Flipping over Passover

Sunday, 12 April 2009

You know what we don’t talk about enough? History as told by the loser.

Passover also is a celebration of the murder of something like 25,000 Egyptian children.

I hear tell that to this day if you paint your doors—or, you know, your extra territorial streets—with enough innocent blood, the Angel of Death calls it good.

Innocent blood, yay, we’re saved!

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Re: Flipping over Passover

This happened to make me think of Rene Girard's few books. To relate why, this is the shortest useful quote, one I found just now from http://www.jamesalison.co.uk/texts/eng05.html
...Catholic theologian but what can you do? There's some selection bias in who hears of Franco-American anthropologists at any point, let alone says something much afterward.

What he is able to show (exhaustively) is the relationship between distorted human desire and the foundational mechanism of what he calls surrogate victimage, more popularly called “The Scapegoat Mechanism”. That is to say, human desire, as we live it (and thus the formation from within of our ‘self’ and consciousness) derives, as a cultural fact, from desire becoming distorted by rivalry, until there is a point where there is so much group violence that unanimity (and thus peace and the avoidance of the collapse of the group) can only be restored when, apparently mysteriously, all become fixated on something who can be held responsible for the collapse of unity and order within the group and then expelled, permitting the establishment of a new social unity over against the expelled one. That is to say, an act of collective fratricide and corporate pride against a victim is foundational to all human cultures, with its being absolutely vital for the cultures so founded that they believe in the culpability of the rejected one (or group), and continue to bolster up this belief by forging prohibitions, myths and rituals.

So foundational that myths are all centered on miracles, violent divine transformations - with pity for the downtrodden being an entirely alien notion - in stead of any supposition about how they themselves had experienced such harmony and how that elementary transcendent resolution could have been experienced. And enough that we should accuse everything from friendships to cliques to concrete institutions to abstract ones, spiritual ideologies - any thought of the supernatural in the first place, but no less the natural - of being attempts to get to take our quest of one kind and find (invent, whether through intuition or induction) a supple way to _take it out on something_.

Professor Girard had assumed that the Jewish and Christian sacred texts would show exactly the same thing as all other ancient texts and myths – the threat of collapsing social unity leading to violence and the emergence of a new peace around the cadaver of the victim. To his amazement he found that although they did exactly that – they really are structured around sacralised violence – there was a unique and astonishing difference: the Jewish texts, starting with Cain and Abel – gradually dissociate the divinity from participation in the violence until, in the new testament, this God is entirely set free from participation in our violence – the victim is entirely innocent, and hated without cause – and indeed this God is revealed not as the one who expels us, but the one whom we expel, and who offered to be expelled so as to make of his expulsion a revelation [of what injustice and self-satisfied sufficiency are really like,] of what he is really like, and of what we really, typically do to each other, so that we can begin to live beyond this.

By neil on 14 April 2009 · 21:44

A is A

Re^2: Flipping over Passover

That is extremely interesting reading. Thank you for pointing me at it.

Update: Oddly enough I almost posted William Holman Hunt’s The Scapegoat instead.

The Scapegoat

By A is A on 14 April 2009 · 22:45