Yahweh and nihilism. Nothing like a nice flood or some other event to wipe the slate clean and make a fresh start. Turning the mattress over. Putting the world through the deep scrub dishwasher cycle.Clearly, Harold Bloom and his Yahweh meets nihilism makes one size fits all gnosticism is a kind of exotic interpretation; kicking the Platonic, normative comprehension of the Almighty as benevolent and merciful down the road and into the scrap heap of pious observance that in sum, promised more than it delivered, at least according to the learned professor of Yale who with almost anarchic glee dismembers the foundation of Western civilization with his Yahweh indifferent between the sacred and profane and the righteous and the ….
HB: Oh sure. Oh sure, I mean Yeshua, if he was crucified, was one of hundreds of thousands of Jews who were being crucified by the Romans in those days. And the biggest single holocaust of Jews took place after Rabbi Akiba proclaimed Simon bar Kosba, Simon bar Kochba or son of the star and said he was the Messiah, ben Joseph, that is to say, not the Messiah ben David but the Messiah ben Joseph, the warrior who comes first. And that led all of the Jews in the world into a terrific rebellion against Hadrian, and millions of Jews were eventually slaughtered and Akiba tortured to death at the age of 95; Bar Kochba went down heroically, taking legions of Romans with him. At one point in the book I have a sentence that Jeanne, my wife, reading it, said “Harold, it shouldn’t be there; it will get you into trouble.” But I’m glad it’s there, because you know the great phrase about Yahweh in the Psalms and elsewhere is that Yahweh is a man of war, and I think his most memorable single appearance, and I talk about it, in the Bible, in Tanakh, is in the Book of Joshua, where at one point Joshua—you know it is after the death of Moses and Joshua is in command of the Israelites and they conquered Canaan, and before a crucial battle near Jericho he notices an armed warrior. He doesn’t recognize him, and he boldly goes up to him, and he says, “Are you one of us or one of them.” And the fellow replies, “The ground upon which you stand is holy. Take off your sandals.”…
…At which Joshua takes off his sandals and abases himself because he recognizes that it is Yahweh a man of war come to fight in the battle of Jericho, which he does, as he also fights, you know, with the tribes that came to the battle in the first Hebrew poem that we have, the song of Deborah and Barak in Judges 5. So I have this sentence in the book: “If Yahweh is a man of war, then Allah is a suicide bomber.” I think they are all bad news, Judaism and Christianity and Islam. But I wanted to make clear in the book that there is no such thing as a Judeo-Christian tradition. That is absolutely ridiculous. And fascinatingly enough there are two things that I’ve said throughout my life when I’ve addressed Jewish audiences, say at the Jewish Theological Seminary or such places, and they always get furious at me. But they’re both true. One is that nowhere in the whole of the Tanakh does it say that a whole people can make themselves holy through study of texts. That’s a purely Platonic idea, and comes out of Plato’s Laws. That simply shows how thoroughly Platonized the rabbis of the second century were. The other one, which I say in this book and it has already given some offense, is that in fact not only is Judaism, which is a product of the second century of the common era—and it’s worked out by people like you know Akiba and his friends and opponents like Ishmael and Tarphon and the others, is a younger religion than Christianity is. Christianity in some form exists in the first century of the common era. What we now call Judaism comes along in the second century of the common era. Christianity is actually the older religion, though it infuriates Jews when you say that to them.
…LQ: I wanted to go back to your comment . . .
HB: I think my book is good clean fun.
LQ: Well I thoroughly enjoyed it. I wanted to go back to yourent. . .
HB: But I don’t think it’s irreverent.
Gnosticism then is the reduction to nothingness.Everything in the material world is an illusion, without meaning or value . Its a radical or extreme egalitarianism whose mantra of “free love” can easily slide down the greasy slope of nihilism, racism, euthanasia and the rest of the cult of population elimination.An alchemy. The seeking to abolish inequalities and distinction is nihilism; an idealization of denial and destruction, who in the case of Bloom, a heavyweight scholar in the Romantic canon, would place him in the service of the most conservative capitalist ideology that would have more in common with Marcel Duchamp art than say DaVinci.
HB: Because I think the category—you know any time you want to say that some text is more sacred than another then you’ve made a political statement, and I don’t like political statements. It is utterly insane that by vote of the United States Congress, the Church of Scientology has a tax exempt status. That means that Dianetics, by L. Ron Hubbard, which I challenge anybody to try to read, is a sacred text, by vote of Congress. And of course what it is is very ninth rate science fiction. Though it now has distinguished believers like, I believe, Tom Cruise and—isn’t John Travolta also a Scientologist? Read More:http://www.rc.umd.edu/praxis/bloom_hartman/bloom/bloom.html
The Gnostic goal of this cosmic drama is purification – i.e. distilling Good from Evil, Light from Darkness, God from Demon, Spirit from Matter. And so, Baudrillard argues that we would love to “expunge man from the world in order to see it in its original purity”. “In a word, we dream of our disappearance and of seeing the world in its inhuman purity (which is precisely not the state of nature)”. To reach that goal, Baudrillard seeks pure appearance or “the ephemeral moment in which things take the time to appear before taking on meaning or value”. This emerges from “the game of appearances”, with Baudrillard insisting that “the game has its rule and its possibly rigorous ritual”. One such ritual is terrorism, he argues, because it “opposes to every event said to be real the purest form of the spectacular”.21 “There has to be extermination”, Baudrillard insists, if we wish to reach “the level of pure appearance” via, for instance, “rituals and ceremonies”. In short, “pure appearance…orders a stake other than the real”….
…And so, the Manichean Baudrillard rides the Gnostic drive to get out of matter and “not to be there but to see, like God” – a desire he calls “the most radical metaphysical desire, the deepest spiritual joy”.24 In all of this, he concentrates on the penultimate stage of Mani’s purification process, underlining “the inseparability of good and evil, and hence the impossibility of mobilizing the one without the other”. So, when it comes to September 11, Baudrillard offers us this Manichean metaphysics of terrorism:
Terrorism is immoral. The World Trade Centre event, that symbolic challenge, is immoral, and it is a response to a globalization which is itself immoral. So, let us be immoral; and if we want to have some understanding of all this, let us go and take a little look beyond Good and Evil. When, for once, we have an event that defies not just morality, but any form of interpretation, let us try to approach it with an understanding of Evil. This is precisely where the crucial point lies – in the total misunderstanding on the part of Western philosophy, on the part of the Enlightenment, of the relation between Good and Evil. We believe naively that the progress of Good, its advance in all fields (the sciences, technology, democracy, human rights), corresponds to a defeat of Evil. No one seems to have understood that Good and Evil advance together, as part of the same movement. The triumph of the one does not eclipse the other – far from it. In metaphysical terms, Evil is regarded as an accidental mishap, but this axiom, from which all the Manichean forms of the struggle of Good against Evil derive, is illusory. Good does not conquer Evil, nor indeed does the reverse happen: they are at once both irreducible to each other, and inextricably interrelated. Read More:http://www.ubishops.ca/baudrillardstudies/vol1_2/smith.htm