In the Beginning was the Word... or the Deed. Your Call.
How so? Well, for starters, "Making gods by killing victims is the human gesture par excellence..." (Girard, in Bailie).
It's what humans do. Does anyone else do it? If we discovered intelligent life on another planet, would we find that they too engaged in the practice?
"The killing of victims produced the false gods of pagan antiquity, but in killing these victims our ancestors took part in the murder of the true God" (Bailie).
I was just thinking of how Finnegans Wake -- the Book of Everything -- has the recurrent motif of human sacrifice.
Bishop writes that "consciousness of death and consciousness as a totality cannot be disentangled: one is the condition of the other." And "The further out of consciousness one keeps one's own shady account of the wake, the more bearable life in its middle may be."
Death -- although it is "nothing" -- has a kind of real power over the living. What to do about it?
Of the gods of antiquity, Bailie notes that they "were for the most part dreaded figures that had to be kept from visiting their worshipers with scourges by ritual offerings of blood, which reenacted the darkly veiled event that gave rise to both the gods and the worshipping community in the first instance." Thus, "archaic religion was both the absolute antithesis of Christian salvation and a crude groping toward it."
Death and sin are entirely bound up together. This is clearly conveyed in Genesis, in which death follows directly on the heels of sin, i.e., separation from God. Man qua man cannot be unaware of sin; it is only a matter of what he does with the awareness: deny it? Repress it? Project it?
Yes, that's the ticket -- project it!: "In myth, the victim is 'guilty' -- that is, the victim's death is justified -- and the victimizing community is exonerated."
Conversely, "In the Gospel... the victim is innocent and the community culpably oblivious -- 'they know not what they do.'" This recognition of the scapegoat mechanism "represents the single-most historically significant anthropological breakthrough in human history."
Indeed, it has been so successful that we have a hard time entering a state of mind in which victims are contemptible and unworthy of our sympathy. Today we recoil at the idea of slavery, but slavery was once universal. It provoked no moral qualms whatsoever.
Again, SJWs have veered so far in the opposite direction that victims have become their divinity. To claim victimhood is not only to be above moral reproach, but to authorize a violent reprisal. Think of Black Lives Matter, which provokes the murder of innocent police officers based upon the lie that blacks are victims of police.
So BLM is really a lie that obfuscates sacrificial murder. But this is nothing new; indeed, nothing is older. For Girard, "the beginning of human culture must have been a murder concealed by a lie." For which reason Jesus calls the devil "a murderer, a liar, and the father of lies, 'from the beginning.'"
Does this all seem a little reductive? That's something I struggle with. It almost seems too simple, and yet, it accounts for some mighty strange data, i.e., the ubiquity of scapegoating and sacrifice.
I look at the phenomena through a slightly wider-angle lens. That is, the transition from animal to man -- from instinct to freedom, from unself-conscious to self-awareness, from merger with the environment to detachment from it -- must have been a catastrophe of the first order.
Indeed, not only is it by definition the first catastrophe, it is the most catastrophic thing that could ever happen. The magnitude of this break -- which Genesis tries to convey -- is literally beyond conception.
And, like the Big Bang, this primordial he & shebang is still going on. We all repeat the primordial event through the individuation process, and we all must find a way to "adapt to mindedness," so to speak.
Or to paraphrase Bion, there is the thinker and there are thoughts. How does the former manage the latter? What do we do with these thoughts? Yes, "think them" would be a good idea. But there are a multitude of alternatives to thinking painful thoughts, including thoughts of death.
Consider just our Islamist adversaries. What is going on with their thoughts? Why, instead of thinking them, do they insist on acting them out on innocent victims?
So it's hardly as if the sacrificial mechanism has disappeared. Islamists want to sacrifice innocent victims in order to redeem their own guilty selves, while leftists seek redemption by elevating "victims" such as Black Lives Matter to engage in the sacrificing. However, I'm not so sure they know not what they do. Or at least they have no excuse for not knowing, having presumably been exposed to the good news.