Analysis of the Space of Literature by Maurice Blanchot


Maurice Blanchot though being a heavy weight of Literature is largely ignored by the mainstream public due to the dense obscurity of his work. Blanchot’s literature remains largely ornamental like a piece of Baroque opera with strands of philosophy running through it. I would like to discuss the thoughts that I came through while reading his magnum opus: The Space of Literature.

Maurice Blanchot begins his work be characterizing Writing as Solitude. What is solitude in everyday life? It means an inner calm of tranquility. It is questionable to ask whether a writer writes out of solitude or excitement. He quotes Rilke: ‘I haven’t produced a single work: my solitude has engulfed me’. Why can’t the writer be agitated when he is writing his work? I am sure that Nietzsche wrote: Thus spoke Zarathustra while undergoing bouts of insanity. A Freudian ID gets provoked into the necessity of writing. Even mystics when they meditate are never in solitude. There are in a state of deep contemplation. One can also write out of the passion to write but one can never be in solitude when one is in a state of writing. When one is in the process of writing, one gravitates to the center of meaning. So I would like to reformulate Blanchot’s solitude as excitement, agitation, passion and contemplation. The mind can never be in solitude.

Again Blanchot goes on to say that a writer never knows whether his work is finished or not. In one sense it is true and in another sense it is not. Any work of Literature is only partial does not display art to sense of completion. But then again in a literary work, there’s a beginning and an ending. Let’s take an example of Ulysses by James Joyce. The novel running into eight hundred pages and depicts twelve hours of person’s life mainly Bloom, Stephen and Molly. There is a beginning and an ending to the work. Blanchot is partially right when he says that no work of art is complete. A work of art has got only degrees of perfection. Similarly Blanchot also mentions that a reader enters into solitude while encountering a work. Readers of pulp fiction are causal readers. The work of a serious reader is marked by the phenomenology of reading. The mind of a serious reader works as an inter-textual machine. Reading interferes with what has been read in the past. The ontology of existentialism, the autobiographical possession of the reader comes into play while reading. There is perfect reading but there are only imperfect interpretations.

It’s through an absence that word being of writer comes into existence. I would like to refute this statement by saying that writing is affirmation of presence, a saturation of it. Being is pronounced into the becoming of meaning. In writing there’s indulgence of the meaning of being. Writing is excess of being. Presence of being is an affirmation for a writer.

Again he goes on to say that a writer never reads his or her work. That can be true to some extent. Would a writer really enjoying editing his or work?  A writer does not function as a reader. The writer merely proof reads his or her work.

For a writer, a word is something that cannot be mastered. How could that be the case? A writer is a lingual-maniac. He finds new usages for pre-existing ones. He or she also creates new words: for example neologisms. A writer invents tropes of language. How can this be possible without mastery? Writing is not sterile but active and dynamic.

To write is to break the bond between the word and the self. I would like to say that writing is a catharsis. The bond between writing, the word, and the self is one of unison. Writing is akin to having sexual intercourse. The self and the word are bonded to a writer.

The writer belongs to a language that no one speaks. Yes, writing is inventive and seeks new paradigms of a discovery of meaning. Tropes belong to the language of nascence and newness. Writing is a process of self discovery.

When we admire the tone of the work, we are not referring to style or virtues of the language but to a silence. Blanchot is not sure about what this silence is. We are in fascination and catharsis when we unveil the imagery used by a writer. There is intellectual and emotional gratification. We do not encounter the work in silence.

What is the journal? It is not romantic, not essentially confessional. It is the writer when he or she is not writing. I feel that Blanchot is being vague there. Again he goes on to say that a journal is written out of fear and anguish. The writing of the journal is no longer historical. Romanticism has acquired new shades of meaning in blog writing. Taste, art and culture are all romanticized by bloggers undergoing a new experience. As Wordsworth has said ‘poetry is the spontaneous overflow of feeling’. To be romantic is to be in state of mind that’s in passion. Writing a journal can also be confessional. To be confessional is to be passionate and expressive. My writing on adultery is confessional. It is wrong to say that a journal is not historical. For example let’s take Ann Frank. Ann Frank is a passionate outburst of the oppressions that she encountered during a Nazi regime. Thus a journal can be confessional, romantic and historical.

To write is to surrender to time’s absence. I would like to disagree with the statement. Time in writing flows as streams of consciousness.   Time is reflective and contemplative when the writer engages in writing. Writing cannot be marked by the absence of time.

Fascination is solitude’s gaze. To write is to let fascination rule the language. The gaze of the writer could be a sexual, one; it could also be subjective, philosophical, materialistic and transcendental. The gaze is intentional and is borne out the repressed in the ID.

Again he quotes Mallarme: ‘When I write into verse, I encounter nothingness, an absence of God and my own death. It is questionable to ask Blanchot, how negation can enter the realm of writing. Negation is nihilism, a negative affirmation when something positive does not happen. Writing is self proclaiming and affirmative. Yes after Nietzsche’s proclamation that ‘God is dead’, writing has become anthropocentric. How can a writer enter the realm of death? Is the writer killing his self when he enters into the train of writing? According to Camus, while writing we enter into a philosophical suicide. Yes there’s death of the actual self and birth of the creative self.

Again Blanchot goes to distinguish between the crude word and the ornamental word. When we say that the flower is in the garden we are using crude language or the language of communication. If I use: I am flowering her lips, I am ornamentally decorating the language. Writing is ornamental, decorative and hyperbolic. Again he goes on to say: poetry is the universe of words where relations and configurations are attained through sound, figure and rhythmic language. Poetry is akin to the musicality of words, and it flows with the Dionysian rhythm and makes presence with the Orpheus of figures.

Kafka began his writing out of true despair. We should know that Kafka had a stormy relationship with his father. He was also an exiled Jew. Kafka despised authority figures. Writing for Kafka grew out of protest against authoritarianism. This is especially true when we analysis his work—the Metamorphosis.  The work is allegorical and shows the negation of individuality by authority figures. The individual in Metamorphosis is reduced into fragments. Writing for Kafka was spiritual and psychological salvation. Kafka made the affirmation that nothing else besides literature satisfies me. The more Kafka writes: the less sure is he of himself.

Art is primarily the consciousness of unhappiness not its consolation. How can art be the consciousness of unhappiness alone? One can experience art through the consciousness of joy and affirmation. Let’s diagnose Picasso’s painting of the Guernica. Was Picasso filled with angst of the bombing of Basque? Or was he affirming creativity while painting the Guernica. When I meditate on Dali’s painting: The persistence of Memory, I am filled with cathartic interpretation. I appreciate its meaning to portray time as streams of consciousness. I also marvel at the melting clock placed on the frozen embryo and interpret it as Dali’s own oedipal trauma.


An Analysis of Foucault’s Order of Things

Foucault is a postmodern, post structural philosopher, credited with investigating the archaeology of knowledge and bifurcating knowledge into various epistemes (knowledge Systems).
The ‘Order of Things’ traces the development of Epistemes as predominant discourses starting from the 16th Century and going on up to the 20th century. Foucault develops an archaeology of knowledge.
What was Episteme like in the 16th century? It was a conflation of rational and magical sources. Knowledge was based on similitude and resemblance. The sciences attributed properties to things based on their resemblance. Language developed its syntactical qualities by absorbing verbs, and classifying nouns. The world view of the 16th century was not rational but based on the esoteric and the occult. The 16th century is known for its schism of being narcissistic with the symptom of eclectic catharsis of knowledge.
Towards the 17th and the 18th centuries we find the development of scientific thought, rationalism and empiricism. An example is the Helio-centric view developed by Copernicus that the sun revolved around the earth and that the Sun is the centre of the Solar system. Mathematics progressed with development of Algebra and Geometry. The worldview of the 18th century was marked by the development of a scientific outlook. Descartes brought out his famous dictum: Cogito Ergo Sum, I think I therefore I exist. There was a detour from transcendentalism to rationalism and empiricism.
Similarly too in language we find a heap of changes. From the study of grammar, there developed the Philosophy of language that is Philology. The etymological processing of words became a predominant cult. We find Nietzsche reading Greek and interpreting art as the fusion of Dionysian and Apollonian elements. By the 20th century, we find the predominance of structuralist thought which traces the roots of language to the making of Signs—the Signifier and the Signified. The signifier belonged to the sensate realm and the signified belong to the intelligible realm. For example if I say Rose is Passion, rose is the signifier and passion the signified. Post-Structralists developed the Binary divide of language that is a Sign privileges some terms and marginalize others. For example: Whites are a privileged term where as black and colored people are marginalized.
We also find the development of the trajectory of epsitemes in Philosophy. Philosophy grew out of metaphysical thought which was based on God and Religion. Towards the 18th and the 19th century we find the development of naturalism and evolutionary thought. This promoted a scientific world view. Man became a product of mechanistic materialism. Again in the 20th century we find philosophical paradigms shifting to Ontology and Phenomenology. Thus Heidegger invented the question of being of meaning. Sartre developed existentialism with the consciousness of being existing in three states: Being-in-itself, Being-for-itself and Being for others. Sartre also developed affirmation and negation as characteristic traits of the Ego. We also find in that in the modern age there was a paradigm shift to Postmodernism. The Sign was ontologically deconstructed. The Binary divide of language became a philosophical discourse. Foucault was able to bring out power as the ideology of dominant discourse. Lacan in psychoanalysis challenged with stability of the self and introduced the concept of dreams being a language. Lacan is also famous for bringing into fruition the Mirror Stage and the Gaze. We also find the archeology of feminist, gay and lesbian discourses. Althusser reread Marxism and developed the concept of ideological apparatuses.

An Analysis of Pierre Menard’s Quixote by Borges

I would like to analyze the story based on the literary codes developed by Barthes. They are: the hermeneutic code, Proairetic code, the Semantic Code, the symbolic code and the cultural code. For Barthes, the hermeneutic code represents the enigma of the text. The Proairetic code represents the spatial and temporal dimensions. The Semantic code refers to the level of connotation. The symbolic code represents the binary division of language and the cultural code the conventions of the society.

Looking at the story from a Hermeneutic code, Borges writes about an imaginary writer and a book that does not exist. He creates facts out of fantasy and fantasy out of facts and his whole fictional exploration is a futile phantasmagoria.
He begins the story by quoting a catalogue made by Madame Henri Bachelier on the omissions and additions made to the text of Menard which appeal to Calvinists, Masons and the Circumcised. Is he making a dig at conservatism? Is he being skeptical about tradition? One can never fully interpret due to the very obscurity of his comment. There is an ironic humor inherent in this statement.
Borges again becomes fictional and goes on to enumerate that an examination of the files of Menard is necessary for the exegesis of Quixote. The files are literary and mention the following:
(a) A symbolist sonnet which occurred twice in a review. Everyone is familiar with idea of symbolism and symbolist poets. What one can’t discern is to why Borges makes a random connection to symbolism while trying to explicate Menard’s Don Quixote. Is Borges playing some kind of practical joke with the reader?
(b) A monograph containing the possibility of creating a poetic vocabulary of concepts which would not be synonyms or periphrases of those which make up everyday language. Is Borges hinting at adornment of poetic language? Adornment can take place by clothing words with figures of speech or using neologisms.
(c) A monograph on certain connections and affinities with the Philosophies of Descartes, Leibniz and Wilkins. Is Borges making a big bluff or does he want to impress his readers that he is conversant with the philosophies of the above mentioned philosophers. Why does the author want to show off to an audience?
(d) The work sheets of a monograph on George Boole’s symbolic logic. It is very intriguing that Borges makes this strange connection. How can logic be related to fiction.
(e) An examination of the essential metric laws of French Prose. Borges is conversant in Spanish. I am not sure whether he has the adequate knowledge to comment on French Prose. Meter again is connected to poetry. How can it be equated with prose? Is this a structural flaw in the narrative?
(f) A work in which different solutions are given to the problem of Achilles and the Tortoise. It is really absurd, a canard of the mind. May be Borges is inducing the reader to think that Achilles won the race. Borges has not deconstructed the paradox of Zeno. I wonder why Borges does not suggest an alternative.
(g) A determined analysis of the syntactical customs Toulet. Menard says that censure and praise are sentimental operations which have nothing to do with literary criticism. This statement makes Borges a precursor to literary theorists.
Again Borges digresses and goes on to discuss texts which have inspired Menard to create Quixote. One is a philological fragment which mentions Christ on a boulevard, Hamlet on La Cannebiere and Don Quixote on Wall Street. The depiction of Christ is rather incongruous. What is the mystic connection between Christ and a boulevard? The same goes to Hamlet. Are the Moguls of Wall Street Quixotic?
Again Borges the writer mentions that Menard writes to him that the final term in a theological, metaphysical demonstration –the objective world, God, causality the forms of the universe is common in my framed novel. This demonstrates that Borges is a confused writer. If the world is created by God how it can be objective? Is he mixing up a broth of evolutionary theism?
Again he expostulates that to write Quixote, one must know Spanish well, recover a Catholic faith, fight against the Moors and forget the history of Europe between the years 1602 and 1918. Everyone knows that Quixote by Cervantes was a revolt against Catholicism. The fight between Catholics and the moors is related to History. Is Borges being ironic when he reiterates that we should forget History? 1918 is symbolic for the beginning of the First World War. The narrative of Borges is so fragmented and ambles irrelevantly from one topic to another.
Borges contradicts himself by saying that in a passage of Menard never authored by him there is a sentence: ‘the river nymphs and the dolorous and humid echo.’ This provokes the reader to laugh in delicious delight. Borges is embarking on a flight of fancy. This statement brings into the mind of Borges a quotation of Shakespeare ‘Where a malignant and a turbaned Turk’. Is the monument of literature a sheer extravagant waste? Is it built on the foundations of whimsical chicanery?
Menard in his novel Quixote has no gypsies, no conquistadors and no mystics. Is Borges making an allusion of irony? Again Borges says that in chapter nine of Menard’s Quixote there is a quote: ‘…truth whose mother is History, rival of time, depository of deeds, witness of the past, exemplar and adviser to the present and the future’s counselor. Borges is being philosophical about History. But the fundamental questions are: is History a truth? In postmodernism History is a methodological discourse.

Critical Analysis of Derrida’s Writing and Difference

Jacque Derrida is a postmodern, post-structural philosopher noted for his concepts of deconstruction and binary divide of texts. For him reading a text, an exegesis would be to find out the occurrences privilege and marginalization. I would like to critically interpret his seminal work: ‘Writing and Difference.’ My writing of Derrida is not chronological.
According to Derrida, the beginning of Writing is the closure of the book and the opening of meaning. ‘To write is to have the passion of Origin’. God replaces God and the Book replaces the Book. The return to the book is an elliptical essence. The tools of writing are perversion and subversion. Here Derrida is attempting to deconstruct the LOGOS—the WORD as it is present since Judaism and Christianity and also the ancient Greek Philosophers. Beyond syntax, grammar, discourse posits the book to be lying in the cradle of anarchy. The book has to indulge in a democratic dialogism. Again Derrida goes on to say that the center of the BOOK has to be deconstructed. Signify the center, rupture it methodologically and insert a play of meanings. I would like to call the play of meanings with the center has performationism. Derrida questions the religiosity of God being a center of meaning. A presence of meaning leaves a trace and Derrida calls it as what is inherent and present in the not-said sign. Every signified of a meaning whether be it transcendental, ontological, epistemological or axiological has primarily a Signifier. A Christian apologetic view would be God is God: the signifier and the signified. From an ontological view point: being would be a reference to consciousness and its contents. From an epistemological view point, a sign becomes a causative totality of proven inference and invests meaning as a unity. From an axiological viewpoint, the sign as a chain of meaning is normative.
In another chapter it is said: ‘we need to interpret interpretations more than interpret things. A structure of language, the unity of a sign is an organization of a center. According to Derrida, the history of metaphysics is history of metaphors and metonymies. Let’s look at John 1:1 ‘in the beginning was the WORD, the WORD was with GOD and the WORD was GOD’. The word works here as a metaphor and as a metonymy. A Christian world view acknowledges an inherent presence. For Derrida speech is privileged into the signifier WORD and the signified GOD. Derrida argues that the absence of a transcendental signified extends the domain to a play of signification. To pun Derrida: ‘A laughing God is playing with the Universe.’ The concept of transcendence can be extended to the ontological realm of the bodily experience. For example copulation can be a signifier and orgasm can be the signified. The argument of Derrida that there is no privileged transcendental signified is a misnomer. From an ontological position, emotions like hate, love, lusty, greed and covetousness are all signified from signifiers, and the starting point would be the EGO. Derrida again reiterates that the word Signifier must be abandoned as a metaphysical concept. This could be an erroneous argument. For example Ontological structures like love and hate have the signified in them.
Here Derrida mentions the work of the structural anthropologist Levi Strauss. He observes the distinction between nature and culture. Nature and Culture work on a scheme of binary divide. Levi Strauss uses the example of bricolage, which in literature means creation from a diverse range of sources. Derrida uses the example of MANA, a Polynesian word, a magical one which means power. He mentions that the word MANA has a symbolic structure beyond the syntax. Rupturing the symbolic presence can be a play with the center. Incest has been a taboo since time immemorial and that is linked with the binary chain of the culture as opposed to nature. Derrida is not clear about whether incest should be deconstructed.
Derrida refers to the allegory of Hegel—the Master and Slave dialectic. Hegel’s allegory refers to two types of consciousness, one that of the Master and other that of the slave. The slave is subservient to the Master and the Master is dependent on the slave. Derrida uses this allegory to maintain the inadequacy of speech to maintain the sovereign. Every form of writing leaves the structure of trace within in it. We can use the allegory of the Master and the Slave and juxtapose it with the psychological structures of the ID and the EGO. The body of writing emanates from the ID and the form of writing from the EGO. Again Derrida uses the Hegelian concept of Aufhebung (German) which is equivocal in meaning. Aufhebung in one sense means to preserve and in another sense means to abolish. Let’s use Derrida’s concept of the trace. When God said: ‘let there be light’: the concept of darkness is inherent in it. A trace leaves an imprint of what is not said but what exists in writing.
In the Theatre of Cruelty, Derrida mentions that the theatre must be an experience of the Body. Western theatre has been stripped of the force of essence. Theatre must make use of a liberated life. Theatre should be the privileged site for the destruction of life. The theatre of cruelty expulses God from the stage. Theatre should be released from the stage. Derrida means that the themes of transgression, blasphemy, lust, covetousness, murder should be become centers of meaning that deconstruct the binary codes of the Super Ego. Theatre should not be conceived with passive spectators enjoying a stereotyped play but become an active presence forcing spectators to think, reason and annihilate what is logos as a context and perspective. Theatre should be a spectacle of becoming.
In Force and Signification, Derrida comments that excess is the very possibility of writing. The book arouses the enticement of meaning. The Writer is an idiom. The revelatory power of literary language is free speech unburdened. My question to Derrida is, from a being of past, how can we possess a new being. How is the History of the metaphor possible? Again Derrida uses the Nietzsche’s concept of the Apollonian and the Dionysian in writing. The Apollonian melody and the Dionysian rhythm and beat become self indulgent metaphors for writing.
In Cogito and the History of Madness, Derrida touches on the themes of Psychiatry. Philosophy demeans folly, madness and dementia. Derrida refers to Foucault’s analysis of bringing out the trajectory in the architecture of madness. Madness is a discourse in psychiatry, a cruel and violent discourse. Foucault connects madness with alienation. Derrida is critical about Foucault because he uses the philosophical and linguistic structure of sanity to explain the exegesis of the mad. Madness is institutionalized into medicine and it occupies a repressive structure.
Here, Derrida talks of Edmond Jabes and the question of the Jewish race. A race is born out the book. Words choose the poet. There should be disembarkation from the obedience of the law to a self proclaimed autonomy. Was breaking of the Tablets by Moses a blasphemy? The difference between speech and writing is Sin. How can Jews exist without eschatology? Metaphor or the animality of the letter is a primary and equivocal, a signifier becoming life. Metaphysics rejects the historicity and temporality of man. Derrida asks the question: how to account for the metaphysics and transcendence in the ontology of man. All metaphysics has a privileged center—light and a marginalized periphery—darkness. It is interesting to note how Derrida questions his own authenticity as an identity of being a Jew. Derrida becomes transgressional when he encounters the text of Judaism. Light and God are reduced to Signs and de-centered. Derrida has highlighted the suffering and the exile of the Jews. Can we avoid metaphysics, transcendence and eschatology? Being to becoming is the phenomenology of occupying a metaphysical structure in the ontology of consciousness.

Critical Analysis of the Philosophy of Deleuze

Deleuze belongs to school of Postmodern, post-structuralist thought. In his philosophical works, he has addressed questions on art, literature, science and philosophy. He has used the Cinema and conceptualized it into a philosophical system.
According to him questions on Science, Literature, Art and Philosophy are extensions of the questioning power of life. Post structuralism responded to the impossibility of founding knowledge either on phenomenology or the structures of language. This argument, a flawed one poses serious questions for philosophy. Phenomenology or the appearances of the contents of consciousness and language as a semantic structure of signs (the signifier and the signified) have structures inherent in them. There is no empty sign. A sign carries a code with an inherent meaning in it. Deleuze also emphasizes the structure of becoming. There is always a being to a becoming.
In his book: Anti Oedipus complex and Schizo-analysis he reiterates that life was an open and proliferating world of connections. The self is in paranoid flux. This statement is rather eccentric as to how can we assume that the self is paranoid. The stability of the self lies in balancing the ID, EGO and the Super Ego. The balancing is not an easy task. The self is always like a tightrope walker adjusting his poles when walking on a rope or a string of wire. Life as a series of connections is quite compatible and deserves no argument.
Deleuze defines Philosophy as providing concepts, art as providing affects and Science as being functional. For example postmodernism as a Philosophy provides us a binary divide of language where signs privilege and marginalize each other. A deconstructive reading of text exposes these contradictions inherent in it. As an example for ART, let’s take the ‘Persistence of Memory’ by the Surreal Artist Salvador Dali. The painting represents an embryo covered with a melting clock. Dream and reality is co-represented in this work of art. Time is interiorized and made as an inherent inner reality. Does the embryo represent the conflict of the artist with his own Oedipus complex? When we look at Science, the DNA codifies our genes and the analysis of a genetic structure is a functional one. According to him Literature should shock, shatter or provoke the reader. It’s questionable to ask Deleuze how themes, like incest, rape, murder and pedophilia can be represented in Literature. Sigmund Freud has rightly said that a society has to prevent incest and murder for the continuance of civilization. Deleuze also remarks that events in Science and Art will provoke new problems for Philosophy.
Deleuze classifies the Cinema and its philosophy into two. They are, the Movement image and the Time image. Movement image is linked to the movement of the camera, giving expression to movement. Thus we find that a series of shots captured on screen are represented in a sequence or a flow. In art cinema there are many variations where images can be presented from multiple perspectives. In the Time Image, time is presented indirectly. Cinema presents images liberated from the everyday organizing structure of life. Deleuze is not very clear about the viewer’s perspective. Do we succumb to the Cinema or challenge it. Popular Cinema is mainly made to suit the entertainment needs of the public. There is a lot of stereotyping in popular cinema. On the other hand art Cinema offers different perspectives. I felt like viewing art when I watched Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams. I was particularly fascinated by the presentation of Van Gogh’s pictures. The question for the Philosophy of Cinema is that when does it become art? Popular Cinema is a commercialized fetish for mass consumption.
Deleuze introduces the concept of life to that of a machine. For him, a machine is not a metaphor but a reality. For Deleuze the machine allows for an active ethics. Machine has no subjectivity or organizing center. Machines work through connections. De-territorialisation occurs when the event of becoming escapes or detaches from the original territory. My question for Deleuze is how we can view life as a machine devoid of subjectivity. For example making love is like writing poetry. The functional aspect of it can be a machine. The sharing and giving of love is not mechanical but poetic and it’s an immersion of subjectivity. Again if I am talking of romance to a lover, I am establishing a connection that is not mechanical phenomenon. The subject and consciousness can never exist in a state of de-territorialization. When I read a text, I am not detached but enter into the realm of the reader’s thoughts. Deleuze has mistakenly appropriated a political concept into human cognition and effect. De-territorialization lacks conceptual clarity. How can we conceptualize ethics into a system of machines? That would result in anarchy in the world.
Again Deleuze has used the concept of transcendental empiricism. He has mixed up two unrelated concepts together. In existential Philosophy, the concept of transcendence has been shorn of its divine character and given the status of feeling and emotion. Empiricism is a philosophy that relies on the structure of epistemology based on facts and data. An empirical based on approach is scientific or mathematical where as we can say that human relationships are transcendental.

An Existential Analysis of Tropes in the Book of Job

The book of Job in the Old Testament is one of the most esoteric books of Wisdom Literature. The Devil makes a pact with God, that is, servant Job is the most devout and most loyal to God because he has blessed him with prosperity. The Devil challenges God to allow him take away his possessions and also be afflicted. Job will then turn against God. Then God allows the Devil to test Job. Job’s material possessions and his children are taken away and he is afflicted bodily. Yet Job remains steadfastly loyal to God and in then end God restores to Job all what is lost.
The Devil in his conversations with God says: you pamper Job like a pet and make sure nothing ever happens to his family or possessions and bless everything he does. This conversation a simile, notes the nature of the Devil which is envy and hatred. The Devil wants to challenge the possessive belongingness of God. This intentionality is a negative archetype. Christianity and Judaism are religions inherent with the Binary divide of God and the Devil. Hatred, envy, covetousness, lust and murder are possessions of a negative archetype. Atheistic existentialism does away with the concept of evil and exhorts a moral relativism. It’s puzzling as to why God lets to rein a negative archetype in Job’s life.
When Job has lost his children and his material possessions, he replies: ‘naked I come from the Mother’s womb and naked I will return to the womb of the earth.’ The womb of the earth is a metaphor. Here Job puts the earth in a feminine archetype, the earth being a mother, a womb.
When Job is afflicted with sores and ulcers, he laments: ‘blank out the night I was conceived. Let it be a black hole in space.’ It’s true that black holes do exist in space. However used metaphorically it points out to a dismal abyss, a hole of angst where light gets trapped.
Again Job complains ‘may those who are good at cursing, curse the day and unleash the beast Leviathan on it’. The interpretation of this trope is both poetic and apocalyptic. As a poetic trope, it embodies a woe, a pathos of being signified. As an apocalyptic metaphor we find mention of the Leviathan as a beast coming out from the sea in the book of Revelation. A cloned animal-human can be transgenic beast. Leviathan could also signify the entry of warring nations from the sea.
One of the friends of Job asks him: “Will a truly innocent person end up as scrap heap”? Dirt and squalor is manifested in the metaphor. This also an accusation that lays to test Job’s innocence. Job’s friend replies: ‘God the Sovereign trusts no one and then how can he trust humans who are as fragile as moths’? As fragile as moths is an existential simile. Looking at it in a spiritual sense, we are lacking a sense of understanding as to why God allows the Devil to compromise with Job’s integrity. From an existential nihilist point of view, the metaphor conveys a meaningless life. Man can be compared to Camus’ metaphor: the myth of the Sisyphus.
Job replies to his friends: ‘my misery could be weighed; you could pile the whole bitter load on scales; it will be heavier than the sand in the sea. The poison arrows of God are within me’. Scales connote the weighing down of angst. Job is indulging in narcissism of negativity. Angst being heavier than the sea is hyperbolic. God’s decision to be unresponsive to Job’s plight is conveyed in the metaphor: poison arrows. For Sartre, the existential atheist this is incongruous; a nihilist, existentialist should have the power to bear his or her own sorrows.
Job says that ‘God can squash me like a bug. Do I have the nerves of steel? Do you think I am made of iron?’ The existential dilemma of Job being a helpless victim is poignant in this portrayal. Job is grudgingly yielding to God’s will. This makes me ask the question was God, Christ like when he dealt with Job? Why did God of the Old Testament choose to be a different God than the God of the New Testament Christ? Job is succumbing to the pathos of a burden that he can’t bear. For Sartre, the God that you lament is yourself. The tyranny of being in angst is a plight that humans have to experience on earth.
Job raves against his friends that though God has abandoned him, his friends are not sticking with him and they are like ‘gulch in the desert’. The irony of the situation is that all of Job’s friends are fair-weather friends. Job repeats that he is covered with maggots and scabs and his skin gets scales and oozes with puss.’ The inner turmoil is so intense and one wonders at the storms of anguish that Job is undergoing. A reptilian character of Satan being condemned to the lake of fire is inherent in this metaphor. The body for Job becomes an unfriendly, errant machine. Again he says that he is ‘a puff of air.’ Job denigrates himself and points to the insignificance of human life. We have to agree with Sartre: ‘man’s freedom is his condemnation’. He tells that his life is ‘like ship under full sail; like an eagle plummeting to its prey’. A sinking ship and an eagle reaching out its prey depict horrible situations in Job’s life. He mentions that: ‘God has made him like handcrafted piece of pottery. He marvels at how beautifully God has worked the clay. Now God has reduced him to a mud pie.’ Job juxtaposes the marvel of being made and then to be reduced to mud again. Job questions the meaning, purpose and destiny in God’s creation. An existential understanding would be, you have to weather your own storm. Life for an existential nihilist is absurd. Is Job like an existentialist questioning God’s absurdity? He says that his ‘ears are a swamp of affliction’. Pain and sorrow are connoted into a metaphor that is synesthetic. He repeats that: why God kicks him like a tin can and why beat a dead horse. The tentacles of torment for no reason find a passionate plea in Job’s justification of his fate.
Job’s friends complain that he is a windbag belching hot air. Angst is personal and can be felt only by the self. Job is in a peculiar position that God has turned his face away from him. Job’s friend exhorts him that he will be sleeping in a hovel fit for a dog. He will end up as shriveled weeds. They have sex with sin and give birth to evil. Their lives are wombs breeding evil. The despicable condition of Job is portrayed in gargantuan terms. Death will contort him and grind him to weeds. His own friends accuse him of adultery. We are confronted with the fact that Job’s friends are beginning to despise him. Job’s friends despise him by saying that the light of the wicked is put out. Their flame dies down and is extinguished. The hungry grave is ready to gobble them up for supper to lay them out for a gourmet. Job’s friends condemn him to an eternal hell. It’s remarkable that Job’s friends assume the role of God. Job is condemned to death and damnation.
God speaks to Job, how can you justify my ways? Like I have created you, I have also created the behemoth. Existentially speaking it’s beyond human comprehension to understand God’s ways. Job is existentially, a tragic postmodern hero. In the end we find self comfort that God restores Job’s prosperity. God compares his creation of Lucifer the archangel of Music and his fallen nature to that of extreme pride. It’s existentially tragic to understand that creation as gone awry.

Contextualizing Being

With the emergence of Post-modern Philosophy, being as embodying presence has been put in the back seat. Postmodern philosophers argue that there is no presence in the meaning of being and being as a semantic structure is devoid of meaning, being an empty signifier. Postmodern Philosophers wanted to deconstruct the presence of being in the LOGOS or the word as espoused by Christian World View. The problem of nullifying meaning of being, creates again a logo-centric semantic structure, a meaning of being as that of anti-being. Negation of being creates its own thought structure which implies a presence of non-meaning in being.
The presentation of non-being as implied in Postmodern Philosophy implies a non-presence. This poses some problems in philosophical thought. It’s true that according to postmodern philosophers that when a text is probed in the meaning of language, it enters the stream of Binary Divide with a privileged center and marginalized periphery. When a text is deconstructed and the peripheral marginalization of meaning is brought out, the text enters another realm of becoming another center as the meaning of being.
Let’s examine the structure of being a presence to meaning from a metaphysical point of view. Here I would like to take a metaphysical framework of the Christian World View. From a Christian World View the meaning of God as a being in the presence of meaning takes a double frame work of God being the Signifier and the Signified and thus we can say God is GOD. When the Bible is being read hermeneutically: LOGOS is assumed to be a presence as the meaning of being and that being a logo-centric God. Evil and Satan assume to become the connoted as a marginalized periphery. The Binary divide of God verses Satan is a symptomatic pathology of privilege and marginalization. Even though the Devil is marginalized, he or she is assumed a presence, an entity of being or a non-being. Even though LOGOS has been deconstructed, the presence of meaning in being cannot be wiped off. As a semantic structure it becomes the connoted and by faith and belief the meaning of being in GOD is sustained in life.
Now let’s look at the structure of being from an Ontological point of view. Here I would like to take Sartre’s Philosophical concepts and also analyze the structure of being from Freudian context. Sartre has bifurcated being into an Ontological structure as the being in it-self, the being for it-self and the being for others. The being in it-self is a primary referent of pure consciousness. Here Sartre has refuted Descartes famous dictum: Cogito Ergo Sum: meaning: I think therefore I exist, saying that Descartes was referring to a secondary aspect of consciousness: that of thinking, a consciousness which becomes a being for itself. It’s hard to deny the presence of meaning of being as a primary vehicle of consciousness. Being is a presence of meaning and exists as consciousness and its denial as absence as a semantic construct is belittling of the meaning of being by postmodern philosophy. The second construct of Sartre is being for it-self. Being for it-self occurs when consciousness is directed towards an object or goal. Being for it-self is purposive and it can be cognitive as well as affective. Here Sartre also uses the concept of negation or nothingness. For example: I am expecting the arrival of a friend and he does not come: then I enter into a stream of negation. Negation also implies a presence or non-presence as the meaning of being. There is no pure emptiness in the conceptuality of being. The third of Sartre’s concept was, being for others. It refers to eleemosynary aspect of human relationship. How can it be signified as being empty in presence? Meaning of being always signifies a presence of meaning in being. Even when being occupies a semantic structure, it becomes a vehicle of consciousness for the reader.
Next I would like to look at the structure of being in meaning from a psychological framework. The human mind is not a tabula rasa. I would like to enunciate the Freudian concept of the ID, EGO and the Super Ego. The ID, the primary seat of passions is controlled by the EGO and regulated by the Super Ego. Even its structure in deconstructive reading implies subversion. For example let’s look at the maxim: deify the ID, glorify the EGO and subvert the Super Ego. Here also, being occupies a phenomenology of presence of meaning. Again, if we look at the structure of the unconscious, it is never static and it’s a dynamic entity. The unconscious is a ceaseless machine. The very act of reading a text implies the placement of meaning in the structure of consciousness. Being as a structure of meaning is present with a signifier and a signified.