Wednesday, April 15, 2015

God Is Dead, and So Is This Sentence

This next chapter in Schindler is called On the Meaning of the Death of God in the Academy, and it's a corker. He starts with the godlessfather of deconstruction, Derrida, who "criticizes Western thought in terms of what he calls its 'logocentrism,'" -- but, get this, uses words to do so. Doesn't that automatically call his method into question, i.e., using language to undermine the very basis of language?

No, not if the real point is destruction. It's like the Islamists who want 21st century military technology to bring us back to the 7th century, or progressives who want to limit our freedom in order to free us from freedom.

The joyously preposterous logocentrism of Raccoon tradition "presupposes that meaning is present to us, at least in principle." In premodern times this was consciously identified with the Christian logos and ultimately with the second person of the Trinity.

However, "with the secularization of the post-Enlightenment West, this link has been severed, but logocentrism nonetheless persists." In other words, some people haven't yet gotten the memo that God is dead, and don't realize that any possibility of meaning went out the door with him: "Simply stated, meaning and intelligibility presuppose God."

The eternal Logos pervades the universe -- it is immanent -- but is also the "transcendental signified," the "convergent object of reference to which all signs are somehow directed." Thanks to Logos Central, all truth speaks of, and is derived from, the One Truth -- or, in the words of de Lubac, All knowers know God implicitly in all that they know, whether they know it or not.

Derrida obviously knew what was at (the) stake here, so give him credit for that. For ultimately, "The sign and divinity have the same place and time of birth" (in Schindler). It's just that there is no divinity, so the sign is barren, the crib (and even womb) is empty, and meaning has no descendents. There is nothing for the sign to point to except other signs, so the system is as inbred as the Royal Family.

However, even if this were true, it wouldn't solve the "problem" of meaning, and make it go away. In the past we have discussed how fractal geometry proves that a coastline -- say, the coastline around Hawaii, or Great Britain -- is actually "infinite," like a real-life Zeno's paradox. I suppose that the closest and most accurate measurement will reach all the way into the infinite nothing of dark matter or something. In other words, you fall out of the cosmos from the bottom end.

The point is that language is actually open at both ends. You can't just close off the top -- transcendence -- and pretend you're done with it. This, I think, explains the insane fertility of language, which was one of Joyce's main points in Finnegans Wake.

There are references to this throughout the text. I could spend the rest of the morning playing this game, but let's just say that When a part so ptee does duty for the holos we soon grow to use of an allforabit. That's been my credo for some 30 years, and it hasn't failed me yet.

So, "the age of the sign is essentially theological" (Derrida). But we are beyond the theological age, so "No longer do we naively appeal to a Divine Logos which undergirds the intelligibility in and of things and their linguistic expression" (Schindler).

Now, when Schindler says "we," he obviously means the tenured, for whom this is no doubt true despite the fact that truth is no longer possible for them. Whatever. Fuck you pay me.

Thus, "Derrida represents the return of [Nietzsche's] madman, insisting that the requisite time has now passed: it is time now for the death of God to be seen and heard in its full implications. Intelligibility -- identifiable meaning -- does not, and cannot, outlive God. Rather, following the death of God, we stray 'as through an infinite nothing'" (ibid.).

Have you gnosissed how the Fall can take so many diverse forms? For in the deconstructed world, "theos has been replaced by anthropos" (ibid.), which is just a fancy way of ssssaying Ye shall be as gods! It doesn't matter what you believe, so long as it amounts to nothing.

Note also how the Word, instead of becoming flesh -- and vice versa -- is displaced by the flesh. Well played, Beelzebub, well payed too.

Therefore you're a meaningless god, or a god without meaning, but hey, nobody's perfect. Plus you are in competition with a horde of similarly atomized and meaningless godlings, but seize enough power and you can control or vanquish them.

Knowledge itself is broken up into smaller and smaller parts, which reminds me of how the psychotic person is haunted by a persecutory world of projected psychic bits with no hope of synthesis and unity. Postmodernism is institutionalized psychosis, or cosmic lunacy. Not only is it a flight from transcendence, but a violent repression of it, which is how someone once defined fascism (violent opposition to transcendence, or something like that).

If you have followed the argument this far, you could say that, deep down, liberalism is not only shallow, but non-existent. It is the metaphysics of nothing, or applied nihilism. Which is why a Harry Reid, or Hillary Clinton, or Dick Durbin, are the way they are (and aren't).


Magister said...

Speaking of deconstruction, Daniel Greenfield has a nice little piece on the deconstruction of marriage:

Yep, that's about it in a nutshell.

Magister said...

OT Van

Thanks for the link to Descartes.

By the way, I've always thought Descartes' famous syllogism was logically specious. "Cogito, ergo sum" begs the question, doesn't it?

Bob, Derrida & Co. go on of course to say that meaning does exist, all the time, but only as a function of *power,* not because of any intrinsic relationship between signifier and signified.

That is why they worship force.

In the end, Derrida asked religious questions, though I haven't bothered to look into them.

Van Harvey said...

"If you have followed the argument this far, you could say that, deep down, liberalism is not only shallow, but non-existent. It is the metaphysics of nothing, or applied nihilism. Which is why a Harry Reid, or Hillary Clinton, or Dick Durbin, are the way they are (and aren't)."

Applied nihilism, I like that. Yep.

Van Harvey said...

Magister, you're welcome. And yep on this, ".."Cogito, ergo sum" begs the question, doesn't it?", and more than that, it (speaking Harry Potter-ly) acts as a Portkey - touch it, and you're instantly transported to the land of the Arbitrary, where every direction you go in, takes you downnnn.

Gagdad Bob said...

Van -- yesterday I was glancing through an anti-Israel diatribe of a book by some postmodern intellectual who couldn't stop talking about POWER in the manner you describe. But they never deconstruct the so-called victims of POWER in the same way. Rather, it's Deconstruction for Israelis, cash and weapons for Palestinians.

Gagdad Bob said...

This is probably what motivates Obama's nuclearization of Iran. He is a true (anti)believer.

Van Harvey said...

When we eliminate Truth as that which we orient ourselves by, whether deliberately, or incidentally by our chosen methods, Force is all that remains. Even 2+2=4 ceases to be true, and is transformed into a useful result which you gain more power through using.

Consequently, the attempt to introduce Truth, is a challenge to the entire worldview you've forced your life into... even saying "2+2=4 is only useful because it's True", is an atomic strike upon a life oriented by applied nihilism.

Just imagine the numbers of strikes they feel from something more than a simple equation?


Their heads go Boom!

Magister said...

We know that learning best takes place in peace. When emotions roil, it's difficult to focus, let alone learn, or build up. This is why revolutionaries keep firing, even if their bullets are fake. And this is why, in a cultural streetfight, it's best to give as good as you get.

julie said...

Magister, thanks for the Greenfield link. Very apropos.

Studying Deuteronomy 28 this week, I can't help but think of the curses God warned would happen when the people turned away from him and started whoring around with false idols, etc. I know a lot of Christians worry about the end of days coming; I don't know anything about that, but it seems pretty clear that what's happening here and now is the same thing that always happens when people decide that God isn't all that, and they can do better.

Having rejected meaning, madness rules. The only way to turn it around is for people to seek out meaning once more.

Magister said...

Right, you have to go straight to the source.

This is Schindler's devastating point against Hesburgh: you can't adopt some secular design, try to add some religious things to it, and then call the whole shebang "religious." It isn't. It's what the Frenchies call "bricolage."

Schindler is right: what distinguishes a Catholic university from its secular rival is not its Catholic trappings, but "sanctified intelligence," which goes immeasurably deeper. Or, to continue Bob's melody, it stems from the fundamental Relation that, by establishing the reality of all relations, makes intelligibility possible.

Van Harvey said...

Yes, Greenfield nails it. This from it,

"The final deconstruction eliminates nation, religion, family and even gender to reduce the soul of man to a blank slate waiting to be written on."

That last is the ultimate goal, the ultimate power to remake the Cosmos in their own image. The fact that they'll hate that too is if no concern, they'll just think on that tomorrow.

Magister said...

Van, they have thought (if you can call it that) right up to the edge. Jean-Luc Nancy's book, La Communauté désœuvrée, is yet another effluence of French anarchism. He and others wax on at length about what they *don't* want. But they're loath to say what they *do* want, for fear of oppressing someone else in the process. Sounds familiar, doesn't it.

Gagdad Bob said...

I was just reading how an-archy literally means no-principles. These deconstructionists apparently believe that principles are just pretexts to enclose and dominate. Some no doubt are, but only the false ones.

Moses said...

They sacrificed to demons, to "no-gods," to gods they had never known,
Newcomers from afar, before whom your ancestors had never trembled.

You were unmindful of the Rock that begat you,
you forgot the God who gave you birth.


Since they have incited me with a "no-god," and provoked me with their empty idols,
I will incite them with a "no-people"; with a foolish nation I will provoke them.

(Deuteronomy 32:17-18, 21)

Van Harvey said...

... It seems as if the more things change, the more God has to say the same damn thing, over and over again.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

"The eternal Logos pervades the universe -- it is immanent -- but is also the "transcendental signified," the "convergent object of reference to which all signs are somehow directed." Thanks to Logos Central, all truth speaks of, and is derived from, the One Truth -- or, in the words of de Lubac, All knowers know God implicitly in all that they know, whether they know it or not.."

Indeed, without the eternal Logos there is no meaningfull meaning, no purposefull purpose and no destiny to fullfill.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

It's no surprise, but the SPLC considers Dan Greenfield a hate group.

How dare he speak the truth.
Of course, one would be hardpressed to find a more hateful, diabolical group than the SPLC.

Magister said...

Pope Francis spoke about man and woman yesterday:

Proglodytes everywhere will scratch their heads.

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, that ought to be sufficient to bring their hate to the surface.

However, I still have big problems with the guy. The global warming encyclical is a much bigger scientific blunder than the Galileo affair. I'm glad he foresees a brief reign, and I hope the next pope is in the JP-Ratzinger mold.

julie said...

Yeah. I want to like the guy, and this is a good statement, but part of me wonders what he'll say next week that will undermine what he just said, or possibly make things worse.

Joan of Argghh! said...

Can Raccoons behave themselves in the Rabbit Room? Because, oh!

"Switching to the realms of linguistics and literature, we can find a similar tendency in Derrida and other post-structuralists. Post-structuralism suggests that “there are many truths, that frameworks must bleed, and that structures must become unstable or decentered” (Owl Purdue). In other words, let’s dig down into the skeletal forms that hold our society together and rattle their bones. Particularly, let’s do this whenever power is involved. It is an assumption of post-structuralism that hegemonies are actively working to maintain control, so we must find out where strength is rooted in a culture and uncover how authority is being maintained."

julie said...

Thanks for that link, Joan. I haven't seen the new Cinderella yet, as the kits are just too small and squirrely, but plan to get it on video when it comes out.

Van Harvey said...

Joan, thanks for the Rabbit Room review of Cinderella. I took my daughter to see it tonight and we both really enjoyed it, it was all that she said it was.