Thursday, December 26, 2013

Enlightened Anarchism

First, in the unstable construction of the Christian relation to Judaism and to society, Paul risks collapsing the interpretaive circle that he constructs between Jesus Christ and the Judaic tradition and inscribing Christian practice excessively within the latter - not least, he tends toward what are arguably conservative positions on a range of issues such as the place of women within the community and apparently of the Christian within the world. (This collapse might equally occur in the other direction - something, which in fact, took place within the evolution of early Christianity, with 'heretical' interpretations of the novelty of Christ frequently asserting themselves over the Jewish and subsequently-established orthodox framework of Christian interpretation. In either case, the inherent instability of the hermeneutic circle is at issue.) Second, and more problematically in appealing to an extended form of apostolic authority, to resolve the tensions in his hermeneutic strategy, Paul acts as Antigone does (according to Zizek's reading in "On Belief"). (Zizek 2001b: 158 n.24) That is, he acts apparently without recourse to the support of a Symbolic order, while in fact appealing to a truer, hidden/as-yet-unrealized order. He assumes the existence of a Divine Order, or ordering, against which instantiations of would-be messianic negations can be judged. If he allows that Christian community might take different forms, he nonetheless supposes that there is at least a dynamic ordering to which such forms conform. And if his authority is circumscribed and his knowledge limited, he suggest that his position as apostle offers the best guide to that order. As such, where messianism inaugurates a time in which order is ruptured, Paul's appeal tends to circumscribe and recuperate that negation of order for the sake of the emergence of another order, rather than opening upon the undetermined spaces of determinate negation. Hence, where recent political readers have tended to take his messianism to be in opposition to any 'order' of politics, Paul, in fact, tends to resolve the tensions within his messianic conception of act by inscribing the former within the latter. Hence if Paul situates his act as the first moment of a three-fold reflexivity of act, he tends to do so in a manner at some distance from Kristof. Problematically, for a contemporary politics of the kind pursued by Zizek, he appeals to an order-restoring theological authority to stabilize his interpretative strategy.
- John McSweeney, "The Cold Cruelty of Ethics: Zizek, Kristof and Reflexive Subjectivation"

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