quote of the day

We have too often been invited to judge the atheist from the viewpoint of the belief or the faith that we suppose still drives him – in short, from the viewpoint of grace; not to be tempted by the inverse operation – to judge the believer by the violent atheist by which he is inhabited, the Antichrist eternally given ‘once and for all’ within grace.

Gilles Deleuze, Difference and Repetition, (Columbia University Press: 1994), p. 96.

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3 Responses to quote of the day

  1. noir-realism says:

    I like the quote just above this one in which Deleuze remarks: “Two believers cannot observe each other without laughing.” And, the next, “Kierkegaard said that he was a poet of the faith rather than a knight – in short, a ‘humorist’. This was not his fault but that of the concept of faith; and Gogol’s terrible adventure is perhaps more exemplary still.”

    I remember reading some letters between Gogol and Belinsky, when Belinsky makes an offhand remark in remonstration of Gogol for always portraying the Russian people as believers:

    “According to you the Russian people is the most religious in the world. That is a lie! The basis of religiousness is pietism, reverence, fear of God. Whereas the Russian man utters the name of the Lord while scratching himself somewhere. He says of the icon: If it works, pray to it; if it doesn’t, it’s good for covering pots. Take a closer look and you will see that it is by nature a profoundly atheistic people.”

    That little bit of humor: “He says of the icon: If it works, pray to it; if it doesn’t, it’s good for covering pots.” That reminded me of Deleuze’s statement: “Hence the believer does not lead his life only as a tragic sinner in so far as he is deprived of the condition, but as a comedian and clown, a simulacrum of himself in so far as he is doubled in the condition.” The idea of the icon, the fetish, the stand-in representative of God’s efficacy, the double object that can be both bestower of Grace and a pragmatic tool for covering pots, the absurdity of this paradox as a truth of what Deleuze said in your quote. Of a believer who could use an object for Grace and Pots: “the Antichrist eternally given ‘once and for all’ within grace.”

    • JTH says:

      Thanks for your comment. Let me share with you a passage from the Russian Primary Chronicles, describing a delegation purportedly sent by the Scandinavian ruler of the Kievan Rus, Vladimir I (the Varangian), in 987. They were shopping for a new faith since neither Perun the Slav thunder god nor the imported Nordic deities were getting the job done:

      When we journeyed among the [Muslims] we beheld how they worship in their temple, called a mosque,… the [Muslim] bows, sits down, looks hither and thither like a man possessed, and there is no happiness among them but only sorrow and a dreadful stench. Their religion is not good. Then we went among the [Catholics] and saw them perform many ceremonies in their temples; but we beheld no glory there. Then we went on to [Constantinople] and the Greeks led us to the edifices where they worship their God, and we knew not whether we were in heaven or on earth. For on earth there is no such splendor or such beauty, and we are at a loss how to describe it. We only know that God dwells there among men, and their service is fairer than the ceremonies of other nations. For we cannot forget that beauty.

      Deleuze’s writing is sometimes so rich that it is hard not to interpret reductively. Regarding the passage I quoted, I guess the question remaining for me is whether and to what extent Deleuze goes beyond the Cogito of faith, whose viewpoint is that of grace. That is, what does it mean (epistemologically, metaphysically) to say that the Antichrist is eternally given once and for all within grace?

      • noir-realism says:

        Yes, interesting how pragmatic and matter-of-fact these people truly were, for them things were simple: does it get the job done or not… Yes, with Deleuze I almost think of a Talmudic exegesis of many levels… one can never truly know how to interpret are decode/decipher a phrase; it’s as if he were speaking on several levels at once and yet the key to its implications were in the warp and weave of the threads… working against the whole tradition of representation he also worked against the readers natural tendency to reduce his thought to perceptive judgments. That was always the point to work against the grain of the readers natural proclivities, to force her to sense the thought as a problem and a challenge rather than as a solution in itself.

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