Monday, 26 October 2009

Abraham and Isaac

Abraham and Isaac. Let me see if I've got this straight: the curious tangle of significance, the aporia, at the heart of this story goes something like this: God says to Abraham, 'you will be the patriarch at the head of a chosen people, and for this to come about you must show your obedience to me, God, by killing your first-born son, the very agent by which your descendents will come into being!' That has the look of a paradox about it, I suppose. Or at least, this is at the heart of Kierkegaard's 'absurdity/fidelity' thang, the knight-of-faith's suspension of normal ethical demands and possible futures for something strictly absurd ('kill your son to guarantee your son!'). Or I suppose what I'm actually talking about here is a more Zizekian gloss on K.

But the literalist in me thinks: couldn't you have another son, Abraham? (Or, indeed: don't you have any other sons?) Peasants understand the importance of having lots of sons. Maybe that's what God is trying to tell you: something the very opposite of absurd. 'Don't put all your posterity's eggs in one basket! What happens if Isaac falls under a camel train? Have more sons! Indeed, to ram this point home I'm going to insist that you eliminate Isaac from the picture yourself ... you see?'

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