top of page

Abyssus Abyssum Invocat: Part I

Abyss calls out to abyss.

Originally, it's a biblical term (Psalms 42:7). Christian hermeneutics does not often do justice with the original Hebrew phrase; for it is interpreted there as some "longing for God" or the inner depths within which the believer's mining operations machete-away at sinfulness and its organs (so as to remove the stain of sin from their souls).

But the early Jewish tradition - for all its incredible hermeneutic variety - sees this first as something like "trouble calls out to trouble"; almost a "when it rains it pours".

But only almost.

For here, its is not a matter of "it" vs. "me", but a me caught in an encounter of "it vs. it".

As usually happens when OT phrases are hammered onto the NT - following the principle of Christian pleroma (fulfillment of Jewish purpose) - something, usually something to do with doubt, trouble and/or hatred gets lost in translation. Sorry, I mean transsubstantiation.

I interpret it as an encounter, as a site of communication that will not conform to "dialog", nor to the "humilifying" posture of the 'mea maxima culpa' variety, and yet insist on the reciprocal aspect of the two abysses.

I see it as "my demons" - our drives, our repressions, anyway you want to call it (systemic injustices reside here as well) - communicating with "your demons" --

but they do so in darkness, behind out backs, using unintelligible calls our conscious mind cannot fully decipher, nor even recognize. The solution is neither to dispel the darkness through (more or less "divine") light, nor to implicate it, fold it deeper still into the abyss.

When you do that, in the first case you are deluding yourself that "light" is separate from "eye" - as if eye holds no abysses (hashtag porn/social media) -; and in the second case you use self- (and other-) shaming/guilt in order to make sure these ugly manifestations no longer manifest. Clean destiny, right up to...

...the Armageddon-esque fantasy of the Book of Revelations. There the abyss gives rise to many plagues that will sweep over the world as Sin is purged from it.

Ahhhh, sweet apocalypse, sweet release. Who could blame these pneumatic machines for whom any ex-pression is, fundamentally, a loss, an obstacle, a 'skandalon'? They long for that sweet release, that pressure valve finally yielding and guilt delivering on its secretive, insidious promises.

Today's no different, except now it's the entire mundus "qui tolle peccatta mundi." The good ol' localized Pogroms of faithful Catholics Europe - ah, the birthplace of that spontaneous spirit of genocide (genocide as Law is, to be fair, originally Jewish) - are today Protestantly outsourced to "individual" mass-shooters, and/or underpayed/undertrained police and "security" professionals. It's better that way. Can't blame the Pope, nor God, and now - not even yourself!

Ah, the semi-willful naivete of guilt: these "sin eaters" keep your demons in check.

As if that could take care of everything (and everyone!) we had to bury in order to live. For this Christian psyche, as Jewish psyche with a radical twist, if abyss calls out to abyss it must mean some inner dialectic of the Divine, something harmonized - or, more precisely, de-differentiated - in principle (the same pleroma principle).

It's a theater, you see: today's bullshit "social justice debate" tends to devolve to a fight about expressions: right expressions, wrong expressions, good monuments, bad monuments, whether a person proved "demonic" should be 'cancelled' (with all their expressions - artistic or otherwise - censored), or not...

Anything, just don't let the demons congregate, don't let them talk to each other. Either make them fully present here and now, let them have their way (kill inferior races, rape and exploit the weaker, that sort of thing), or make sure they forever "hold their peace" (i.e. stop talking).

Today's discursive climate, in social and political affairs (and a fortiori economic ones), leaps between these two poles; a kind of quantum leap that seems to pass through no medium, no middle; the "culture" that abysses the abyss even further:

On the one hand "good people" deplore such expressions of violence/darkness, while keeping their faith in a system that authorized precisely this dynamic (someone else expresses what you repress, you berate them, thus feeling better about yourself afterwards, and as a bonus get to keep your deeply-buried demons right there. Today they call this the "left". You can recognize it since they cannot operate in any other way than seek to eliminate demonic expressions, but otherwise have only fear and contempt towards their own (and others') demons.

And on the other hand, joining them in this two-step dance, are the "nationalist"/"alt-right" counterparts that would like - in a manner that is, indeed, more "honest", more direct - to personally and completely release all the valves, "give the demons free expression" as it were. Of course, what they think are their demons are concepts given them by the other camp - i.e. concepts of "white guilt" that are only "demonic" with regards to white/Christian "Go(o)d" - things that are so abstract they are easy to latch on to, an the expense of their sense: 'racism' (as if it were a "general thing" and not a Christian invention), 'sexism', 'xenophobia'...

This is still guilt erupting a reactionary tantrum against these (Christian) inner laws of shame. As Europe's history has shown us - when guilt was personified and not outsourced/privatized like today - guilt has no trouble with the duality of faith and evil eruptions. In fact, it is perhaps the only way a living being can cope with it. If I can maintain the abyss within myself; between the infinite love that "What Would Jesus Do" directs, and the murderous hatred that bids me kill a couple of Jews at night with some of my friends and giving my children a kiss in the morning as "me and the missus" wake them up to go to Sunday Mass.

So you see, it is a dance, and they like this dance; they prefer it to anything like an encounter with Otherness, a communicative encounter that is otherwise than silence/eruption/silence/eruption... One want to eliminate the trigger, the other wants to pull the trigger, and no one thinks that the real task is figuring out howhy this gun works. And perhaps some other construction might yield us a future (since today we see clearly that the existing gun aims to murder the entire planet).

An abyssal task? Yes. Interminable? Yes. But, unlike the repression-eruption dance described above, it has a future. Before explosion turns to implosion, invocative sparks fly out sometimes between our demons. We need to engage them there, there where the same God as followers that will murder one another in His Name, there where awareness of pain had not yet devolved into guilt.

But I want to look at this abyssal meeting, this invocation, as an ethical encounter. Not something to purloin and avert, not something that justifies more austerity and suffering on mine and others' part (i.e. more guilt), but a place where these cannot defend me any longer from the call of the Other.

I see 'the Other' as this resonance between two abysses.

This call speaks an unknown tongue; it vibrates. Deep calls to deep: neither privilege calling to oppression ("left"), and not oppression rising to privileged visibility ("right"), but a murky oppression calls to oppression. Nietzsche's "nobles" would not have, otherwise, breathed a word of moral valuation to the destitute ("malus") they feel no guilt towards, and barely take note of (Genealogy of Morals).

End of Part I.

In Part II I will give an actual real life example of what all this abstract gibberish could mean.

115 views0 comments
Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page