“Glorious and immaculate virgin. Joseph, her spouse. Peter and Paul. More interesting if you understood what it was all about,” Leopold Bloom is thinking in chapter 5 of Ulysses, Lotus Eaters. The context: he walks into a catholic church service, and reflects upon theology while the other people there celebrates communion. He mentions the apostle Paul. This was a man who knew something of what it was all about. In 1 Corinthians 15,9 he says: “For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” In Ephesians 3,8-9 he continues his reflections upon God and himself: “Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.” And finally, in 1 Timothy 1,15: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” Not even an apostle, less than the least of Lord’s people, the worst sinner. That’s a testimony of the pains of being pure at heart through Jesus.
The music video for Beck’s song Heart Is A Drum opens with a sketchy image of a person on a road. We then see the singer by a house, he seem to be both on the inside and outside, looking in the window from the garden and looking out the window from the other side. This reminds me of Margitte’s painting In Praise of Dialectics which is meant to show that the inside of a house is always connected with the outside, like with anything else: philosophy, concepts, literature and so on.
After this the video depicts various and shifting images: a boy on a road, Beck and a man walking next to him, the shadow of Beck on a wall, the boy from the road by the house (also both inside and outside, when on the inside flipping a curtain up and down on the window), at this point the lyrics of the song has come to the lines about time: “Your Heart is a drum keeping time with everyone”. The line right before also has connotations to the concept of time: “You’ve lost your tongue when you fall from the pendulum”. We also find hints to this in the video: a silhouette of something that looks like a clock, one of these old tall ones, standing on the floor. And then Beck leaves the house, he’s spotted some strange creatures dressed up like in clothes and helmets looking like a crossing of astronauts and beekeepers.
I took the title for this post from a book entitled Romanticism Against The Tide of Modernity. There Michael Löwy and Robert Sayre writes about the romantic tradition in literature, art, protest movements and so on, claiming it’s not limited to a style of writing or painting, but a way of thought. Following the line of Marx they claim that romanticism always since the rise of capitalism has been here as it’s shadow, a criticism and force against it’s domination on modern life. Romanticism claims that something has been lost, but exactly what? Löwy and Sayre asks, and answers also: We have to look at it’s values to circle in that. These values are among other things community and the individual value of each human being (but not like capitalistic individualism which tells everyone that they can be superstars and by that gives broadcasting companies and advertisers lots of money on talent shows and things like that). In a podcast I just listened to Beck talks about the value of old folk songs and the way of thinking about music in the folk scene. He highlights the camaraderie among musicians and underlining it’s importance in creating new music. He talks about Record Club and Newport. All this are factors that places him in the romantic tradition I sketched up over here.
Now, lets go back to the video: Beck has left the house and enters a small cabin. We then see a glimpse of a light haired woman waking up (“High as the light of day” he sings now). Inside the cabin there are collages of pictures on the walls, Beck walks over to an image of a woman and her baby dressed up in the style of Virgin Mary and baby Jesus. He touches it softly.
The scene shifts to a priest looking man holding the light haired woman in his arms while wind blows through their hairs and clothes. (“Falling down across your lost highway” Beck sings now, with reference to Hank Williams old song). Back to Beck and his image on the wall, still touching it softly, lifting his head to the left. Outside on a field the man with the scythe appears, and the woman falls to the ground. After this Beck walks off again, we can see images of him crossed with scenes with the creatures I’ve mentioned: the priest, the woman, the man with the scythe. A new person has arrived: a little girl holding flowers. She stands next to the priest while the man with the scythe comes towards them (he has been pointing his fingers straight into the viewer a couple of times now, while Beck has been walking fast straight ahead, making it seem like his pointing at him, or at me who looks at the video. The woman appears in the same camera shot as Beck, and now the beekeepers appears. Now and then we see shadows on walls, glimpses of Beck’s face looking like these ads of phantom rising that has been circulating on the internet lately. He’s always searching, walking through houses and forests, trying to see what we can’t see: angel like creatures, death, places which is outside of time.
In Edmund Husserl’s Origin of Geometry: An Introduction, Derrida examinates Husserl’s philosophy on science. He begins with a walkthrough to Husserl’s views on geometry and historicity, and Derrida doesn’t seem to have any problems with his conclusions:
“Pure-interconnections-of history, apriori-thought-of history, does this not mean that these possibilities are not in themselves historical ? Not at an , for they are nothing but the possibilities of the appearance of history as such, outside which there is nothing. History itself establishes the possibility of its own appearing.”
“The paradox is that, without the apparent fall back into language and thereby into history , a fall which would alienate the ideal purity of sense , sense wou ld re main an empirical formation imprisoned as fact in a psychological subjectivity-in the inventor’ s head. Historical incarnation sets free the transcendental, instead of binding it.”
The word became a man, the Bible says. The word of truth. Merry Christmas!
In an article about the norwegian pro-Palestina-covering of Israels security fence and wall, Erlend Sundar writes about how the media strategically not mentions the stats of terrorists in Israel after the wall was build. He criticizes the norwegian broadcast company (NRK) and an article with the title Would They Have Reached Betlehem Today. It deals with the fact that Josef and Mary’s route between Nazareth and Betlehem in present Israel is difficault, if not inpossible to walk due to the barriers with restrictions, soldiers and the wall. Sundar calls the text propaganda, but the question about how civils are treated in todays Israel can not be undermined. The writer falls for his own trap while not mentioning civil palestinians while accusing NRK for hiding facts about terror in the same area. There are two sides of a wall, and we have to fight for not being just bricks in it.
»Show me the place where the Word became a man«
On Tablet Magazine’s facebook-page there’s been some discussion after the publishing of the article Teaching My Son About Judaism – and Atheism. I note that the author is proud over her son’s development from what she calls »obsession with Jesus« to atheism. The article ends with her son stating that he doesn’t believe in anything because he has asked his jewish teacher how one could know for sure that the Red Sea parted. The teacher replied to him that one doesn’t need evidence, only faith. The little boy than said »I need evidence«.
Some of the comments on Facebook claims that one can not both be jewish and atheist, other says the same about judaism and belief in Jesus. I don’t have time to dive into every aspect of this, I just quote my comment here, adding that science also requires belief, not in a religious understanding of the Word – »the Word became a man« – but in the sense that one must have trust in the people who researches for evidence, and what is that if not a religious understanding of the word (without capital letter):
»Erich Auerbach proved that christianity and judaism was linked together in the mimetic writing style unique for the time, the stories in the Torah can be read both literal and as parables of the stories in the gospel. Before the law stands a gatekeeper (Kafka), but the gatekeeper didn’t make the law. The word became a man, but man did not become the word«
Source for Tablet article: http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-and-religion/171223/teaching-son-judaism-and-atheism/2
(Source for linked page: Hacohen, M.H. Typology and the Holocaust: Erich Auerbach and Judeo-Christian Europe. Religions 2012, 3, 600-645.)