Friday, 17 August 2007

Reading faithfully

Fidelity is “not dogmatic allegiance and blind repetitive résumé. Philosophical fidelity is not fidelity to all that an author has written, but fidelity to what is in the author more than the author himself (more than the empirical multitude of his writings), to the impulse that activates the author’s endless work.”

—Slavoj Žižek, “Hallward’s Fidelity to the Badiou Event,” foreword to Peter Hallward, Badiou: A Subject to Truth (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003), p. xii.

5 Comments:

j. k. said...

I wish more Karl Barth scholars recognized this...

dan said...

And this explains why Zizek (and Lacan) can use Freud in such a way that it ends up making Freud look like an absolute, and utterly relevant, genius.

Zizek (and Lacan) read Freud and discover "what is in the author more than the author himself" whereas most of us today tend to find Freud to be an easy target for refutation.

I have certainly had my own style of reading challenged by Zizek (and Lacan). Instead of being an hyper-critical reader, I am learning to try and read more hopefully and more creatively.

Matt Jenson said...

a little too 'behind the text' for me. and, in the name of charity, zizek's quote seems to encourage us to stand a little too smug in our enlightenment about what this or that author was 'really' about. schweitzer's remark about staring in a jesus well and seeing oneself comes to mind.

okay, enough curmudgeonliness. thanks, as always, for great thoughts to ponder, ben. this blog has been a great addition to my reading...

Halden said...

"I wish more Karl Barth scholars recognized this... "

I'll give you one: Robert Jenson.

John said...

These excerpts from my Spiritual Master are very relevant re this very imporatant theme.

"In this age of scientific materialism, doubt is the only certainty and the only substance of mind. People in this age are profoundly crippled in their ability to grasp matters of higher certainty or to relate to subtler mental and physical processes...

The Great Tradition also suffers this same situation. The modern interpreters of the traditions generally do not approach their subject as practitioners and wise advocates. Rather, they approach their subject with this "scientic mind", empty of everything but the doubt mind and the doubt's opinions of the common mind. The usual interpreters of religion and spiritually are not themselves spiritual practioners. At most they represent some conventional and profoundly secularized "religious" mind (such as tends to characterize contemporary Christianity). There is a great range of presumptions common to the traditional structures of religious and spiritual consciousness that such individuals simply cannot uphold or even experience. Such presumptions include the certainty of the continuation of existence after death, experiental presumptions about the "invisible" or non-elemental dimensions of the cosmos of Nature, presumptions about the reality of spirits, ghosts, subtle entities and powers, magic, miracles, mystical ascent and experience, the laws karma (or the cause and effect laws that necessarily produce the future from the actions or motions of all present processes), and the supremely valuable resource or instrument of Help represented by individuals who are either highly evolved of perfectly Awakened....

The common tendency is to reduce the expressions and offerings of profound religious and spiritual consciousness to structures of mind that are basically non-religious and even anti-spiritual. The popular and theological/scholarly commentaries of our day tend to communicate and justify a materialistic, secualarized ot this-worldly, humanistic or conventionally socialized point of view...

Before the Great Tradition and the Way that I Teach can be rightly evaluated and fully embraced, there must be a restoration of human balance and a renewal of the total mind of Man. Most of humanity must go through a difficult trial of purification, rebalancing, and regeneration of higher and subtler knowledge about the structures of manifest existence and those intrinsic to the human body-mind before the real religious or spiritual response can move them to the Real again, which is Itself always already beyond and prior to those structures."

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