It is, moreover, scarcely the case that I neglect all the major modern thinkers about temporality. A wager is laid upon the possibility of a consistency which sustains the subject, in continuity with the elusive consistency of nature. It is this paralyzing ideal that freezes the vamipiric gaze of Constantin, that defines the resignation of de Silentio, that represents the darkest hinter-side the shadow play that haunts the self. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce. Indeed, this is a commitment that I hold because of my belief that Levinas is right about the ethical relation, and Derrida is right about justice as a never-ending task.
But Climacus seems to argue that identity is at best presupposed by selfhood, which moves away from its trivial sense, toward contradiction, which the text Johannes Climacus argues is definitive of consciousness as such. The more one ponders this, the more it comes to mean that life in time is never properly intelligible, for the very reason that at no point can I find complete repose in which to take up the position—backwards. This capacity for originality within stability is what Kierkegaard calls earnestness. The impact that repetition can have on selfhood, or to be more specific, on the formation of a political subjectivity, capable of executing the collective, large scale interventions required for social emancipation, is of great interest to me, and yet I found little by way of explicit help in Repetition and Identity, and so I am hopeful that Pickstock might humor me here. By my reading, politics is the absent specter in this book, haunting its every move, and so I hope that my comments here can perhaps spark a conversation that brings it out of the shadows a bit more. It is, nevertheless, revolutionary in its willingness to redouble itself in repetition, which incessantly calls for that which is not yet here: the irruptive event of New that shifts the coordinates of possibility for the authentic political Act. For the actually existing person then, as consciousness develops it departs from at least a trivial self-coincident sense of identity, not toward it.
Such a discontinuity by leap in turn implies the possibility of a negative, spectral shadowing that would haunt the self, not just the neutral possibility of alternate selves. Pickstock gestures to the political impact of this in her defense of the transcendent aspect of repetition, that is, the repetition of the eternal: Ironically, the need for ontological hierarchy arises within the apparent democracy of pantheistic immanence, rather than for theistic transcendence. Every Sunday, a clergyman must recite the prescribed common prayer, and every Sunday he baptizes several children. The most vile character of many adapts the device so that he can violently rape a woman while simultaneously transmitting his experience to her. But life and death, growth and decay do not lie on a single flattened and positively univocal ontological level, any more than victory and defeat, good and evil or God and the lure of nullity.
In this case, the resurrection of the body might reinstate the person as repeatable, as the reunion not only of body and soul but also of a consistent, continuing identity. In a book of this kind, I could not discuss them all, but Henri Bergson and Charles Péguy are today every bit as current as Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. Using literature, Kierkegaard's understanding of non-identical repetition, the Church Fathers, and postmodern philosophers, she builds up her study by defining things and symbols. For just these reasons this is the right time for renewal, to start reinvigorated work into the meaning and value of literary reading. Morgan, despite his worries about not understanding my text, in fact understands it extremely well, and calls attention to crucial things not so much mentioned in the other responses. In this book, Pickstock sets out to form a reology alongside of, perhaps even preceding, an ontology. A wager is laid upon the possibility of a consistency which sustains the subject, in continuity with the elusive consistency of nature.
I am again grateful that Professor Simmons regards Repetition and Identity as an important book. I have enjoyed the opportunity to think with and to learn from Professor Pickstock—and I have indeed learned a great deal. In fact, I admit that some of my criticism of the style of Repetition and Identity might be less directed specifically at that text as it is directed toward the all too common tendencies toward opacity, obscurity, and insularity on display in much of contemporary continental philosophy, more broadly. It seems that the book explicitly aims to stand as a contribution to ontology, contemporary metaphysics, philosophy of literature, and philosophy of religion. Nature, in Repetition and Identity, seems not to die at all. Part of why I think that Kierkegaard is worth the difficulty is because he does open such space for making diverse friends. Just because life is inherently auto-sustaining, the mark of the limit of death as catastrophe is the very continuance of life.
A thing only has identity and consistency when it has already been repeated, but repetition summons difference and the shadow invocation of a connecting sign. My perplexity here is all the stronger because, once more, I do not find myself in substantial disagreement with his proclaimed way of understanding repetition in Kierkegaard. Those to whom we owe solidarity, recognition, and even reparations, are often not Christian or are Christian, but are not the British-Anglican variety. We must strive to act, if only to get it wrong over and over again, if we have any hope of arriving at the properly authentic act, as it is through this very error that we are able to succeed. What is clear, however, is how increasingly it is dismissed or is unrecognised as a way of thinking or an are The Literary Agenda is a series of short polemical monographs about the importance of literature and of reading in the wider world and about the state of literary education inside schools and universities. The religious life cannot be just a question of actuality but must be made possible by the collision of actuality and ideality that is determinative of consciousness itself.
Also, see 68—70, and 205—07. When we think we understand, we continue to live and so our understanding continues to progress as both we and also the thing we are attempting to understand continue to become what they will have been. This is important because when Johannes Climacus discusses subjective truth in the Postscript, he is not rejecting objective truth altogether, but simply pointing out its limits when inappropriately applied to matters of existence—and specifically Christian existence. It has an ontological dynamism, a fundamentally constitutive power, that is able to traverse, or rather transcend, in a synthetic move, the supposed binaries of modern life. For Constantius, and Kierkegaard too, hope when taken in isolation as a way of life is simply a need for the new and a rejection of the continuity of existence.
These people act because they still have hope for a better future, and they still have hope for a better future beyond capitalism and state bureaucracy because they believe in the giving of reality from the eternal. Neither is more important than the other, but it is crucial that one not go to the theater expecting to hear a refutation of Kant. Thus liberalism typically upholds only the freely choosing power of the private-property and capital owning individual, which can ironically only be secured by an all-powerful and incipiently totalitarian secular state. Constructively, speaking: Repetition, Difference, and the New Purveyors of repetition are given careful and nuanced attention in this book: Kierkegaard to Peguy, Bergson to Deleuze, Agamben to Irenaeus are given careful attention here, but it is worth noting that Hegel is again only spectrally present, as is his heterodoxic postsecular reader, Slavoj Žizek. Yet, nevertheless, religion adds poetic vision to ethical mundanity in order to achieve a broader outlook, which, by relating time to the eternal, better reconciles us both with its pedestrian and its surprising character. Therefore, its critique is far more thoroughgoing and extirpative.