THE RAGE OF JEALOUS TIME

BATAILLE 1

 

 

 

 

For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God [Exod XXXIV: 14].

For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God [DeutIV:24].

14. Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people whichare round about you.

15. (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the angerof the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from offthe face of the earth [Deut VI].

Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Surely in the fire of my jealousy have I spoken against the residue of the heathen [Ezek XXXVI:5].God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies [Nah 1:2].

 

Amongst the many partial anticipations of the modern thought of the transcendental in antiquity is the jealousy of Jahweh.

 

Extricated from its childish psychological constriction—its commensuration to a personal being—this is one of the few religious thoughts to be found in the history of Western monotheism. To refuse to share, to coexist, to tolerate equivalence; these things are ruthlessly divine. In comparison to Jahweh, the God of the Christians is a wheedler; a door to door salesman. It is true, nevertheless, that the genocidal frenzy with which Jahweh asserts his monopoly can disconcert. Squeamishness is not a charge one can fairly bring against him:

 

 1. When the Lord thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the mHittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou;

2. And when the Lord thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them:

3. Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son’ [Deut VII].

16. But of the cities of these people, which the Lord thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth:

17. But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee [Deut XX].

 

 

Jealousy is inextricable from paroxystic violence, historically rooted in national chauvinism, before being sublimed into the cosmological intolerance of a divinity. What does it matter who is instrument here? Whether God serves the annihilating designs of a tribe, or the tribe serves to purify the earth of alien gods? There is no antagonism at the origin, but rather a perfect pact between the election of the chosen people and the brutalsolitude of the unnameable One.

 

What the Jews never understood about this God (the Christians understood it even less of course) was the sovereignty of this jealous wrath. How could these feverish rages be subordinated to an end beyond themselves, to a mere persistence, as if God—too—was subject to inhibition? A God that held himself in check, submitting the splenetic extravagance of his moods to the exigency of being, would be something far less glorious than the sun (he would be humbled by a mediocre star). Each creature uselessly dispensing with its existence would outstrip his prodigality, deepening by a ratchet-notch his hatred for himself.

 

Could such a God glimpsing the impossible sovereignty of his fury—time opening as a dark shaft of impersonal loss—and, howling in utter loathing at the servility of self, restrain from scurrying to a squalid death on the cross?

 

 

God savours himself, says Eckhart. This is possible, but what he savours is, it seems to me, the hatred which he has for himself, to which none, here on Earth, can be compared (I could say: this hatred is time, but that bothers me. Why should I say time? I feel this hatred when I cry; I analysemnothing) [V 120].

Why should anyone be interested in time? I cannot imagine. The scrawniness of an arm, a finger, the enigma of a face; these things make sense (hurt). Time, on the contrary, is as vacant as a marriage, or God alone in the dark.

 

At the moment I seize myself in the mire of being, swamped by the detestation of ulterior ends, I AM GOD AND TIME LAUGHS AT THE ETERNAL PRETENTION OF SLAVES. ‘This God who leads us beneath his clouds is mad. I know him, I am him’ [III 39]. (Bataille recommends that one chant: ‘I represent myself covered in blood, broken but transfigured and at one with the world, at once like prey and like a tooth of TIME which kills incessantly and is incessantly killed’ [I 557–8].)

 

 

 

 

 

(Visited 34 times, 1 visits today)