December 16, 2004


1. 'There are no people. Nothing at all like that.

The human phenomenon is but the sum of densely coiled layers of illusion, each of which winds itself upon the supreme insanity that there are persons of any kind, when all there can be is mindless mirrors laughing and screaming as they parade about in an endless dream.

But when I asked the lunatic what it was that saw itself within these mirrors as they marched endlessly in stale time and space, he only rocked and screamed...'
- Thomas Ligotti, 'I Have a Special Plan for this World'

2. ‘A person is someone who believes that she authors her own life through her own choices. That is not the way most humans have ever lived. Nor is it how many of those with the best lives have seen themselves. Did the protagonists in the Odyssey or the Bhagavad-Gita think of themselves as persons? Did the characters in The Canterbury Tales? Are we to believe that bushido warriors in Edo Japan, princes and minstrels in medieval Europe, Renaissance courtesans and Mongol nomads were lacking because their lives failed to square with a modern ideal of personal autonomy?

Being a person is not the essence of humanity, only – as the word’s history suggests – one of its masks. Persons are only humans who have donned the mask that has been handed down in Europe over the past few generations, and taken it for their face.’
- John Gray, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals, 58-59

3. ‘… ‘If anyone comes to me who does not hate his father and mother, his wife and his children, his brothers and sisters – yes, even his own life – he cannot be my disciple’ (14:26)? Here, of course, we are not dealing with a simple brutal hatred demanded by a cruel and jealous God: family relations stand here metaphorically for the entire socio-symbolic network, for any particular ethnic ‘substance’ that determines our place in the global Order of Things. The ‘hatred’ enjoined by Christ is not, therefore, a kind of pseudo-dialectical opposite to love, but a direct expression of what Paul, in Corinthians I 13, describes as agape, the key intermediary term between faith and hope: it is love itself that enjoins us to ‘unplug’ from the organic community into which we were born – or, as Paul puts it, for a Christian, there are neither men nor women, neither Jews nor Greeks…’ - Zizek, The Fragile Absolute – or why is the Christian Legacy Worth Fighting For, 120-121

Posted by mark at December 16, 2004 11:44 PM | TrackBack