Zizek :: what humans will never know

Here is Slavoj Zizek’s answer to the question: What will human beings never know?

Do you find his answer at all plausible, or does he obscure and deny knowledge that we ought to have confidence in (gaining)? Do you think that the creation he describes might still be called good? Does such a vision of creation undercut or inspire wonder, awe, and reverence?

I see a connection in Zizek’s thought here with the conviction of Augustine and other early Christian authors that the being of creation is essentially derivative and incomplete, and all the more so when any creature turns away from God. Things are most real when they exist according to the manner in which God fully delights in their existence. The slippage and gaps (what Zizek here calls “blurriness”) that we experience in reality can be attributed to our own fallen psychology (a divide between our minds and creation “as God intended”), but might also at a deeper level be attributed to the derivative being of creation itself.

At any rate, I’m more and more interested these days in the points of incomprehensibility in creation—not at all in the rather facile sense that these unexplainable bits are stumbling blocks to science and proofs of God’s existence or activity—but in the sense that fractures and incompleteness seem to be an inexorable part of human life, and even Spirit-filled redeemed life. Paying attention to the points at which orders and systems break down or turn absurd is perhaps the best way to understand what is “normal” within those systems and orders.

If I were to sketch out this thought trajectory, it might run something like this: We search in vain for the site of total satisfaction, total fulness, totally saturated presence. There is a hole in creation that pierces the very core of human subjectivity. We could call it a God-shaped hole, if God had a shape, or if this fundamental lack pointed in a straightforward manner to God—but at minimum, its not obvious to everyone that it does point to God (or which god, for that matter). The interminable “blurriness” of creation, of our own selves, of each other, and most of all of God, persists even amidst the conviction that God has broken into history. Christian faith is actually nourished by this hole insofar as it is an inexhaustible source of desire; hope stretches out into this abyss on the conviction that God has been intensively present in Jesus, and will again be extensively present through the work of the Spirit already in-process. So, in some quiet manner, God accompanies creatures in and through a creation that remains incomplete—that very incompleteness the cause of a desire that stretches out and clings to grace where it is (made) capable of recognizing it.

h/t: Verso

5 Replies to “Zizek :: what humans will never know”

  1. Man, you gotta love Zizek when he uses analogies like this. I am prone to agree with it, but even if I didnt I have to respect the incisiveness of the observation.

  2. Eric,
    have you heard of John Polkinghorne? He is a quantum physicist turned Anglican priest. I listened to a nice podcast with him called “Quarks and Creation.” The first half is good but nothing spectacular and in the second half he really starts getting into some of the stuff you are discussing above. I think he terms “blurriness” in a strikingly similar manner as Zizek by using the phrase “cloudy parts”. I was especially fascinated when he started discussing the determinative free will of things like tectonic plates. Anyway, here is the link in case you are interested.

    http://download.publicradio.org/podcast/speakingoffaith/20080529_quarks_uc-polkinghorne.mp3?_kip_ipx=2127579349-1264438782

    1. Indeed, Polkinghorne is great! He’s edited a book called “Work of Love” which is one of the best genuine engagements of theology and science I’ve ever read. He also heads up an organization in the UK that is called something like the “Society of Ordained Scientists,” which sounds like an interesting bunch!

      Thanks for the link.

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