Trials: Of Antigone and Jesus

Trials: Of Antigone and Jesus

Trials: Of Antigone and Jesus

Trials: Of Antigone and Jesus

Synopsis

What does it mean to be called "human"? How does this affect or effect what it means to be called "divine"? This book responds to these questions in intertwined explorations of the passionate trials of Antigone and Jesus. Impelled by her love of the impossible, Antigone crosses uncrossable boundaries, confounds distinctions of nature and culture, and unearths and critiques the sexism implicit in humanism. The mode of humanity she develops offers a new way of considering Jesus. Through aclose reading of Mark's gospel focused on Jesus' cry of abandonment from the cross, the author shows that to refigure humanity is also to refigure divinity and their relation. In the first extended treatment of Nancy's Corpus in English, the author proposes an innovative account of Jesus' humanity and divinity - one that can contribute to religious understandings of embodiment and prayer and can open avenues of inquiry into tragedy, sexual difference, posthumanism, and politics.

Excerpt

Tragedy crosses the line. It is excessive; it goes too far; that is what makes it tragic. Tragedy is not tragic simply because someone or something dies but because someone or something steps across a border and, in doing so, breaches a boundary believed to be unbreachable. Someone or something exceeds an established limit. Therein lies the tragedy.

Tragedy thus puts on trial limits and limitations, particularly those that demarcate the bounds of human life. Tragedy probes the edges of humanity, there where humanity confronts its limits, on the border of possibility and impossibility. For mortal humanity, this border demarcates life and death, the possibility and impossibility of embodied existence and experience. Here tragedy's affinity with death emerges: death represents the other side of embodied human life, which for life remains impossible except via rupture and trespass. Tragedy represents trespass, motivated by excess that pushes human life beyond its limits. In this way, tragedy figures itself as an aporetic question: in Jacques Derrida's words, “what is it, then, to cross this ultimate border [qu 'est-ce alors que franchir cette frontière de l'ultime]?” This becomes the tragic question, to which only someone excessive, someone who has crossed this border, can reply.

Antigone is that someone par excellence. If tragedy is a question of pushing on and through ultimate limits, Antigone positions herself as a consummate responder, for Antigone is excessive. She embodies and performs the tragic movement of going too far, of crossing uncrossable borders—including the “ultimate border” demarcating life and death.

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