Sex is Divine: Zizek, Jayadeva and the radicality of Incarnation

Jayadeva

When the falsely innocent Christlike figure of pure suffering and sacrifice for oursake tells us: “I want nothing from you!” fails miserably – we should not forget that these are the exact words used by the Priest to designate the court in Kafka’s Trial: “The court wants nothing from you.”  When the falsely innocent Christlike figure of pure suffering and sacrifice for our sake tells us: “I don’t want anything from you!,” we can be sure that this statement conceals a qualification “…except your very soul.”  When somebody insists that he wants nothing that we have, it simply means that he has his eye on what we are, on the very core of our being.

 

Wondrous dwarf, when you cheat demon Bali with side steps

Water falls from your lotus toenails to purify creatures.

You take form as a Dwarf, Krishna.

Triumph, Hari, Lord of the World.

 

The incarnation is the perverse core of Christianity and the perverse core of the perverted god’s that desire the absolution of a person for the sake of their own divine egos.  The incarnation has historically been the doctrine of the divine overtaking the human form in the person of Jesus and using this medium to exact divine revenge and quench the thirst for the apparent ontological masochistic necessity that the God of the Bible seems to display.  What sort of God is this that takes over our way of being, the form of our human flesh, and uses it to appease his own ineptitude of not securing a tree in the Garden that would not be violated?  Could we not have saved our flesh had this God not created this obvious temptation?  This is what a pervert does and this is the practice of perversion.  The pervert sacrifices the innocence of another person in order to gain something from them, typically sexually.

Sex and violence have always been partners.  How useful is a doctrine of the incarnation if it is continually used to reinforce a theology of perversion and furthermore place the object that it sacrifices, humanity, into
the debt of the God that asks for the sacrifice?

This is the string that is attached.  Christ has died, and in this required death, we are in debt, even though God does not need our currency.  If this is the case, than why require the currency of flesh?  Sigmund Freud was right, we do owe death a debt.  Only the debt we owe, as so finely articulated by Zizek above, is the debt of our being, our flesh, because the Christ figure has given us his being, his flesh.  There must be an alternative way.  The divine has always been playing games that have not limited their play to the fertile crescent.  Jayadeva also plays similar games of violation and psychologically twisted debtful obligation.

I will argue below that by reading the incarnation through the work of Zizek and Jayadeva, one is left with the incarnation as a sexual ethic that is embodied between two people.

Zizek argues for the end of the incarnation as a transcendent referent and for a more embodied discourse that takes on the Pauline insistence of ethical living.  Jayadeva makes very clear that the incarnation is the articulation encounter one has had with the Big Other (read God) that typically occurs under the auspices of a sexual encounter.  While the encounter that Jayadeva describes is thoroughgoing sexual, one needs to penetrate beneath the sexuality to the core that pushes the encounter to occur in the first place.  This is known as the drive or Freud’s Trieb, even though this methodology may be a trifle anachronistic (we all read from somewhere).

The trieb is not only the locale that cannot be localized, it is also the thing deep within oneself that longs for the fulfillment and rest that can only occur, according to Jayadeva, in the encounter with Hari.  When the trieb is left empty, it is sorrowful and lacking.  It is the mourning Rada.  The body demonstrates outward signs of mourning, until the Divine, or Hari, once again comes home from wandering and offers a temporary place of rest.  Then the ankle bracelets may resume their ringing, though briefly.

Jayadeva unmistakably articulates the necessity of sexuality for human being/becoming in relation to the divine, particularly as that experience that is best known as jouissance, or painfully pleasurable arrival…or what most Christians call heaven.  Thus, the incarnation is a sexual ethic that is to be lived between people, between two subjects that might not know one another exist.  This is evident in the amount of failed relationships that occur, not because love and sexuality is not present, but because an incarnated sexual ethic is not embodied.  If Jayadeva were writing/righting today, perhaps he would suggest that the only Big Other (read Lacanian sense of Other that is not oneself i.e., structure of language, trauma, or the feminine) that is left is the other of the person.

For Zizek, questions of divine culpability go to the heart of the Christian God.[3]  For this reason, Zizek argues for a radically different approach to a doctrine of the incarnation than may be found in Athanasius’ De Incarnatione.  Zizek spots the perverse core of Christianity, and in so doing the pervert Christianity historically calls God, and calls for the forging of a new direction not located in transcendence.  For Zizek, the incarnation is not a statement about the importance of transcendence, but a statement about the importance of the body, the immanent reality of living people caught in living structures of truth seeking and fulfillment.  God needs the world and drains transcendence in the process.  Jesus, known as the Christ, is the desublimation of the transcendent God of Judaism.  Judaism could never bring God to where it was/is, thus it negated any sort of anthropomorphic identity to the Supreme Creator.  Zizek argues that this negation of anthromorphic concepts, however, necessarily places Judaism on the road to making God man, on the road to Christianity.

Zizek describes it thus,

“it is the Jewish religion which remains an “abstract/immediate” negation of anthropomorphism, and as such, attached to, determined by it in its very negation, whereas it is only Christianity that effectively “sublates” paganism.  The Christian stance is here: instead of prohibiting the image of God, why not, precisely, allow it, and thus render him as JUST ANOTHER HUMAN BEING, as a miserable man indiscernible from other humans with regard to his intrinsic properties?”

For Zizek, what occurs in the incarnation is not the propitiation of sins in the form of a human being or the restoration of the divine image that was lost at the fall, but the handing over of the world to humans.

When Christianity asserts that the divine THING has come in/as Jesus of Nazareth, the THING that is beyond, known as God, is shown to be absent because Jesus is present.  Zizek interprets Jesus as a figure within the symbolic order or the drive/thing/law schemata, wherein the drive toward rest is always directed toward the thing that is supposed to give rest, i.e., God, but such rest is always prohibited from fully resting because of the prohibitions from the Law separate a person from the THING or destination.  Jesus, however, traverses the Law and makes the divine present and therein ends transcendence.  He makes the destination of the drive apprehensible, thus offering a place of rest and an end to the excess of sin that is produced in seeking the relationship with the divine via attempts at becoming divine.

This means that the event of the Christ is not an event that brings one into relationship with the BIG OTHER God.  Christ does not do our work for us and pay our debt through his divine threshold of pain.  Rather, the incarnation, the coming of God to humanity, the shrinking of transcendence, is the event that gives us the chance to be free from our excessive quests for the unattainable THING, God, for in Jesus, says Christianity, God is with us.

Yet, Zizek writes, “Christ is not the contingent material embodiment of the superasensible God: his “divine” dimension is reduced to the aura of pure Schein.”

The Incarnation, therefore, is a statement about the end of transcendence into immanent transcendence in the Christ figure, Jesus.  Jesus as the incarnation is not the living apprehension of an ontological other, but the dismissal of that Other and the freeing of humanity from its haunting and obsessive quests toward something else.  In turn, Zizek argues, this freedom from the excess of looking for the THING that is present in Jesus allows a person to love and act ethically.

What is most important in the incarnation, therefore, is the possibility to embody agape and to act in loving ways toward the opposite sex, abolishing all sexual barriers.  The power of the incarnation to release one from metaphysical whims produces a reality wherein there is no Jew, nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.  No wonder the “Christ was a traumatic scandal.”

Zizek offers readers an alternative reading of the incarnation.  In so doing, he offers readers a different kind of incarnation resulting in the adaptation of an ethic of agape that destabilizes dominant worldviews and begins a constructive theology.  The incarnation is the event that makes true ethical behavior possible because God is (us) with us.  Jayadeva will finalize this embodiment for us.

While Zizek and Jayadeva could be juxtaposed,  together they provide a coherent synthesis and ground upon which incarnation can be expanded to the embodiment of a sexual ethic.

This essay began with the quote, “You take form as a Dwarf, Krishna.”

Krishna, like Jesus, is an embodiment of something.  Both are individuals that come from elsewhere.  Both are individuals that interact with humans and seek to satisfy the excess of the human quest for the place from which Krishna and Jesus come.  Krishna is the coming of the THING.  Unlike much of Christian tradition that places a Law between the THING and the person, Jayadeva is the wall effacer.  There are no restrictions in Jayadeva that could prohibit the person from experiencing the THING of God, except God’s wandering ways and lustful lies.  Jayadeva wants to make St. Teresa’s “coming” a reality, but in so doing one realizes that one cannot really “come” because Hari is never always there, he is always already never there when he is there.

 

When Hari and Rada are together, their experience is beatific and mystical, yet, it is one that does not last.  It leaves both Rada, and Hari (even erstwhile he is promiscuous) wanting for more.  If they had found fulfillment in one another, then the trieb of Hari would be of no consequence.  One cannot help but notice as the poem moves that Hari must be dreaming of others, which he does in fact pursue, “The wondrous mystery of Krishna’s sexual play in Brindaban forest IS Jayadeva’s song.  Let its celebration spread Krishna’s favors.  At the end, however, Krishna exclaims, “Glance at me and end my passion’s despair.”

The poem may be read as the story of unquenchable desire that simply exhausts the ability of the other to end passion whatsoever, particularly the passion of the god’s.  Who/what, after all, can quench a divine libido?

Therefore, one is left with an incarnation of Jayadeva as linguistic explanation after the encounter one has with God or one can argue that the incarnation is the ethic that is not expressed in Jayadeva, thus reading against the texts sexual obtuseness, while at the same time reading with it.  If the incarnation allows for a real ethic, as proclaimed by Zizek, this ethic must look different than is described in Jayadeva, particularly in that Zizek challenges Jayadeva’s insistence on questing after the suppression of passion by attaining the THING, Krishna, God, one’s rest!

If Jesus as incarnation is the power to free one from the excess of trauma, than what does this say about being free from the traumatic effects of the relationships the gods have with people, particularly Rhada?

Reading Zizek alongside of Jayadeva indicts the Gitogavinda for its sexual hierarchy, yet it does locate the place of heaven and incarnation as being between two peoples in sexual encounter.  The sexual encounter is brief and simply complex, but the insistence on its placement in the development of Krishna as a God, and Rhada as the subject receiving the impalement, testifies to the inability to fully describe a REAL sexual encounter, one that is ethically responsible and fulfilling for both parties regardless of the passions that are quenched.  The dialectic is that the moment initiates more moments in hopes of finding the real one.  Rhada and Krisha fall together, they fall apart and then back together again, but they never arrive.  Zizek, however, suggests that this arrival is already here making the journey null and void.

 

 

 

 

 

Antiques and the Refuse of Capitalism

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A serene sense of dread floods my mind when I peruse the garbage dumps of late capitalism: antique stores.

While many folks peruse the aisle and “booths” of a bygone era and admire the musty, dusty, smell, all I see is a bunch of old stuff that no one else wants…not even the owners of the stuff who rented the booths.  Erstwhile, the joke is on us “shoppers” looking for ways to elevate the National PCE % (Personal Consumption Expenditure) amidst the rubble and refuse of old stuff, stuff not even the owners want to own any longer.

People, consumers, we wade through the refuse of people long gone, passed on to folks trying to peddle their garbage off on others, and we think how “cool” or how “rare” it would be to own this piece of no longer useful material.  Perhaps we can purchase it, set it on the shelf, and admire that we are its new owners: new owners of garbage that will one day be someone else’s after we are gone.

This is the reality that has no given way to the myth, the latter no longer having a firm grip on my understanding of the former.

As a kid, I used to think that antique stores were places that contained deposits of value. Goods that were precious and items that were not to be touched by little fingers who could not consider their real price or worth.  After all, the sign on the glass cabinet did say “DO NOT TOUCH.”  Whatever was behind it must be obsolescently valuable.  Furniture, books, pictures, photos, knives, coins, broaches, etc., are now defined as purposeful and worth the value on their tag because they are old and old means it transcends our present and also its own past.  What used to be considered miniaturized monuments of bygone era are now the relics of my recent past: hello 1985.

Certainly not all “antiques” have just arrived at the antique label.  Some really are “antiques,” memorials to a unique human story that all humans will leave.

My own antique fetish is books.  I love old books, for their stories, their design, and their content that needs to be resurrected.  But even as I love and appreciate old bindings and paper innards, permeated with evanescent ideas only the most stubborn will discover, I acknowledge this is a fetish and the left-over of the productive processes of our economic engine.  For at the end of the day, when the world is replete with books, or things, or “nick nacks,” to what shall we turn them into that might be of value and redeem the castration of resources that had to occur for their very own production?  As we are all on our journey toward a global Easter Island I wonder what it is we will do with all the things our hands have made when our hands desire to no longer make things and we have read all the books that are can read.

Such existential angst hits me even as I enter a strip mall just looking for “useful” “antique” décor to reside in my home.  Perhaps I remain in denial that such thoughts will eventually only lead to nihilism or perhaps I have simply let nihilism take up permanent residence.

Walking through the antique store, moving vendor to vender, I came around the corner and discovered that those ugly plastic super hero thermoses that I used to use when I was 7 are now “antique” chemical composites of value.  I’m thinking “seriously…people think someone else wants to buy this?”

The old NASCAR collectibles I purchased back in 1992, over 20 years ago, are now appearing on shelves beside Martha Washington sewing cabinets…time being the great equalizer.  We know who we are by the company we keep and I suppose we know the value of our things by the things we store beside them.  Sorry Martha.

I even saw the Tin Care Bear lunch box my kindergarten sweetheart used to carry to school is now one shelf below 160 year old blue Mason Jars that could have been used to can food for Robert E. Lee’s army.

Something just felt off.

Herein lays the refuse of capitalism…of production that was productive for a period and made things with purpose, yet now there is no repurposing of these things.  All we can do is hope to sell them to someone who might place value upon them because society no longer values these things.  These were produced for them; we will produce things for us.  And what is not appropriated into the present is just refuse, garbage, resources that are now not so resourceful.

The World is our Garbage Dump because we have turned the world into our garbage.

Of course this is a coarse way to view the world and view productivity.  We do not want to think of ourselves as wasteful or manipulative of resources.  We do not want to think of our actions over the long arc of history, our communal human actions, as having a negative impact on the world.  We don’t want to think that humans before us have simply amassed mountains of plastic, iron and glass that is now buried in the ground or left to live immortally in “antique” stores or warehouses where their “value” can be preserved by transient humans.

If we call it antique, it makes us feel better.  Even what we produce today will one day be called antique; our consumptive needs justifying the productive ends of our irrational economic activity.

The leftovers become refuse and the refuse ends up being the old stuff we find in antique stores…the refuse explosion has only just begun I’m afraid.

Now, I am not a big Adam Smith fan.  Regardless of how we appraise his work, my estimation is that Smith was not a modern day venture/vulture capitalist.  He sincerely believed that markets, services, production, consumption, labor, etc., would occur as human sustenance demanded particular economic trajectories.  I do not think he foresaw the wastefulness of mass production for the teleological purpose of profit at all costs, even at the cost of human community.  The sheer scale of our global economy absolves Smith to a degree, even if logically his economics would lead to the unabated “invisible hand” that is now visibly manipulated by government and regulatory body’s.

Simply put: in our economy we make far more than we need and we think the world is the everlasting depository of that production.  We isolate markets for niche products, produce them to the furthest exponent and then sell them to all those looking to fill the emotional needs no longer being filled by a community of other humans.  We create desire by exacerbating the lack in others via our marketing.  We know the lack is there, world religions have know the lack is there for millennia, so now the secular capitalist mantra is to take advantage of that lack and fill it with fetishes of various stripes that will satiate the desire of our hearts while also leaving us feeling emptier than before.  This tension is felt by folks who “feel” like the lack they have will be satisfied in the act of consumption, so we produce and consume, produce and consume, produce and consume.  It’s why capitalism is so brilliant; It preys on our inherent need.

But the stoking of human emotion is not the only seed of this futile and wasteful production.

The other is our inherent desire to be creative and productive creatures.  We want to be able to survive but survive in meaningful ways.  Many times this meaning is derived from what we are able to generate or produce.  It provides us with a sense of worth and fulfillment, even if the consequences of our self-esteem could have national or globally negative consequences.  We isolate needs, find resources that can fill those (or we even create the need and then give people the resources we say they need for that need), produce them and feel accomplished from the valueless paper (money) we receive in exchange for them.  It’s a vicious cycle.

The problem with continuing to find our worth and value around our economic models, capitalism in particular, is that this cannot be sustained forever.  It is a finite impossibility.  We cannot continue to make refuse and chalk it up to human activity, leftovers, garbage.

First, the garbage has to have somewhere to go.  The world can only sustain so many antique stores.

But secondly, and more importantly, for capitalism to work on its continued skewed trajectory, we face major obstacles of capital flow (and capital here can be the things that are refuse, garbage aka products or even current money looking for an investment home, etc.)  Economic theory aside here’s the problem: capital only exists as it is able to flow and find new depositories and the places into which capital can flow are finite because the world is not infinite.  In other words, capital has to keep flowing: newer markets, people, places, countries, ideas, needs, demands, etc., but as developing nations become developed and as the resources to meet those developments continually become tapped, we face a major obstacle: capital hits a dead end.  It has nowhere else to go.

What happens when capital flow hits the Hoover Dam of economic expansion?

For example, David Harvey powerfully argues that measuring economic success and growth against annual GDP % is a huge mistaken.  First, it is commonly held that 3% growth via GDP supports a healthy economy.  3% is an arbitrary % established whereby economists “know” that the world, and specific countries, are producing a particular level of goods being consumed or being brought to market.  At 3%, it is deemed the economy is healthy and jobs are being produced.  But the problem is that 3% never stays 3%.  As the economy grows or expands that number becomes a compounded number, so that the real measure of growth is a compounded 3% year over year on the entire US economy!  Which means that for our economy to “move” or be “healthy” we have to grow our economy year over year to roughly the size of the ENTIRE US economy in 1970 each year and even further!  And that number just keeps getting bigger.  For us to remain “healthy” politicians incite these numbers as if they are manageable, but the reality is this can only continue to compound so long as capital has a place to go, which is why invisible money was created.  Invisible money, or money that doesn’t exist, allows capital to continually flow and consumption not immediately halt at the very unfortunate event of not having any actual money.

Thus, compounded production and consumption is actually encouraged via the capitalism at work in our present.  For those apologists of capitalism that want to argue its virtues I concur there are several, but these virtues do not change the coming dawn of late capitalism wherein we find ourselves up against the creation of antique malls, ever growing landfills, entire islands in the ocean known as garbage island, and capital overextending itself into non-existence, it’s very life being its very eventual contradiction.

Slavoj Zizek, cultural theorist and critic of the both Left and Right political movements, summarized the inherent contradiction of capitalism and production in his essay “The Prospects of Radical Politics Today.”  Writing on capitalism, its productive nature and critiquing Karl Marx  he says the following:

“What Marx overlooked is that, to put it in the standard Derridean terms, this inherent obstacle/antagonism as the “condi­tion of impossibility” of the full deployment of the productive forces [of capitalism] is simulta­neously its “condition of possibility”: if we abolish the obstacle, the inherent contradiction of capitalism, we do not get the fully unleashed drive to produc­tivity finally delivered of its impediment, but we lose precisely this productivity that seemed to be generated and simultaneously thwarted by capitalism – if we take away the obstacle, the very potential thwarted by this obstacle dissipates … Therein would reside a possible Lacanian critique of Marx, focusing on the ambiguous overlapping between surplus-value and surplus-enjoyment. (It is often said that the ultimate products of capitalism are piles of trash – useless computers, cars, TVs, and VCRs : places like the famous “graveyard” of hun­dreds of abandoned planes in the Mojave desert confront us with the obverse truth of capitalist dynamics, its inert objectal remainder. And it is against this background that one should read the ecological dream-notion of total recycling – in which every remainder is used again – as the ultimate capitalist dream, even if it is couched in the terms of retaining the natural balance on Planet Earth: the dream of the self-propelling circulation of capital which would succeed in leav­ing behind no material residue – the proof of how capitalism can appropriate ideologies which seem to oppose it.)

Capitalism Enjoy

What Zizek touches on here is that there is no way around the remainder of capitalism.  If we challenge capitalism at its core as a productive force (the very thing about it that is good) then we cease to have capitalism in its raw form and productivity ad infinitum.  Precisely because it is impossible for capitalism to produce enough is why it continues to produce what is possible: it’s own limits being its own drive and failure.  This is where Zizek says Marx missed it: take away the productive drive and the demon you are attempting to exorcise ceases to exist and so too does any economic will.  The notions of surplus value in things and surplus enjoyment have to go hand in hand via production and consumption because desire always creates abject remainder…and if there is a Lacanian dictum it is thus: Desire is Real.

But the negative consequences of the impossible possibility is refuse and production unabated and continual.  Heaps of garbage that we absolve as antiques or recast into a narrative of continual repurpose wherein all things are recycled and nothing is lost or damaged:  The capitalist dream.

The only question is: as you drive by rising man made mountains along interstates and you see your own closets…as you incarnate the 4.6lbs of trash you produce as a human each day and you realize that there are 8 Billion people on the planet doing the same…you have to ask yourself…can we afford to continue to have this dream or should we start dreaming something else for the sake of posterity?

Because one day we will all be forced to wake up.

Zizek reads the Bible: Thoughts on Incarnation

nietzsche quote/

The incarnation is the perverse core of Christianity and the perverse core of the perverted god’s that desire the absolution of a person for the sake of their own divine egos.

When the falsely innocent Christlike figure of pure suffering and sacrifice for our sake tells us: “I want nothing from you!” fails miserably – we should not forget that these are the exact words used by the Priest to designate the court in Kafka’s Trial: “The court wants nothing from you.” When the falsely innocent Christlike figure of pure suffering and sacrifice for our sake tells us: “I don’t want anything from you!,” we can be sure that this statement conceals a qualification “…except your very soul.” When somebody insists that he wants nothing that we have, it simply means that he has his eye on what we are, on the very core of our being. (The Puppet and the Dwarf, 170).

The incarnation has historically been the doctrine of the divine overtaking the human form in the person of Jesus and using this medium to exact divine revenge and quench the thirst for the apparent ontological masochistic necessity that the God of the Bible seems to display. The recent History Channel Series on the Bible shows at least this much…but let’s ask a few questions:

What sort of God is this that takes over our way of being, the form of our human flesh, and uses it to appease his own ineptitude of not securing a tree in the Garden that would not be violated?

Could we not have saved our flesh had this God not created this obvious temptation?
This is what a pervert does and this is the practice of perversion. The pervert sacrifices the innocence of another person in order to gain something from them, typically sexually. Sex and violence have always been partners, even when it comes to ideas of salvation.

How useful is a doctrine of the incarnation if it is continually used to reinforce a theology of perversion and furthermore place the object that it sacrifices, humanity, into the debt of the God that asks for the sacrifice, while simultaneously setting it up? This is the string that is attached. Christ has died, and in this required death, we are in debt, even though God does not need our currency.

If this is the case, than why require the currency of flesh? Sigmund Freud was right, we do owe death a debt. Only the debt we owe, as so finely articulated by Zizek above, is the debt of our being, our flesh, because the Christ figure has given us his being, his flesh. There must be an alternative way.

For Zizek, questions of divine culpability go to the heart of the Christian God.

Zizek writes, “God as omnipotent is a perverse subject who plays obscene games with humanity and His own son: he creates suffering, sin and imperfection, so that He can intervene and resolve the mess He created, thereby securing for himself the eternal gratitude of the human race.” He later asks, “For which authority above Himself – is God himself forced to sacrifice his son?” (The Fragile Absolute, 157-158). For this reason, Zizek argues for a radically different approach to a doctrine of the incarnation than may be found in Athanasius’ De Incarnatione. Zizek spots the perverse core of Christianity, and in so doing the pervert Christianity historically calls God, and calls for the forging of a new direction not located in transcendence.

Zizek’s questions are strikingly difficult, emotionally stressful and piously challenging…yet the questions remain despite our incessant need to hide behind the pages of scripture that actually raise these questions through an honest reading of text.

For Zizek, the incarnation is not a statement about the importance of transcendence, but a statement about the importance of the body, the immanent reality of living people caught in living structures of truth seeking and fulfillment. God needs the world and drains transcendence in the process. Jesus, known as the Christ, is the desublimation of the transcendent God of Judaism. Judaism could never bring God to where it was/is, thus it negated any sort of anthropomorphic identity to the Supreme Creator. Zizek argues that this negation of anthromorphic concepts, however, necessarily places Judaism on the road to making God man, on the road to Christianity.

Zizek describes it thus,
“it is the Jewish religion which remains an “abstract/immediate” negation of anthropomorphism, and as such, attached to, determined by it in its very negation, whereas it is only Christianity that effectively “sublates” paganism. The Christian stance is here: instead of prohibiting the image of God, why not, precisely, allow it, and thus render him as JUST ANOTHER HUMAN BEING, as a miserable man indiscernible from other humans with regard to his intrinsic properties?” (The Fragile Absolute)

For Zizek, what occurs in the incarnation is not the propitiation of sins in the form of a human being or the restoration of the divine image that was lost at the fall (contra St. Athanasius) but the handing over of the world to humans. When Christianity asserts that the divine THING has come in/as Jesus of Nazareth, the THING that is beyond, known as God, is shown to be absent because Jesus is present.

Zizek interprets Jesus as a figure within the symbolic order or the drive/thing/law schemata, wherein the drive toward rest is always directed toward the thing that is supposed to give rest, i.e., God, but such rest is always prohibited from fully resting because of the prohibitions from the Law separate a person from the THING or destination. Jesus, however, traverses the Law and makes the divine present and therein ends transcendence. He makes the destination of the drive apprehensible, thus offering a place of rest and an end to the excess of sin that is produced in seeking the relationship with the divine via attempts at becoming divine. This means that the event of the Christ is not an event that brings one into relationship with the BIG OTHER God. Christ does not do our work for us and pay our debt through his divine threshold of pain. Rather, the incarnation, the coming of God to humanity, is the shrinking of transcendence, is the event that gives us the chance to be free from our excessive quests for the unattainable THING, God, for in Jesus, says Christianity, God is with us.

Zizek writes, “Christ is not the contingent material embodiment of the supra-sensible God: his “divine” dimension is reduced to the aura of pure Schein.” (On Belief 95).

The Incarnation, therefore, is a statement about the end of transcendence into immanent descendence in the Christ figure, Jesus. Jesus, as the incarnation, is not the living apprehension of an ontological other but the dismissal of that Other and the freeing of humanity from its haunting and obsessive quests toward something else. Zizek is basically arguing that freedom from the excess of looking for the THING (God) that is present in Jesus allows a person to love and act ethically. When we are no longer looking for the BIG OTHER, we are free to look at one another as Christ does his disciples. What is most important in the incarnation, therefore, is the possibility to embody agape and to act in loving ways toward others. The power of the incarnation to release one from metaphysical whims and produce a reality wherein there is no Jew, nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. No wonder the “Christ was a traumatic scandal.” (The Fragile Absolute)

In reading the incarnation as such, Zizek offers readers an alternative reading of this important theological concept. He offers readers a different kind of incarnation resulting in the adaptation of an ethic of agape that destabilizes dominant worldviews and begins a constructive theology. The incarnation is the event that makes true ethical behavior possible because God is with us…and for Zizek we are therefore released from God. Perhaps the mystics were right. The only prayer we should fully pray is “God rid me of God” so that I can be released to myself and the world…Just as Christ was so released into humanity.