or the “weak force of God” may have an appeal to a select few party radicals, it is not a proposal likely to win mainstream votes in a general election. So I cannot proceed without first dealing with a problem that threatens to inundate me before my campaign is barely started. For one of the most powerful images in Western literature, one of the most archical ideas in the cultures of the great monotheisms, one of the most memorable verses in world literature for anyone who can read, or who can look up at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, undoubtedly the greatest show of sheer force in the history of everything, the most hierarchical, patriarchal exercise of pure omnipotence ever thought up, in comparison with which everything else, biblical miracles included, is small potatoes indeed, is surely the majestic opening verses of Genesis: “In the beginning (en arche), God created heaven and earth.”

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2. The Insistence of God

John D. Caputo Indiana University Press ePub

 

 

 

 

As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying,
“If you, even you, had only recognized on this day
the things that make for peace!
But now they are hidden from your eyes.”

                                                              —LUKE 19:41

Allow me to put my cards on the table right at the outset. My criterion of truth is how well we have learned to deal with the fear of one small word, “perhaps.” That, I would say, is a general problem for us all. No one gets a pass. But in this book I am singling out theology and calling for a new species of theologians, theologians of the future. That means I measure theology by the extent to which it avoids the pitfalls of a too-comforting piety—of pious prayers and pious theology portrayed on gilded postcards. I avoid piety like sin itself. I confess up front to having had a long-standing love/hate relationship with religion and theology, which is why the measure of religion for me is that it be without religion. About religion simpliciter I worry about what Lacan says in a precious little book called Le Triomphe de la Religion. Religion is out to soothe hearts (d'apaiser les coeurs), to pacify and appease, and, no matter how grim the forecast, how bad the news, religion will come up with something—“It's absolutely fabulous.” Religion can give sense to anything, “juicy sense” (sens truculents), no matter what. That is what the priests are trained to do.1

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8. The Insistence of the World: From Chiasm to Cosmos

John D. Caputo Indiana University Press ePub

 

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?

                                                                 —JOB 38:4

We promised at the start to honor the animals of Jesus, and now we must make good on that promise, this time by honoring the animal that Jesus is, the animal that I am following (je suis),1 whose animal needs were recognized by Martha. Indeed it is time to honor the history of the animals that we all are and are following, which I have emblematically called Martha's world, the world to which we all belong in the most deeply material sense. Yet, despite our pledge to follow the animals of Jesus, we have in truth been focused almost exclusively on human beings and God, on the chiasmic intertwining of God's insistence and the need God has for human existence to fill up what is lacking in the body of God. So the time has come to shed the anthropocentrism and humanism of the first two parts of this study. Now we must ask, what about everything else? Does God need anything else? Does anything else need God? More unnervingly still, does insistence have a wider reach than the name (of) “God”? What about non-human animals and non-living things? What about Nietzsche weeping over that horse? What about the stars and the distant origins of the universe? Is not the “little town” of Bethany in the story to be found on planet Earth? Does it not have a planetary and ultimately a cosmic setting and is its fate not bound up with the fate of the planet and the solar system? Does not any possible theopoetics have a wider cosmic context?

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