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Jesu, Juva

Coming true

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By what means is attachment established? Very simple now. By a word spoken, may it be only three letters, “yes,” by which a person is willing to stand by this one word for the rest of his life, or her life—that is speech. To . . . speak with potency, with fertility, with fecundity, with procreational power, comes from our opportunity to throw ourselves behind our own word, to verify this word. . . .

If that word is true, then it has to come true. The English, wonderful phrase for verification is “to come true.” You have to make it come true. So the truth is always planted into this world, gentlemen, by a word, and the acts follow. And that’s how the spirit becomes flesh. You say, “I am this girl’s bridegroom.” And it takes you 50 years to become it. And that’s why the declaration is so important. The declaration in itself would be nonsense, if you wouldn’t do anything with it. It allows you now to make it come true. That’s why you have to say it. Before, she will not budge. That’s why at that moment you are the bridegroom, because you go at anchor, and you declare which direction from now on your various steps shall have, or in which light they shall be interpreted. . . .

For example, you take two men. One, engaged; and the other, married. And they take ship, and sail from New York to New Zealand. Well, the engaged one everybody will suspect of running to New Zealand, so that he has not to marry the girl. The husband we’ll investigate and we’ll say, “The poor man has to make a living. He can only . . . make it by selling sewing machines in New Zealand. So now they are separate for a long time.” But he got married before to express his willingness to stick it out.

The same act, gentlemen, like separation, for a lover . . . and a bridegroom are very different, because the bridegroom has already declared that all his steps from now on must be seen as circling around his power to build this nest, to come back, to send money, to raise his children, or what-not, to acquire a new citizenship, if you want, or a place in New Zealand. That’s all possible, but then the wife and children will come after him. That is, not one step a man takes, for example, after his wedding, can be understood except in the light of this first declaration. (Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Cross of Reality, 1953)

Written by Scott Moonen

June 8, 2017 at 5:49 pm

Posted in Marriage, Quotations

Yes

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Soft is the breath of a maiden’s YES:
Not the light gossamer stirs with less;
But never a cable that holds so fast
Through all the battles of wave and blast,
And never an echo of speech or song
That lives in the babbling air so long!
There were tones in the voice that whispered then
You may hear to-day in a hundred men.

(Oliver Wendell Holmes, “Dorothy Q.“)

Written by Scott Moonen

June 8, 2017 at 5:35 pm

Posted in Marriage, Poetry

Personhood

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Rosenstock-Huessy contests the ideal of a full and perfect outward authentic expression of the self:

The fiction of today is that everybody by birth is a person. That’s a very dangerous fiction. That’s why we today are in such trouble with our religious education, with our political parties, with Mr. McCarthy, with Eisenhower. It isn’t true that a man wakes up and is a person. A person is a man who can cope with opposites, who can decide when is the time for what in his life. If you are a playboy, and you don’t know when to become serious and become soldiers, you aren’t a person. You are a playboy. As we say, you see. Or when you are a brute . . . a man who is always on the warpath, I mean, who has to “fight the Japs,” . . . ? Well, he’s not a person. He’s just again a boy, a pirate, a—or a wild Westerner. Not a person.

A person is something you have completely lost sight of. . . . A person is something very clear, who . . . can decide, the mask, or the role which is on his face. . . . Persona in Latin means to sound through the mask. The person is originally the actor on the tragic scene who wears the mask of the hero, you see. And a person is that man who therefore knows when to wear one mask or the other. (Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Cross of Reality, 1953, emphasis added)

Written by Scott Moonen

June 4, 2017 at 9:19 pm

Posted in Quotations

The one and the many

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Land, skill, and markets are eternal ways of economizing, of increasing the peace. And you cannot afford to divide history in this artificial manner and say, “This is old and obsolete, and this is now the type we do today.”

Gentlemen: capitalism, feudalism, and hermitism . . . they are equally obsolete today, all three. And they are equally inevitable today as partial solutions. That is, you can no longer afford to say there is one economy, one type of economy. . . . It is a mania to believe [that] because there is one God, there must also be one economy. One God and many economies. That’s how God created the universe. It’s ridiculous! I mean, how can anybody be a capitalist, and how can anybody be a socialist or anybody a communist; only a monomaniac can be this who mistakes the unity of the divine government and the creation of the universe with his hobby and says, “My hobby is the only way of running things.” . . .

The only answer to Communism is that there is no panacea in economics. There are innumerable ways of doing things. The earlier you wake up to this, the more you can laugh off all these issues. Communism is for a normal person not an issue, because it wants to idolize one way of doing things. And how can any normal person think that this earthly matter should be treated in one way only? God is one, and you are many, and the elements of the earth are an infinity—an infinity. And every one thing has to be taken care of in a different manner. Money has to be treated in one way, and electricity has been treated in another way. And the . . . garden has to be treated in
another way. (Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, Cross of Reality, 1953)

Written by Scott Moonen

June 4, 2017 at 8:55 pm

Posted in Quotations

No, not one (2)

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Resorting to a psychological explanation [of Peter’s denial of Jesus] is less innocent than it appears. In refusing the mimetic interpretation, in looking for the failure of Peter in purely individual causes, we attempt to demonstrate, unconsciously of course, that in Peter’s place we would have responded differently; we would not have denied Jesus. Jesus reproaches the Pharisees for an older version of the same ploy when he sees them build tombs for the prophets that their fathers killed. The spectacular demonstrations of piety toward the victims of our predecessors frequently conceal a wish to justify ourselves at their expense: “If we had lived in the time of our fathers,” the Pharisees say, “we would not have joined them in spilling the blood of the prophets.”

The children repeat the crimes of their fathers precisely because they believe they are morally superior to them. This false difference is already the mimetic illusion of modern individualism, which represents the greatest resistance to the mimetic truth that is reenacted again and again in human relations. The paradox is that the resistance itself brings about the reenactment. (René Girard, I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, 20)

Written by Scott Moonen

June 4, 2017 at 8:42 pm

Posted in Books, Quotations

No, not one

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When Jesus declares that he does not abolish the Law but fulfills it, he articulates a logical consequence of his teaching. The goal of the Law is peace among humankind. Jesus never scorns the Law, even when it takes the form of prohibitions. Unlike modern thinkers, he knows quite well that to avoid conflicts, it is necessary to begin with prohibitions.

The disadvantage of prohibitions, however, is that they don’t finally play their role in a satisfying manner. Their primarily negative character, as St. Paul well understood, inevitably provokes in us the mimetic urge to transgress them. The best way of preventing violence does not consist in forbidding objects, or even rivalistic desire, as the tenth commandment does, but in offering to people the model that will protect them from mimetic rivalries rather than involving them in these rivalries.

Often we believe we are imitating the true God, but we are really imitating only false models of the independent self that cannot be wounded or defeated. Far from making ourselves independent and autonomous, we give ourselves over to never ending rivalries.

The commandment to imitate Jesus does not appear suddenly in a world exempt from imitation; rather it is addressed to everyone that mimetic rivalry has affected. Non-Christians imagine that to be converted they must renounce an autonomy that all people possess naturally, a freedom and independence that Jesus would like to take away from them. In reality, once we imitate Jesus, we discover that our aspiration to autonomy has always made us bow down before individuals who may not be worse than we are but who are nonetheless bad models because we cannot imitate them without falling with them into the trap of rivalries in which we are ensnarled more and more.

We feel that we are at the point of attaining autonomy as we imitate our models of power and prestige. This autonomy, however, is really nothing but a reflection of the illusions projected by our admiration for them. The more this admiration mimetically intensifies, the less aware it is of its own mimetic nature. The more “proud” and “egoistic” we are, the more enslaved we become to our mimetic models. (René Girard, I See Satan Fall Like Lightning, 14-15)

Written by Scott Moonen

June 4, 2017 at 8:33 pm

Posted in Books, Quotations

Light

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Speaking of how the effects of the gospel can dissipate, René Girard writes:

All our resistance is turned against the light that threatens us. It has revealed so many things for so long a time without revealing itself that we are convinced it comes from within us. We are wrong to appropriate it. We think we are the light because we witness it. (Girard, The Scapegoat, 205)

Written by Scott Moonen

May 27, 2017 at 2:56 pm