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July 11, 2008



For another 'take' on, and sustained critique of, Heidegger and other modern philosophers, including Levinas and Nietzsche, see the first part of David Bentley Hart's "The Beauty of the Infinite" (section titled - 'the violence of metaphysics and the metaphysics of violence'). He argues that the Apollonian - 'the City' - and the Dionysian - 'the Waste' - are two faces of the same thing, while the Biblical revelation is something entirely different: neither Dionysian NOR Apollonian, it 'interrupts' the Greco-Roman philosophic tradition, which has been trying to evade or deny that 'interruption' ever since.

(For a poetic dramatisation of the same point, see Joseph Michael Stracszynski's epic TV space opera, Babylon 5, in particular, the climactic episode, 'Into the Fire': his two protagonists judge and reject both the Apollonian and the Dionysian; they choose and make manifest a third way which is neither. Then there is Peter Weir's Dead Poets Society..you will see in the foreground the tragic collision and mutual destruction of Dionysus and Apollo, a plot like Euripides' Bacchae; but woven through the film, like a little green 'exit' sign glowing off to one side in a darkened theatre, is the awareness of a different possibility, hinted at in the words of a girl in a lit doorway, and finally explicit when our attention is gently drawn to the 23rd Psalm, and Henry David Thoreau is replaced by King David).

Here is a very typical passage from Hart, in the section entitled 'Creation': "Dionysus is a god who cavorts among corpses, and thus affirms all things; the [Biblical] God who creates for his delight and out of love pursues his lost even into the depths of hell, and thus affirms all things.

'The play of Dionysus is nothing like the play of Wisdom before the throne of God; the latter rejoices in a gift that, once given, is desired back by the giver, which is to say, a true gift, a gift of boundless worth, given to the other, in trust that the other will respond."

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