The word ‘culture’ attends an intuitive simplicity that any endeavor to define it immediately belies; our attempts begin confidently but soon sputter out — our definitions always rely on series of ellipses.
What follows ought to sputter, and those places it does not only betray some linguistic trick or other on my part. What follows is a series of tricks:
א. Facets of the Culture-Machine: Groundwork
Culture consists of beliefs, habits, and actions, but not so simply. Culture is the germinal matrix of lived existence, constituted by those experiential causal chains of behavior reproduced into and by its repetition into difference. Culture is a lab-culture dropped in a swamp — watch it swell or die or find pockets of stasis.
A belief: in a God, and in what type of a God; in a form of life, in its virtue; in other forms of life, in their vice; in a sort of world, and in an expectation of one's lot in it; in sorts of people, and assumptions about those sorts.
Belief influences practice, not as an arrow with a point at one end and a particular heading fixed to its singular trajectory, but as a boomerang on a rope, looping to stretch attachments, binding tight in haecceitic superposition. Assumption goes viral, a social gene, vicious in its bid for progenation. Schoolteachers, like siblings, deliver bacterial payloads at critical velocity, sweeping generalizations as discursive-symbolic data packets, concepts luring toward a unifying delusion. That is to say: belief is a feeling, and it is a contagious mode of feeling-with which produces something called community, an in-group. Those concepts which hold us in fidelity lure us into a “feeling of wholeness or togetherness in experience that aims at the continuation of order, but with greater intensity,”1 a transcendental expansion into the relief of deindividuation which belief and belonging so graciously offer us. Belief proceeds along aesthetic corridors as myth-building gets to work; appealing narratives gently envelop the dispersed warmth of pulsing ego and guide you inward and down — unless shaken out, hard. Societal de factos set out the firm (but permeable) limits to the range of belief, lately deterritorializing mores and reterritorializing belief systems into alignment with the point-of-sale ethos. So Christianity becomes the plaything of Mammon-possessed Kenneth Copeland types, while Judaism flounders in the deep waters of “compassionate liberalism” which coos while it pilfers. Buddhism is battered at import and becomes a thousand pewter figurines sold in a head shop built on the site of a bombed-out rowhome. Pilgrims who raise their heads from supplication at the Kaaba are treated with the sight of the grand Pullman ZamZam Hotel, gaudy with decadence. The anti-burgher counterrevolution waged by (largely) Abrahamic traditionalism is soundly beaten, and little has risen in its place.
Belief, flowing from the successful mobilization of psychic lures, has the potential to be changed as those lures recapitulate and redeploy. Belief, in its changing, mobilizes metanoia, an affective process operating at the register of aesthetic experience which effects a radical cognitive reorganization, a comprehensive transformation of one’s mode of seeing, of making-meaning of the sensorial — a 'change of mind' which nevertheless retains a trace, a history, a preservation of the old within the new. QAnon, taken as a metanoic phenomenon, is such an example, in which a linguistic-aesthetic mobilization of libidinal lures at the level of the political transforms one’s social sensibility at the same time as it preserves traces of the old conservatism which gave it rise within its fundament. Propositions which realign one’s felt relation to symbolic connections can be metanoic, neuro-symbolic fissures clinching at the extreme limits of the affective process; a form of experience which cracks open new apprehensions of relationships between parts, objects, bodies — words, deaths, roles, gods. Every revolution in personal or collective symbolism, in belief, is a metanoic process which harnesses, redirects, and accelerates existing or potential momentum. All potential, political or otherwise, resides in belief, which realizes itself in and does not exist beyond practice and action — that is, all potential resides in movement, the simultaneously ultimate and original stage of the symbolic process.
A practice: rituals — hygienic behaviors, variance of dress in context, toasts, shoe-etiquette, hand gestures, language, routines of mourning and morning, food cultivation and preparation — which imbibe the nihilistic stuff of phenomenal life with meaning. Practice is and instigates ritual, repeated action generative of belief through movement. Habituation turns belief into an activity, something felt and held below and above all else, it orients behavior and reaction, and, ultimately, it produces epistemic force, it instigates symbolic-discursive truth. Habit-ritual discloses an individual within its setting, its societal environ. One is implicated into a social relation, a sea charted by communalization, with no more powerful or convenient or useless tool than language, that directed flow of hopeless intention, directed not by any one, but by its own dao, its inevitably immanent happening in movement-production, unscripted, directed, a memory of a decision made in a dream. Who directs? Not I…
Language is shaped by ritualized practice, develops alongside culture, and ought not be separated from its understanding. Language in all its nuances (endlessly variable but not endlessly open) is especially relevant for the navigation of the complex topographies of human social life. The registers of language are qualitatively unique, but their navigational function exists only insofar as they find resonance in the cultural landscape being traversed — that is, the permeable limits of language are its communicability; in order to be useful in traversing a social space, language must be used to ‘make sense.’ The potential of language to effectively communicate exists only alongside creative operations whose existence undermines any understanding of language as a merely descriptive tool employed by some rational subject that lives only in the gloomy fetishes of the libidinally stymied philosopher. Language is less like inputting code than it is like echolocation, which carves out the contours of culture as its means of navigating it. Language acts become ritualized as discrete cultural phenomena by the contours of language’s real boundaries. These boundaries can be very basic and intuitive. Language as a composition of speech acts depends on much (to give a rudimentary example, on the consistent human physiology of mouths, lungs, ears, and eyes) in order to function adequately as a repeatable act of transmission. It is therefore machinic, requiring variable but reasonably consistent interlockings of functioning parts in order to work.2 So it is obvious that whatever form language takes, it meets and shapes itself inevitably to these limiters, even as it paves its own boulevards of possibility. This is so self-evident that it is very difficult to imagine how language would function without these basic limiters, and if we were to imagine some alien language as in the far reaches of Asimovian fiction, this too would be defined by a new set of founding limitations.
Yet real boundaries to language’s creative operations are also opaque and shifting. To go beyond physiology: in a sudden rainstorm with howling winds, language as speech must become language as shout. Certain avenues of expression are closed off by new boundaries placed on tone and pitch, and shouting, otherwise signifying some kind of distress, is recontextualized by a mutual, extra-verbal limiter intuitively registered by speakers. In dim lighting body language is exaggerated, and in total darkness it falls away entirely. The visual modifiers of speech activity are no less ‘linguistic’ than spoken words (evident in the occasional awkwardness of a phone call), and in the pressing dark reassuring words are accompanied by gentle touch instead of a warm smile. Where these constitutive boundaries extend outward, their relevance to culture at large starts to crystallize. In the open prairies of the American Midwest, vowels widen to reach across the plains, and in the Northeastern cities words get cut and compressed to a quick staccato in order to be heard over the clattering of traffic and machinery. For our purposes, the constitutive limitations or consistent avenues of possibility that are seen in the simple physiological limits of language allow for an understanding of culture that avoids the deadlock between the discursivists (those who hold that culture, ideology, and behavior are structured and shift based on discursive/performative normativity and the ensuing machineries of escape and capture) and the determinative social scientists (those who hold that culture, ideology, and behavior are the result of permutations of variously social and Darwinian adaptations selecting for fitness utility). Language shapes as it navigates, and is shaped by its navigations. Our references to language as a distinct element of social life are necessary in order to speak about it, but the distinction doesn’t hold outside of the utility of metaphor. Just as the howling winds in a storm present new boundaries that shape language, the historical and contemporary processes of social reproduction are the context within which all languages and cultures exist. This is the weather that all language shouts over.
Everywhere, language (within certain limiting factors) proceeds by variation. Variations of English in Southern California and English in the mountains of Kentucky are crisscrossed by difference, despite relying on a shared stratum of reference. Even within Southern California, within Orange County, Santa Ana speaks a different language than San Clemente, and so on. These languages, like culture (see section ג), are composed of inputs and outputs, nebulous boundaries, and work by breaking down, by ingress and exodus, and by the flux of each of these. And within these regions, within the neighborhoods, within the blocks, even within the households, language moves by fluxing into variance:
In an upper middle class, suburban household in Mission Viejo, a teenager says to another, “Yo, let’s mob clindo and cop some moonrocks, then hit up Jon’s joint.” To their parents this is incomprehensible, a language wefting infuriatingly just beneath comprehension. A marijuana “clinic” gets stylized as “clindo,” heading toward a destination as a group becomes “mobbing,” etc. Youth attends a neuroplastic vitality which renders an organic ability and tendency to play creatively with language, an ease of switching through codes made possible by as yet unfixed patterns of habituation. At work, the teen’s professionalized parent can no longer speak in the language of their youth — the dynamic, insular, and unofficial slang of their youth faded from habituation as their actions more and more intersected with a professional environment, and as their friends’ did as well. Slang, meanwhile, has not ceased its incessant transfiguration, and becomes nonsense to the now-uninitiated. Age drives repetition into a consolidation and a limit, and its intersection with hierarchically enforced behavior (received via a forced vergence into the professional world, for example), leads to a fixing of patterns, a closed repetition of the same which consolidates and freezes, rather than the open repetition of variance found in youth.
Language has an intimately causal and contingent relation to the actions which give rise to it: the teen wouldn’t have learned to speak a word of this language had she not developed a weed habit, which led her to buying from a guy who introduced her to their friends, who absorbed her into their group, and so on. Down another fork lies a different group with a different language, which varies with region, pastime, nationality, race, class, neighborhood — which is essentially to say with culture.
Yet youth and a drug habit do not lead us fully to the bottom of this problem of linguistic variation.3 For it was not simply youth that gave this teen’s dealer and their friends their vocabulary; it was too the result of an intermingling, a “going out and bringing back seeds on [one’s] clothes” (section ב). “Clindo,” for example, develops in Black and Chicano communities in Los Angeles, and leaks out primarily through drug distribution chains and popular music, though sub/de-urbanization and the geographically intermediary municipalities certainly are significant conduits. It’s in appropriative imitation of marginal culture that this slang is rolled out in our example. So I do not mean to construct some imaginary binary or even spectrum between an orderly, official, and absolutely fixable language of the professional world on the one hand (every office and jobsite has too its own idiosyncratic dialect), and a chaotic, totally improvisational language of slang (which would effectively resemble a dialect of Gibberish) on the other, with some intermixing as one travels from one side to the next or even back and forth, as our intrepid petit bourgeois protagonist might be said to do. Rather, like culture itself, language operates on a striated continuum, and fixes for itself boundaries and barriers, walls which nevertheless break down with age and wear; which are subverted by tunnel systems and chainlink splices to allow cross-boundary intercourse; which eventually collapse, the materials salvaged, loaded into the beds of pickup trucks, transported elsewhere, and built anew.
The Queen’s English is spoken nowhere perfectly — not even in Buckingham Palace. Rather, there is Chomsky’s English,4 a mechanical fantasy, and then there is language as it is spoken and used, language as emerging from and defined by modes of variation. This former mode of language finds ideal reality in the tendency to fix boundaries to language, the tendency to consolidate a system of signification and protect that system in order to secure a reliable means of communication without the threat of disruption. The ideal language may not anywhere be spoken, but it is nonetheless real in its attempts to subject speech to a regulatory regime. This tendency is real, and it is characteristic of all systems of speech; it is the perfect language which this tendency sometimes treats as its subject which is imaginary. There is no fixed language impervious to imposition and variation — and everyone knows this (it is only the linguists who pretend otherwise).
Dialect speech itself, rather than being some truly free rendition of signification which exists to subvert some fascism of Oxford or Webster, in fact has its own modes of insularity, can itself be unforgiving of experimentation, addition, and even or especially cooption. A Black Philadelphian enters a Los Angeles Black or Chicano community and might share much of the same slang, shortenings of words, terms disseminated into and out of hip-hop music, etc. Yet “clindo” and “moonrocks” stand out to the Philadelphian ear as much as “jawn” or “boul” does to the local ear. A white Temple student who gets their Black slang from the internet and Southern trap music says “finna” in Philadelphia and is treated with some suspicion or derision by native speakers. Our Orange County middle class white teenager can adopt the slang terms of Black or Chicano L.A., but without long immersion and association, this will always take the form of private additions to their already existing lexicon without a meaningful overlap of grammar, pronunciation, inflection, gesture, etc., and utilization of this slang around native speakers will be instinctively recognized as synthetic and adopted. Here the interpersonal dynamic plays a major role in regulating the micro-language as foreign speakers are shunned or at least recognized as other. As a foreigner or even foreign population begins to integrate into a certain region, a complicated cross-over takes place as variation from outside is simultaneously absorbed and resisted even while internal slang goes through its own revolutions.
Yet while dialects endeavor to employ their own enforcement mechanics, variation drives wedges into the cracks, providing micro-breakages which propel the evolution of the language. As Deleuze-Guattari have it, “the more a language has or acquires the characteristics of a major language, the more it is affected by continuous variations that transpose it into a ‘minor’ language.”5 The constants of languages becoming major are themselves drawn from variation itself. As the language evolves within and out of this dialectic, variation wefts beneath the major, embedding breakages which themselves, becoming minor, eventually constitute a collective mode of signification, and thus re-instantiate a shared system of signification and so trend towards the “major”… and so on. As Deleuze-Guattari put it, “There are not… two kinds of languages but two possible treatments of the same language.”6 To say the same thing: there is only language itself, a singularity brought into existence as a side effect of endless multiplicity.
Variation in language, just as in culture, is its only stable characteristic. Four movements which are one: as the variation of language disrupts stability it provides the instance for an evolution which in turn consolidates into a limit which breaks as its own momentary stability meets with the serial breakages of Creativity. A set of stylized acts get repeatedly referenced in a language until spoofs, accidental mispronunciations, or immanently reinvented renditions of the referents arise and are themselves repeated until they achieve a stability and endurance of some kind. New stylizations roll off the tongue, or have an impressionistic flavor absent in the traditional renditions. Codes switch, patch into each other’s frequencies, hijack transmissions, and reroute directionality. Barriers break, but not without resistance, and that which breaks a barrier reconstitutes one elsewhere only to be broken itself. Minor languages seethe in flux beneath between and within the major language’s imposition, blending through abbreviation and innovation, constantly morphing through repetition and creative stylization.
Action is the stuff of practice and is indivisible from it. Action is largely ritualistic — while there are actions which occur outside of overt ‘rituals,’ a great number of these remain ritualistic still. Common vernacular knows this: terms like ‘a morning ritual’ or ‘a bedtime ritual’ betray our own awareness of the ritualistic nature of our habituated activities. Action and habit are also culturally cohering; they give one a sense of belonging to a delimited group. Axe-throwing, brewery tours, and donning J-Crew coheres a certain young, white, Post-Fordist professional maleness in shared activity, affect, and self-stylization — and, in time and through repetition, these actions come to establish a common mode of valuation. How this valuation proceeds, how action is defined and classified (as good or bad or evil) varies between forms of life and their understandings of a world and one’s role in it. These modes of conceptualization and valuation, in turn, arise from the playing out of a material and immanent contingency of power relations generating societal relations over time. A certain mode of ritualized practice produces its ruts, gets stuck in feedback loops of its own reproduction. Action which escapes or augments ritualized repetition can glitch, be hacked, jump its tracks on lines of leakage with varying levels of success. Action is interrelated with all other action — it is reactive which is also to say productive; that is, it is creative of novel conditions, circumstances, and connectivities, and in a process of habituation it works to (re)produce even itself. Action can therefore be inculcated, and it is through this inculcation of action, habit, language, behavior, that culture comes to be. It moves, predictably and unpredictably, in stops and starts. Action is the revving of desiring-machines, and the down-channel racing of desiring-production.
ב. The Birth of Mythos: Akhenaten, Homer, Brahma, Zarathustra, Socrates, and Monotheism
Culture is a lab-culture dropped in a swamp... What is born in this Silurian marsh? God rises from the primordial ooze… life seems to be ruled by limiters: crop yield, rainfall, drought, fires, storms, megafauna migration patterns, plagues. Things happen for apparently inexplicable reasons, yet from behind our eyes they seem directed and personal. So come the gods, in the wind at sea, licking in the fire in the forests. Gods explain circumstance and contingency, and perhaps more importantly, divinity provides us with something to do about things which otherwise seem beyond our control.
Religion gets to work through the successful mobilization of Erotic 'lures,' the success of competing narratives which account for contingency. As Michael L. Thomas writes, thinking with Alfred North Whitehead, “The concepts [...] that appeal to individuals do so through their resonance with present experience, or by forcing a reevaluation of the present perspective[...]. In turn, our perception of reality changes, causing us to feel differently[...].”7 There is a feeling, which seems to be endemic to the human condition, from which deification, spirituality, and religiosity arise. Plotinus refers to it as something inarticulable, which can’t ever be put adequately into words. It’s a sense of unity, or at least of transcendental interrelationality, a feeling that there’s something beyond oneself, beyond flat nominal observations and facticity (“there is a tree, there is a rock, here is the sidewalk”) — some transcendent connectivity, some sublime interactivity, some coalescence of phenomena which becomes larger than its parts, something fundamental to the structure of what’s happening, to experience, that one struggles to articulate, that one ultimately makes into God. Something beyond the bare movements of atoms, something else, some hidden truth. There is a moment in which you feel the process of immanent happening unfolding with you deep in its current, something which you can’t quite catch up with, to which you are not mere witness but in which you are an indivisible if infinitesimal part. Vibrating along the strumming of the process, there is no point with which to catch up — you are simply borne along in its evolvement. And in moments, flashes, of revelation you can see God moving in the world, there is something about this intangible which becomes blindingly clear, beyond reason or articulation. And this feeling of oneness that you’re granted, that you access, in these brief blazing instants, leaves you feeling fundamentally changed, and “in turn, [y]our perception of reality changes, causing [you] to feel differently and to see more or fewer relations as a result.”8 As Thomas notes, Whitehead speaks of the order of nature as having an Eros, “the urge towards the realization of ideal perfection.”9 Thomas writes,
The Eros constitutes the initial feeling of wholeness or togetherness in experience that aims at the continuation of order, but with greater intensity (the involvement of more relations). This Eros is the ground of feelings from which concepts abstract and have their own emotional quality or tone. The structural resonance between ideas has an emotional resonance in the order of things. Eros explains the pull towards perfection and systematic wholeness. There is a fullness of relations between existing things that is felt in the emotional texture of our experience. “God” and other ultimate principles are a manifestation of the desire to capture this wholeness and make it a central feature of our experience. Thus […] the ontological idea of God along with our other grand metaphysical presuppositions, should be seen as an attempt to seduce us into a shared experience for mutual satisfaction.
There is something Erotic, therefore, in our experience of what might be termed the Divine, something which draws us to that experience in which we share in Plotinus' struggle to articulate that which hits so brightly in moments of clarity which escape articulation, which, thinking with Plato, might be called momentary fusions with the Absolute. We feel, fully, deeply, the “fullness of relations between existing things that is felt in the emotional texture of our experience”11 in these moments of revelation, wherein something appears to be ‘revealed’ to us. Afterwards, we are left in the position of reckoning with this experience, of reconciling it somehow to the world and our experience of it. We struggle to find explanation, struggle to express it, struggle to make something of it. Religion is the attempt to do so, and its success is due in part to its ability to Erotically lure its converts and adherents, its ability to speak to and connect with this fundamental feeling of interactivity which exists within our experience. This is the origin of the religious instinct — here is Crake’s “God gene.”12
Religion is further mobilized by the reconciliation of revelation and the subsequent codification and spread of that standardized and narrativized reconciliation. Its success relies on the strength of its Erotic lure, its ability to instantiate and mythologize “the pull towards perfection and systematic wholeness,” in its ability to “lure” feeling into sensing the world in a certain way, “causing us to feel differently and to see more or fewer relations as a result.”13 Religion arises in the form of narrative, as we begin to assign and assemble meaning to the inexplicable, and it successfully coheres where those narratives, for whatever reason, possess broad libidinal appeal. In Egypt, god arose as a deification of a fundamental productive or generative force. According to Charles Finch’s introduction to the opus of Gerald Massey, Massey claims that “early humans realized no connection between sex [...] and reproduction, hence there was no notion of fatherhood. [...T]he bursting forth of new life in toto presented itself as a [...] transcendent mystery. It made the female [...] the paradigm of the first [...] images of deity. In the first advent, God was feminine.”14,15 And this divinity was not clad in human guise, but rather in the guise of the hippopotamus, the crocodile, the lioness, and the sycamore tree.16 In Kemet, agriculture, social law, early crafts, and the other attributes which distinguished man from not-man, first developed under the system of the matriarch, “with the mother17 supreme as procreator, nourisher, and preserver.”18 Under the ancient Egyptian's understanding of production and procreation, maternity and the figure of the Mother19 reigned as the embodiment of generative force. And, crucially, as Finch notes, “The strangest and most peculiar beliefs and customs are never merely products of the imagination; they reflect a typological reality that governed the world that the early humans made.”20 In other words, beliefs arise from further beliefs arrived at by peculiar perception and attendant habituation, and do not spring mysteriously into the mind from nowhere. In Kemet, as elsewhere, this immanent, playful, and associative religiosity arises first, a predecessor to the eschatological figures of later ‘revealed’ religion. As Finch explains, “The Great Mother21 was the primal type and from her [...] emanated other [...] Powers. [She] was not worshiped out of fear and ignorance [...] but as a means of linking with and benefiting from the Powers inherent in nature. [...N]ature encompassed both the seen and unseen planes” (italics my own).22 The symbols of this mode of religiosity are associative, intuitive: the hippopotamus embodies the pregnant female and therefore is thought of as an avatar of the Great Mother,23 for example. For the Mythic human there is no personified God, immaterial and supreme, but rather an interpretive mode which latches meaning onto one’s physical surroundings, imbibing it all with a deeper significance. And what is the Erotic lure, the attraction, of such a mode of religiosity, of consciousness? Its imbibing of experience with meaning and significance, and its opening the door for the sanctification of repeated stylized acts as themselves interactive with divinity itself — its lure is composed of its enriching of life with purpose, meaning, and satisfaction.
Thus, and as we see clearly in the italicized above, religion also arises ritualistically, from a libidinal demand to do something about the existence of the Divine. Early on, this takes the form of the repetition of stylized rituals which are meant to ingratiate one into the favor of the gods, seen as a way to prevent disaster and encourage plenty. The question answered by the early religious ritual was how to integrate human actions into the Eros, into the binding divinity of the phenomenal world. A powerful example is found through a critical study of the origin of the Vedic verses in early Hinduism: the Vedas are a compilation of improvised verses composed by poets in the service of Brahmic elites, used to invoke deities during sacrifices. They were not testimony or narratives of revelation, but “displays of poetic talent meant to attract deities to sacrifice through their aesthetic and lyrical content.”24 Only later was their status as canonized scripture cemented. Likewise, the rituals and ceremonies of the pre-Christian Greek and Roman mystery cults were typically performed in order to improve one’s standing with some god or other, or improve one’s lot in the afterlife.25 Early religion inaugurates a cultural mythic consciousness principally characterized by a materiality to divinity, wherein the gods are not abstractions but actually-material deities which walk upon the earth and affect it directly — Zeus tests your virtue by appearing really before you as a traveler in need of shelter at your door; the Great Mother drinks at the water-hole in the ‘guise’26 of the hippopotamus. Early religious conceptualization imbibes the empty materiality, the dreary facticity, of existence with meaning, soaks it with divine significance, and helps to make life itself rich, fecund, and worth living. Mythic consciousness is an unmitigated play of imagination and material, an immanent symbolism which coheres groups around shared ritual and belief.
Only later, and slowly, does this begin to change: the religiosity of associative immanence gives way to a religiosity of abstraction, received revelation, and (often masculine) divine supremacy. Associative play and individual divine connectivity gives way as the conception of man turns from a creature among creatures borne along in the noumenal flux, toward the conception of man as subject, as the ultimate phenomenal perceiver. Tribal politics gives way to imperial politics as domination, disenchantment, and the secularization of the state inaugurate the new epoch. And here we see the beginnings of man, both gendered and universal, becoming the divine figure himself.27 28
In Egypt, in the court of Akhenaten and Nefertiti, the Cult of Aten took hold of the kingdom and saw the destruction of all false gods and their temples. King Amenhotep IV, son of Amenhotep III (later called Aten-tjehen, the Dazzling Sun Disk), abandons the Amunic pantheon, and rejects the physicality of the gods. He strikes down the priestly class as he razes their temples, he topples the columns of godly shrines as he topples the physicality of godliness itself. A new religion is born which de-subjectifies divinity, first abstracting it wholly into the singular god of Aten-Re, then abandoning even that form for the radiance of Aten itself, immanent, divine, singular, and everywhere. Representation in art of any god is forbidden, and only depiction of the rays of the Sun Disk themselves is permitted.
This, the first monotheism seen on earth, was perhaps closer to a positive ditheism, a focus on the immanent and unifying power of divinity rather than on a powerful figure in-itself, worthy of worship and devotion. As such, it was both progressive and reactionary, as it strove toward a new conception of the divine which abstracted God even as it reinvigorated religious practice and conception with the immanent nature of mythic consciousness. As the mechanical state carved thrones for their gods which granted brutal Pharaohs and their priests the divine right of rule — as divinity became bureaucratized — the associative play of imagination which lies at the evolutionary root of this polytheism faded. The radicality of Akhenaten’s rule was this dethroning of divinity, returning it to the blessed dirt and river, reinvigorating breath and rock and stone with sacredness. Akhenaten’s religious reinvigoration was itself driven by his own theophany, an instance of metanoia, a moment of brink-pushed madness in his middle youth. In the fifth year of his reign, Amenhotep IV, as he was known then, experienced what, at some point or another, we all experience: a brief, blinding moment of fusion with the absolute. The cynicism of the priestly class was as poison in his temples — like Zarathustra he cried, “Bad air! Bad air! That something deformed comes near me; that I should have to smell the entrails of a deformed soul!”29 In all the bureaucratic subdivisions did this rancor burn, and so he cut out their hearts: he wrecked their pantheon, and reconsolidated divinity around the immanent outpouring of energetic connectivity, symbolized for him in the Aten, the Sun Disc. For twelve years the Cult of Aten was ascendent, false gods and their temples torn down, with Akhenaten and Neferneferuaten Nefertiti on the throne. Then he died and his sickly son, Tutankhaten, took back the name Tutankhamun and swiftly reinstated both the pantheon and the aristocratic bureaucracy. Akhenaten’s cult was outlawed, and his cultists rooted out, and his tomb was desecrated. The Aten fell from grace, and the old god Amun sat once more at the helm of the Egyptian pantheon.
Yet Akhenaten’s immortality exceeds forever the cheap fame bought by his son’s sarcophagus sitting even now in the British Museum. Akhenaten died, but his religion survived in a splinter group, which fled north after Akhenaten’s death and the collapse of the religion, to Palestine.30 31
In Persia, Zoroaster, Zarathustra Spitama, spoke of one God, who was (to put it crudely) lord of the gods, which themselves were immanent inundations of the One, avatars of a fundamental divinity (much like the Hindu gods, described by Matthew Duperon as “windows into divinity”).32 An early Judaic tribal religion, pantheistic in nature, may have found its universalism first not only in the refugee Cult, but also in the theology of universalism embedded in Zoroastrian dogma. Angels attend to the prayers of Jews exiled in Babylon and usher them to Jerusalem, in much the same way that avatars of the One in Zoroastrianism usher prayer through the divine windows of their being and into the universal and singular divine.
The teachings of Zarathustra spread west from Persia while the Cult of the Sun God rose north from Egypt: they met in Canaan, or Palestine, and the Y-hweh god (among a diverse pantheon varying from tribe to tribe, Y-hweh’s kingship among the gods was universal) was elevated to singularity in a move which united some dozen disparate tribes. For Massey, “There is evidence enough to prove the [Hebrew mythological] types are Egyptian and the people who brought them out of Egypt must have been [...] Egyptian in race, of a religion that was Egyptian of the earliest and oldest kind.”33 The Book of Exodus is simply the dramatization of this flight, the cultists themselves transformed into Hebrews in the court of King Solomon during the revision of the Pentateuch. The Cult of Aten “represented the ancient Mother-and-Son religious system dating back to pre-dynastic times.”34 Here we see the genesis of classical monotheism: from Zarathustra’s king god Ahura Mazda which is the One of which the minor gods are inundations, and from Akhenaten’s Rē-Herakhteē, the god who lives in the immanence of the Aten’s rays who for Akhenaten (and his successors who fled the institutional reinstantiation of the pantheon) was the only God, and these synthesized in the figure of the Judean Y-hweh Nameless One, do we see the beginnings of the conception of a singular, supreme Lord and Creator of All, the Emaner of All That Is.
In all three of these practices (Egyptian, Persian, Palestinian Hebraic), God still had materiality, sacrifices were made, rituals performed — yes, He was undepictable, a supreme ruler, and all-powerful, but He still held vestigial materiality granted by His ritualistic origins. Then a robed and hideous sophist wanders south and east from Athens and returns with an idea, supplemented by an idea of his predecessor Xenophanes: “One god, greatest among gods and humans, like mortals neither in form nor in thought.”35 A singular god who is synonymous with transcendental, unattainable truth and real reality absolutely distinct from materiality or appearance, who lives in and is constituted by a field of non-existent and absolute Forms, geometric angels in the court of high heaven. In the court of Israel the Hebrew scriptures are edited, written and rewritten, and God transcends from local supreme deity to Lord of All, Melekh Ha’Olam (Ha’Olam [העולם], “the world,” derived from helem [הלם], “hidden, concealed” — extraterrestrial, immaterial]). After the Roman destruction of the Second Temple, in Yavneh, even the sacrificial cult of the kohanim is disavowed, God ethered once more, finally, and forever. Western rationalism and formalism along with Abrahamic monotheism find their fetal incarnations in this Paleoarchean Babylon. Now God has become Truth, a singular stability, controlling, redemptive, total, unattainable. Something Beyond, Outside, to which to direct prayer, sacrifice, and eternal deference and devotion. We arrive at a singular god, solitary, supreme, and absolutely immaterial. Yet, our arrival is traceable, trackable, the result of a contingent coalescence of the culture-machine’s functioning over land and time: in the marsh of immanent and contingent culture, God rises from the primordial ooze.
Over the whole of the earth religiosity arises as humans grasp for meaning, and the meaning they find binds them in ritual and practice, becoming one of the primary foundations of culture.
ג. The Culture-Machine: Volcanoes, Societies, Tectonic Breaks-Flows
Culture arises naturally, which is to say immanently, from human interaction: and by this is meant not simply human-to-human interaction, but that dynamic as mediated through a tremendous variety of contingent environmental factors: flows of water, the slow and sacred movement of tectonic plates, soil content, wind patterns, and ocean currents all contribute to precisely how a culture comes to develop and assign the meaning which it assigns to the (phe)noumenal stuff of life. Cultures are inculcated in the young, naturalized to their consciousness. Culture and the playing out of its attendant power relations produce sensibility, the difference, for example, in the somatic and cognitive effect of the sight of a police car on the body of a Black or white child in the United States. Culture is enforced, but it also finds escape routes, perpetually intermingling, going out and bringing back seeds on its clothes. It proceeds properly dialectically, which is to say, not like a seesaw, but rather like soundwaves encountering one another in the high air, entering into composition with one another in equal or unequal pulsions, or causing the decomposition of one and/or the other’s parts. It proceeds violently and softly, by genocide and migration, by material relations, through joy and sadness. In other words, a culture proceeds or is destructed by the nature of its encounter with other cultures — or, better, with other societies, in the Whiteheadian sense (for Whitehead, even a boulder is a society, a tight ensemble of atoms and molecules which, in their own way, interact and move mysteriously and causally). Some of these “societies” which augment culture are human societies, and some are inhuman to the extreme: for example the society of Mount Vesuvius, in the utterly inhuman violence of its clash with Pompeiian society, introduced the volcano, an entirely new emblem and concept, into Latin culture and consciousness.
Culture is an unfolding, an incessant carrying-out which birthes itself continually on a plane of immanence. It is a network (or a patch-work,36 a network between the past and its never-ending yawn into the present) with its boundaries in flux, to a greater or lesser degree (the Sentinelese culture, for example, has lesser boundary-flux than, for instance, West African or North American cultures). A culture is a machine which works by breaking down; culture evolves by remaining in a (non)state of continuous change. The machine technically endeavors to maintain a nominal constant; it fails, breaks down, and through this breakage it evolves, adapts to changing circumstances and, if done well, it survives: the culture-machine churns amidst a matrix of flows, consisting of input and output vectors of varying magnitudes. These introductions and deaths produce breaks-flows in the smooth functioning of the otherwise isolated technical machine (the engine in vacuum, or any stable or formal theory of culture); however, the culture-machine, unlike an ideal machine, requires the invigoration of incorporation, newly assembled rituals (fuel), and the expulsion of destructed or vestigial practices (exhaust). Breakages (additions, subtractions, extrapolations, extractions) propel the churning ensemble.
Culture is not pre-given, and has no authentic originality. There is no primordial model or stasis which was later disrupted, augmented, and reformed through “outside” imposition or internal decay; culture is itself constituted by change, by warp and weft. Culture is not as the original ground, subject to the erosion of wind and rain and runoff or the addition of sedimentation, but rather it is the inundating becomings of the wind and the river as they flow over the ground which is itself the momentary incarnation of a long history of sedimentation and transfiguration.
Culture produces itself through propagation — that is, it must reproduce itself in order to continually generate itself. As it repeats through each generation, it mutates, produces difference; indeed, without this change it would not survive. In this way it functions much like a species: in order to continue it reproduces, and through reproduction it augments itself — and this is not a fault nor a “loss” of itself, necessarily. Again, culture works by partially breaking down, through symbolic refreshes, through movements of consolidation but also of release, where vestigial organs are expelled, reformatted, or cannibalized. These vestiges often drag out behind the organism on tendrils for some time before total severance occurs, before the full body finishes its revolution.
The Sentinelese (a name you may recognize from the news)37 culture survives in its form due to the enforced lack of its encounters with the outside — but this policy, enforced as we saw in early 2019 through admirable and uncompromising violence, is informed by the remembered imposition of alien doctors who abused and catalogued them like cattle.38 The Incan culture barely survived its encounter with Spanish imperialism, and what of it survives is different for that genocide, is in part defined by that genocide. Whiteness in the United States, too, works by breaking down, by allowing into its ranks greater numbers as concession or material advantage — its machinery swelling with the input of the Italians, the Irish, the Jews… all in order to contradictorily cement other hard lines which bar still other groups from inclusion and therefore from ethical consideration and the protection of (and from) the polis. Cultures often attempt to obscure one another for control, as whiteness blots and extracts and exploits blackness as it sees fit. African cultures, Chinese and Korean cultures, were changed when they entered the United States through repetition into new environs and adaptation through new encounters, but they are no less “real” for that.
Culture is also that matrix which produces, in accord with its specific polyvocal symbolic law, the terms by which the bodies which are regulated within it come to be intelligible. The constructed materiality and Reality of race, gender, sex, etc. comes into being and produces its becomings and the becomings of those subjectivated by it in a culturally specific manner. More broadly, the ways in which the human is thought and delimited, and, no less significantly, the ways in which the human slips these bounds into the densely populated zones marked as inhuman and the unintelligible, make up and are made up by the full body of societally specific culture itself.
A full examination of these abstract dynamics is not undertaken herein, despite its clear relevance. This polemic can, and, we think, ought to be read with and through the above, and these features were prevalent in our own mind during this writing, but ultimately we have left it to others or to our future selves to expound upon these relations. As Judith Butler writes in their introduction to Bodies That Matter, “it may be precisely the partiality of a text which conditions the radical character of its insights.” This conceptual exclusion is also attributable to the shortcomings of my accounting of culture: I am still struggling to articulate the mechanisms and contingencies of culture without stumbling too detrimentally upon the conundrum that, in trying to abstract to the general and thereby attain wide explanatory applicability, something of the specific workings of power within a given culture-machine seems to be inevitably excluded or lost.39
So it should be clear that I do not intend for culture’s machination to sound like a happy process — indeed, culture’s favorite fuel is often violence. The phenomenon of the Shoah, and the way Jewish culture responded in the 80 subsequent years, is an example of such violence of culture which results in such augmentation, an evolution embodying the principle of “survival by whatever means:”
ד. Case Study: The Yids in Berlin and the Birth of the Zionist Übermensch
Germany suffered such a blow at the vindictive hands of Versailles that the path to an austere ethno-nationalism was laid with oil awaiting a spark. Nazism was that spark, and Jewry was the mythic villain against which the blaze was set, its villainy the ultimate justification for the fire. For Ernst Cassirer in The Myth of the State, the Nazi consciousness is a mythic consciousness, wherein the division between the divine world and the physical world does not exist. In the mythic age, gods didn’t simply descend to Earth — they literally lived on Earth (at the top of Mount Olympus, for example). This lack of division between the earthly and the divine also informed the production of Western epistemological consciousness: if there is no separation between the earthly and the divine, there is no difference between appearance and reality.40 For Plato and his innumerable successors, a critical examination of the relationship between appearance and reality formed the foundation for what remains the dominant Western method of critical thought. Under a mythic consciousness, where hallucination is revelation, what appears to be the case is really the case. Under a cynical appropriation of a mythic consciousness, which Cassirer claims Nazism to be, a fleshed out state apparatus with a fully functioning propaganda organ appears to be exactly what it declares itself to be — a heroic body which fights and governs for the benefit of all, which tends to the garden of the nation and pulls the appropriate ethnological weeds — even while it produces, willfully and with intent, the Erotic myth by which it is constituted and its rule justified. For Cassirer, the division of appearance and reality in our consciousness, instituted by the Ban on Idolatry (Moses’ doctrine upon his return from Sinai and discovery of the Golden Calf that God and Truth are not physical or of the Earth), is what creates the condition for the possibility of critical thought. Nazism, for Cassirer, is a cynical appropriation of the life-world of myth that precludes the possibility of critical thought — the performance of rites (attending rallies, praising the Führer, participating in being the model Nazi citizen) became, through repetition and inculcation, what was right. This appropriation41 was cynical in nature because it was a resurrection of those aspects of mythos which could be manipulated in order to institute a system of indoctrination and control, rather than the ancient, organic mythic mode of imaginative free-play (narrativized above):
Myth was no longer a free and spontaneous play of imagination. It was regulated and organized; it was adjusted to political needs and used for concrete political ends. What formerly appeared to be an ungovernable unconscious process was subjected to a severe discipline. It was brought under control and trained to obedience and power. Myths were brought into being by the word of command of the political leaders. They could be made at will, becoming an artificial compound manufactured in the great laboratory of politics. The twentieth century is a technical century. It invented a new technique of myth and this invention proved to be decisive in the final victory of the National Socialist party in Germany.42
The State became synonymous with the Divine because there was no distinction between what was and what ought to be, thereby casting the State into a position of moral authority and supremacy, a morality synonymous with and inseparable from legality and the machinations of juridical sovereignty. The Word of the Führer, like the Word of God, becomes truth itself upon dictation. In Lissa Skitolsky's words,
[...] for Cassirer the Jews were not merely the scapegoat for Germany’s ills. Instead the Holocaust was the product of the historical battle between the mythic and the ethical forms of collective life, the battle between rite and right[...]. When political leaders self-consciously devise new rites in order to manipulate masses, when they take for themselves god-like powers over entire populations, when they proclaim the real to be the ideal, they harness the power of myth for the sake of wealth and power.
This is a symbolo-ceremonial means of indoctrination and manufacturing consensus, wherein ritualistic repetition of rites institutes an exclusionary cultural identity and fanatic fidelity:
The effect of these new rites is obvious. Nothing is more likely to lull asleep all of our active forces, our power of judgment and critical discernment, and to take away our feeling of personality and individual responsibility than the steady, uniform, and monotonous performance of the same rites.
The Jews, therefore, that race whose supremacy lies precisely in their incessant interrogation of “appearance,” the apparent world, and even of the Word of God itself, that culture which gains definition by its lack of national fidelity, presents a unique ideological challenge to the mythic consciousness of Nazism, and so requires extermination,45 or at the least makes for a very convenient enemy — and fascisms like the German, Polish, Israeli, and American varieties always require such an enemy, one which is Within but which has infiltrated from Without.
Yet why was Nazism appealing? For its appeal was indeed what secured the victory of the Nazi Party in Germany, as Cassirer rightly notes. What was the Eros of National Socialism? For Emmanuel Levinas, in Some Thoughts on the Philosophy of Hitlerism, Nazism is a misplaced revolt against the excesses of German Idealism, Christianity, and Western philosophy at large, which deny embodiment its intrinsic value. Levinas writes,
The whole philosophical and political thought of modern times tends to place the human spirit on a plane that is superior to reality, and so creates a gulf between man and the world. It makes it impossible to apply the categories of the physical world to the spirituality of reason, and so locates the ultimate foundation of the spirit outside the brutal world and the implacable history of concrete existence. It replaces the blind world of common sense with the world rebuilt by idealist philosophy, one that is steeped in [...] and subject to reason.
In classifying reason and Mind as the locus of philosophical significance, and as having radical agency over the body, the tradition of Western thought devalues phenomenological relevance/revelation, and in many cases induces shame in embodiment itself, or explicitly condemns propositions arrived at through the consideration of embodiment. The larger part of traditional Christian thought works to devalue the body, sensuality, embodiment, and the physical world through a negative valuation of sensual pleasure and a glorification of the next life, which is reached through an ascetic rejection of all things bodily. For an explanatory example, consider Kant’s categorical imperative: for Kant, the sole source of valuation is Mind and its reason. Emotions ought to be ignored as distractions, and consequence upon the bodies of those affected by a given decision ought not factor into the ethical equation at all. What matters is only rationale, reason, the mind, and the inviolable moral maxim. Appreciation of beauty, even, is always mentally “disinterested” for Kant, intellectual and mentally specious. For the history of the Western conceptualization of the self, the body is to be overcome, transcended, and is thereby devalued, derided, and, when you get down to it, hated by these ascetic priests which “ha[ve] functioned as the repulsive and gloomy caterpillar-form in which alone philosophy was allowed to live and in which it crept around...”47 For depressive, lonely Kant and his austere, priestly fellows, the body is a prison of flesh, a hated limitation to the otherwise unlimited flight of Mind. In response to this inculcated shame comes the Nazi revolt, an uncritical and indulgent positive valuation of physicality and materiality. Whereas before the Ego was horribly trapped within a body which did not define its truth, now the Ego becomes its body, is glorified in its very embodiment, in a crude rejection of idealism which institutes a violently exclusionary racialism. Nazism affirms the absolute value of the (Aryan) body in the face of its utter devaluation:
The importance attributed to this sentiment of the body, which never satisfied the Western mind, is the basis of a new notion of man. The biological, with all the fatality it entails, becomes more than an object of spiritual life; it becomes its heart [...] the mysterious voices of the blood, the calls of heredity and the past, lose the nature of problems submitted to a supremely free ego for solution.
Nazism becomes a rejection of these humanistic, liberal ideals which form the foundation of Western democratic ideology: “The forms of modern society based on the accord of free wills seem not only fragile and inconsistent but false and deceitful [and] loses the grandeur of the triumph of mind over body[…]. A society with a consanguine base follows directly from this concretization of the mind.”49 In attempting to escape from the obstacles of history, biology, and nationality, these facts with which the detached Western ego has always struggled, the Nazi revolt embraces Germanic, “Aryan” history, biology, and nationality, exalting Volkische being, mythos, and supremacy. The pattern of history becomes genetic warfare, and so the existential threat to this newly created Volk is discovered by these avaricious scientist-devils in genetic and physical impurity, in degenerate, democratic ideology and those misled governments and peoples which prize it so highly. Value is now found in blood: it no longer has anything to do with escaping corporeality through flights of Mind — Aryan blood grants value, as does Germanic nationality and soil. For Levinas,
In [Hitlerism] the Germanic ideal of man comes as a promise of sincerity and authenticity. Man no longer stands before a world of ideas where he can choose his own truth by a sovereign decision of his free reason; he is already bound to certain truths, as he is bound by birth to all men of his blood[…]. [Ideals] come from his concrete being, are anchored to his flesh and blood and share their gravity.
The appeal of Nazism is that we are free to honor our embodiment, so long devalued. The desire to succumb to such a value system of crude embodiment is what powers the belief in the mythos. The desire not just to value oneself in terms of one’s embodiment alone, but that embodiment as in-itself special, as in-itself superior, as in-itself destined to a mythic greatness. The mythic consciousness of the ancient world is summoned by the occultist propaganda machine of Hitlerism, reformatted and weaponized for nationalistic warfare. Nazism functions as a lure because, following Whitehead and Thomas, it expands and reorients feeling by encouraging an anti-production that liberates one from the Christian and German idealist devaluation of the body while instigating a novel connectivity through an exclusionary positive valuation of the Aryan body. It allows one to feel, sense, experience, and conceptualize oneself and the world in new and brazenly attractive ways. Libidinal desiring spins up and races down the ducts laid by Nazi engineers of desiring, the Nazi subject gets liberated from the shameful devaluation of his past (inaugurated in part by Versailles)51 and is welcomed into a bright future in which he, and he alone, is destined to inherit the earth. Aryan mastery is assured, written, secure: so long as those others which threaten the Aryan race are dealt with — for the valuation of the body is here the valuation of the Aryan body, of Aryan blood, which is under de facto constant threat. The disabled, sexual degenerates, the Jews, the Poles, and the Roma infect, dilute, and threaten the purity of Aryan blood and culture. Mythic history, re-instantiated, summoned back from the past as a twisted golem, becomes a history of genetic warfare, one which must be taken up anew: root out these plague-rats, this contagion, this Jewish poison and Hebrew corruption. Embrace vitality, pride, and strength, and eviscerate this sniveling, low-born, infected virus which threatens you, your family, your blood, and above all your Fatherland.
Now the culture of European Jewry at this time is informed by still other violences: pogroms, expulsions, and inquisitions have scattered them since the days of Herod, atomizing the ancient nation into so many molecular shtetls. In urban centers they practice mobile, nomadic trades — fine metalwork, jewel cutting, tailoring, and other burgher mercantile crafts. In short, businesses which can be picked up and moved with little notice. Or they perform the tasks traditionally forbidden to Christians by their undead messiah: money loaning, lawyering, and etc. which for fairly obvious reasons become looked upon as manipulative and deceitful. Along with the Jews’ lack of national fidelity, this renders an untrustworthy people, one not appropriately integrated or meaningfully understood. Myths of Kabbalistic witchcraft haunt the goyische mythos of the outskirted shtetls, and accusations of blood libel are sometimes whispered, sometimes shouted.
The contingency of cultural arising becomes visible, an atelic historical process reliant upon environment, location, access to resources including land for residence, etc. Jewish culture is no different and follows the same materialist laws of contingent arising, and it becomes observable precisely why those characteristics make them an easy and obvious enemy for the Nazi regime. In the Crusades, in the Pogroms, in the Inquisition, in the relegation to “sinful” occupations, in the creation of a diffuse culture of textual criticism following the fall of the Temple and the scattering of the tribes and the diffusion of the Sanhedrin, one truth is clear: culture proceeds, in part, by way of violence. Input and output vectors become trackable: fallen from the position of kingdomhood, the expelled lose their skill for warcraft and majoritarian rule. Without a Temple and the official production of scripture, interpretation of what to do with commandments which require a Temple to be followed form the basis of a new culture of hermeneutics and scriptural re-interpretation. Environmental change causes the machine to break down, which is part of the process of its functioning: it adapts, patching over the wound and by so doing creates something novel. Consistent expulsion renders an insular culture, one which moves from province to province without full integration. A nomadic and blinkered People of the Book is born—culture has evolved, proceeded by way of violence, expelled its vestigial organs and grown for itself fresh ones, better suited for its precarious and constantly changing environs.
German culture, its ancient Gothic and Prussian pride badly wounded by the Great War and the bayonet of Versailles, proceeds by way of violence from a point arrived at by way of violence: it strikes back, reaffirms the value of its body, so shamed by the excesses of German Idealism and Anglo disdain, and purifies its line through the elimination the Pole, the Jew, the Romani, and even its own blood if found to be physically defective or homosexual. Addicted to speed, its methed-up soldiers blitz east and west seeking triumph and Lebensraum. Finally it falls by the violent and impractical excesses which fueled it, into defeat and long partition.
The Jew, halved and decimated, proceeds by way of violence. An old wish, the subterranean wish of any nomad, seated deep in the blood, seeks an ancient homeland. Herzl inspires many men, from Eichmann to Ben-Gurion, but his wish cycles uselessly without libidinal-material fuel. Posthumous fuel arrives: driven by their guilt and their wish to avoid accountability, Europe does many things in the aftermath of the Nazi genocide. One is Nuremburg, another is Israel. The colonial situation in Palestine has become inconvenient, unprofitable, and the indigenous tension unmitigable. An influx of Jewish refugees from Europe (some smuggled there before the implementation of the Final Solution by Eichmann himself!) and the formation of the Haganah lends a quasi-European successor to British colonial rule: the European Jew. The British openly arm the ‘moderate’ Haganah and subtly arm the radical Irgun and make their swift exit. The newly formed United Nations rends the land in two in a liberal and doomed compromise, and on the day of ratification sparks a Holy War, the continuation of a single Crusade which has raged since the Canaanites longed for home and the Word of God sent them from Egypt to the walls of Jericho.
In 1948 the Jew changes. Homeless no more, thoughtful no more, victim no more — he becomes the Arbiter of War. The culture-machine once again functions by breaking down; the prefrontal interpretative organ is reformatted as a wargame calculator. The scholar-commander reads The Nomadology and blasts a hole in the wall behind the enemy,52 eviscerating the insurgent, his family, his home, and the next seven generations of his line. The culture of wit and grace under persecution becomes the culture of national security and predation, as it adapts to its new and ancient environs.
“Next year, in Jerusalem!” turns from wish to vicious promise, as the lesson of Exodus is turned on its head and forgotten — the myth serves an inverse function, morphing via a breakage into a fable which justifies the violence by which it transforms. A new mythic consciousness is born, in the land of Joshua: the gods have come back to earth! There is Mount Tabor, over those hills and beyond that cell tower, where the armies of Hazor met the Israelites in battle! There is Masada, where the Sicarii Jews martyred themselves in dirt and blood and wailing! Here is Hezekiah’s Tunnel, the waterways which the Israelites traversed to defend the City of David from the Assyrians! There is Caesarea, where the body of the great Akiva, who screamed the Shema as he was skinned alive, was borne by Eliyahu himself! “And blessed are you, Rabbi Akiva, that your life expired with ‘Echad!’” And there is the Mount of Olives, where the dead will rise—techiyas hameisim—with the coming of the Melech Moshiach and the ushering-in of Olam Ha-Ba! This is the sacred land of the Covenant, promised to us by this fearful God who strides at our backs into heat and war.
So goes the myth: “the Zionist has exceeded mankind — he has gone beyond man! The beast of prey roams the chaparral, stretching his lank over the hillside. His augmented arms can see around corners, slice down an incoming missile from 75,000 yards. The Zionist is the Superman, going beyond man by augmenting himself with sat-coms and high-tech armaments. The sergeant stands at the ridge of a hillside at Khirbet Khizeh53 above a sea of fog, looking out across this land which he secures for himself and the future of his people, swelled with pride. “I hate them because they make us kill their children,” says Ariel Sharon. Is this not the realization, after so many centuries, of a race freed of ressentiment? Of an aristocratic Übermenschen? That race of ascetic jurist-priests of ressentiment, the Jews, those most unlikely of candidates, are indeed become Zarathustra's successors. What need have they of humility when their destiny is supreme? It is the Philistines who now rave in the ranks of slaves, born and driven by hatred and a vicious ressentiment.” So goes the myth.
The Haganah is reborn in the IDF and Mossad, the Irgun becomes the pall of state-sanctioned vigilantism which continues unabated. That ancient enemy, the Philistine, now sits beyond the walls of Jerusalem. The Jew who dwells once more in the Promised Land, who for two-thousand years has wandered, has become once again a race of conquerors and warriors, in the land of David and Solomon and Judah the Maccabee. In 1948 and again in 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982, 1985, 1987, 2000, 2006, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2021, and 2022 the remilitarized Jew, armed once again for the first time since the days of Zedekiah and his doomed prophet Jeremiah, since the martyrdom of Bar Kokhba and Akiva, wages war against its enemies, now with two-thousand years of vengeance to exact. The maxim “blood and soil” once again haunts the legacy of the Jewish race, now unuttered, just below the surface, but wreaking the same violence. Security, homeland — Lebensraum! now dictates the policy of the Jewish theocracy, and the Jews, once weeds, now become the weeders tending to their garden, defending it from the enemy which is Within but which has come from Without—the Palestinian Arab. Jewish culture in the Holy Land54 becomes vindictive, offensive, reactionary, hot and quick, and loses all of its ancient sagacity. The People of the Book have rearmed, augmenting themselves with cybernetic limbs, with cell phones and assault rifles and airspace defense missiles.
Jewish culture has proceeded, from the waning days of Moses to the never-ending political reign of Netanyahu and the Likud, by way of violence. The machine has shuddered, broken down, and re-awoken to a red sun and the brazen notes of the Hatikvah.
ה. Viral Vestiges & A Counter-Mythos: Regaining the Lost Future of a Bloody Olam Ha-ba
Contemporary Zionism engendered a split in the Jew. Like all instances of repetition, contingency causes an adaptation, a branching, a conditional transformation. Culture fractures along this point, as it has done innumerable times throughout the Diaspora. There are those Jews still blessedly scattered, in Germany and France and England, in America and Brazil and Mexico, who are not that cybernetic beast which rules in the land of myth. Post-war Jews enter America like any European refugee — poor, newly christened, a swarm of quasi-whites to fill out the tenements of the eastern seaboard. Soon granted a conditional whiteness, Jewish culture in America assimilates, and a harmless if outdated form of Abrahamism lives happily, if neurotically, beside its Christian neighbor. But something else is at play in this assimilation: a recoding of traditional Jewish values. The conservative over-writing of Zionism and its importance to American interests abroad gets recoded as an ideological alliance, one of democracy, freedom, and “Judeo-Christian” solidarity. It becomes anti-Semitic to criticize a theocratic state which doubles as an occupying force, and in some places illegal to speak against, boycott, or otherwise demonstrate one’s opposition to the state and its functioning. This seeps even into in-group religious pedagogy: Western Jews are taught small — Israel is our homeland, the Israeli state is our state, and more than anything its survival is crucial to us if we are to avoid another Holocaust. As the American Jew grows older, we learn that there are enemies which stand in the way of peace in the Promised Land: the Palestinians, the Islamic-controlled United Nations, Iran, BDS, the left wing of the British Labour Party, et cetera. On fully-funded Birthright trips we are inundated with a strange freedom, away from home and where we're told we belong: we witness war, filtered through state agitprop and the narratives fed to us by trip chaperones, and it is easy to convince us of a multitude of falsehoods. 1948, the Camp David Accords, and a whole history of “negotiation” is presented as evidence of the Palestinian unwillingness to compromise. Intifadas become coordinated terrorist plots of foreign design in the mouths of Zionists, and a patriotic instinct already inculcated by its American brand transfers easily to this America-in-the-East, our other yet deeper, truer homeland, Israel, whose aggression is self-defensive and whose ultimate desire, perpetually stymied by Arab resentment, is multicultural peace among the nations. In our prayers for peace in the Middle-East, we sing, “...and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more...” while drone strikes obliterate schools and hospitals half a world away. An American (which remains distinct from the Israeli) value-system of capitalist democracy and patriotism works hard to overwrite the vestiges of European Jewish culture.
The modern nation-state of Israel stands brazenly amongst the wailing of our brutalized souls. It is one of the few authentic tragedies of our age, in the truest sense. Handed an opportunity to demonstrate the righteousness of Jewish cultural and theological ethics in welcoming, communalism, and justice, Zionism instead instigates a program of mass cruelty disguised as redemption, and channels Jewish hurt into immature, flagrant, and — most offensively to our deepest sensibilities — thoughtless violence. If there is one people who might know how to be an immigrant instead of a settler, a collaborator instead of a conqueror, it is the Jew, with two thousand years of experience! Wasted, wasted, all. “The LORD knows the works of man, that they are vanity!”55 The irony and tragedy of the Israeli travesty sickens like the thought of a lost love.
To walk the cobbled yellow streets of Jerusalem is to be drenched in tragedy. To hear fluctuations of that long dead desert language revived, see throngs of long-wandering Jews finally returned home — this should be joyful, it should be a comfort, a victory, a miraculous vision of Olam Ha-ba on earth, all our messianic dreams fulfilled. But with every step the foot lands on bloodstains, every alleyway secured with missiles and submachine guns, every cash register clang sounding in tandem with the charging handles of a thousand rifles. This place ought to be no home for Jews or Judaism — no Jew in the Holy Land ought to feel comfortable in their candlelit kitchen or shul, knowing the circumstances of its birth, and every fiber of our ethical sensibility ought to cry out with the violence we have wrought and demand of us a revolution of equal vigor as that of the Zionism of Herzl and Ben-Gurion, a Zionism which is a riot and a strike, a Zionism which is revolutionary restitution, a Zionism which is an atonement which should drown out a hundred years of Tisha B’av lamentations. This Zionism which is an Aufhebung of itself is a Zionism in the sense of its fervor, of its longing, and of its uncompromising Jewishness. It is a return to something holy, not a Holy Land but a Holy Time, an honoring, invigoration, and mobilization of the weak messianic power of all those who have died for the good cause; a World to Come not in the sense of rulership of the land but in the sense of submission and mortal dedication to the kingship of justice and mercy. It is truly messianic in that it is the reparative work of tikkun olam, the gathering of the shards, the making-whole of what is broken. Its Zion is the hopeless hope of messiah and the world to be brought, prepared for by our struggle. Its Zion is the making-good of the Jewish promise, the Jewish submission to what is greater than us, to justice, to lovingkindness, to peace, to the God of Israel which makes of us the impossible demand of restitution, of a teshuva which hurts. Anything else, and every moment of anything else, is an undying tragedy.
And we are not without hope, liberal statehood has not yet killed the speciousness of the Jewish nation. Despite the cultural hegemony of Westernized Zionism, especially in America, many cultural values survive: the primacy of education and scholarship fills the universities with a disproportionate number of Jews. The dedication to tikkun olam, the repairing of the world, and of tzedakah, giving, creates a powerful substrate of liberal and leftist Jews. It is no coincidence that most American Jews are liberal56 on almost every point except one: Israel, on which they almost unanimously side with conservatism. However, this is not all-encompassing, nor is it inevitable, and even now counter-strains leak in lignes de fuite. Jews against Zionism are deliberately underrepresented, despite their rapid, viral growth. And not just this brand of Judaism which now trends toward something like Unitarianism (the Reconstructionists) — no, even Hasids hold signs at anti-Zionist protests, alongside modern Orthodox and Conservative and Reform and Reconstructionist Jews. Jewish youth swell the ranks of radical left and anti-Zionist organizations. Notably, the Jewish activist group Never Again Is Now57 uncompromisingly calls for an end to migrant detention and mobilizes in direct actions which aim to directly disrupt the logistical process of detention. The attempt by multiple institutional apparati, including synagogues, public schools, and media conglomerates to obscure the category of genocide and make the Shoah the eternally singular instance of such a crime, to exalt the Israeli state as a bastion of freedom and democracy, and to villainize the humanity of the oppressed, is being subverted by those to whom the propaganda is sold most fiercely: Jewish youth themselves.
In this epistemic surge another ancient, mythic spirit is reborn, another going-beyond-man: the spirit of Yehuda the Maccabee, Judah the Hammer, who led his people to revolution and victory against Antiochus IV the Seleucid and his empire; the spirit of Josephus, who led the Jews in the Great Revolt against Emperor Gaius Caligula of Rome; the spirit of the Sicariis, ancient Judean assassins of the second revolt against Emperor Nero of Rome who martyred themselves holy atop Masada as the Romans built their industrial ladder; the spirit of Lukuas, who led the Judeans in the Kitos War against Quietus’ Roman legion, and who raged against the holocaust of the Temple; the spirit of Bar Kokhba, who led his Maccabees to lay their bodies against the Roman war machine in revolution and who was called Melech Moshiach, King Messiah; the spirit of Rabbi Akiva, who rode with Bar Kokhba and who screamed the Shema as Rome scraped steel over his flesh, and who was called Rosh L’hokhamim, Chief of the Sages; the spirit of Rabbi Yeshua of Nazareth, who preached chesed and who lashed the backs of bankers as he drove them bloody from the Beis HaMikdash, the Holy Temple; the spirit of the Bundists, who dreamed of a Marxian Zion, who fought with the Bolsheviks in Russia and against the Nazis in Poland; the spirit of Rosa Luxemburg, whose Spartacist revolution met brown shirts and Kaiserites in the streets with blood; the spirit of Emma Goldman, who led the Homestead Strike against the Carnegie Company where nine Pinkertons met Hashem without flesh; the spirit of Leon Trotsky, whose cadre led the October Revolution against Czar Nicholas in 1917 and liberated a continent; the spirit of the Jewish Fighting Organization, which led the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising against the Nazi regime in 1943, in order to “pick the time and place of our deaths”; the spirit of the twice-cursed Sonderkommando who in 1944 staged the Auschwitz-Birkenau revolt, blowing up part of Crematorium IV and killing three S.S. officers, and who died on their own terms in the blaze; the spirit of the Bielski and the Parczew partisans, who hunted German scalps in the white woods of Poland; the spirit of the Neturei Karta, Guardians of the City, Haredi Jews who agitate daily for the peaceful dismantling of the state of Israel, and call for our return to the long watch for Moshiach; the spirit of Never Again is Now, who obstruct the detention of migrants at the southern border and meet themselves in jail blocks. In this geist there is a down-going, a spirit which seeks to exceed itself, expand the limit of the possible — there is something here which, as it summons the full weight of itself across time, surrounds itself with a full collective body, a diasporic socius, and goes beyond man via a becoming-everyone, an aspirational becoming which leaves what is behind in order to insist on what ought to be, uncompromisingly and resolutely. And this becoming-everyone/everything is not limited as such to the adherents of the covenant; bound as these Hebraic übermenschen are to the interconnective imperatives of chesed, they become what they love. As this trend of revolutionary Judaism revives and grows, b’ezras HaShem, we might oust this virus of conservatism and predatory nationalism. We cannot return, ever, anywhere, but perhaps we can travel somewhere new, toward a Zion which is a globular spirit of rebellion against systems of oppression and control, a Zion which is a riot and a strike.
ו. Conclusion: Culture as Process and A Prayer for Vengeance
Perhaps now the above becomes clearer: Culture consists of beliefs, habits, actions, but not so simply. Culture is a lab-culture dropped in a swamp — watch it swell or die or find pockets of stasis. A belief: in a God, and in what type of a God; in a form of life, in its virtue; against other forms of life, in their vice; in a sense of time, and how it is thought; in a sort of world, and in an expectation of a lot in it; of sorts of people, and assumptions about these sorts…
Culture is a machine that works by breaking down. Objects in motion remain in motion, unless acted upon by an outside force; yet culture has always been in motion, and will always remain in motion — any outside force quickly becomes its inside, and merely augments its movement, incapable of ever wholly arresting its velocity. Any momentary stasis will soon break down, and through this breakage the movement of culture evolves: the culture-machine churns amidst a matrix of flows, consisting of input and output vectors of varying magnitudes. These introductions and deaths produce breaks-flows in the smooth functioning of the otherwise isolated technical machine... Breakages propel the churning ensemble. Culture is a machine that works by breaking down, and its favorite fuel is often violence. Culture is an assemblage, composed of the still-moving byproducts of these contingent collisions. Culture is, in a few words, the production of culture, the production of production, constantly re-producing itself in rhizomatic bursts which may or may not encourage or strangle culturo-diversity, constantly reinventing itself, conserving itself, obliviating itself, hacking and distributing itself, along tightly interconnected highways of immanent production.
Without fixity, feeding as it does upon contingency, culture is hackable, mutable, and influenceable, though not with any precise science or exact manipulation. Strategy, not science, is the name of the game: culture is always being manipulated by human beings with specific ends and agendas, flows of social libido redirected along desiro-ducts leading societal id from one path to another. Predatory viral crypto-fascism oozes from PragerU and Ben Shapiro, targeting the constitutionally vulnerable with an acute and effective sophistry. Truth has no attractive element nor compelling force of its own, no Eros: epistemic nominalism must be shattered via an acute metanoia aimed at a movement of breakage and reconsolidation. That is — it is not enough to merely destroy: we must destroy in such a way that the breakage conjugates new and better connectivities, more conducive to a human flourishing which is or ought to constitute our end, an end which is never to be reached and which changes in the process of achievement. Our strategy must be a bacterial cosmological propaganda which is more powerful than either truth or falsity, which libidinally incentivizes our victory and exposes what is necrophiliac, auto-cannibalistic, and predatory about our enemies. It is not enough to be antibodies to fascism’s virus, for a form of it lives anyway in the body which we would work to protect; we must be a bacterial flood, which drives our host to death and retakes its body to forge itself anew, a down-going which seizes man and goes beyond its imagined limits.
To the fallen:58
השם יקום דמם
To the living:59
בעזרת יי, שבצע מעשים נפלאים לאבות אבותינו בימי קדם, שבין האויבים הגועשים, זועמים על אף שהתנפלו אלינו, שברו את חברם במילתכם, הושייעו אותנו עכשיו משעבוד והכו את עובדינו מספר החיים
- Thomas, Michael, Resisting the Habit of Tlön: Whitehead, Borges, and the Fictional Nature of Concepts, (PDF, 2018), p. 5.
- Alternatives to language as speech-act still rely on consistent human physiology (signing for the deaf, braille for the blind, etc.)
- Thanks to Quinn McGarrigle for pointing out this weakness and on whose extensive notes much of the subsequent argument is based.
- An English which exists nowhere outside of Noam Chomsky’s own abstractions, an English constructed of homogenous signifying constants which must behave identically within certain repeatable instances of communication.
- Deleuze-Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (University of Minnesota Press, 1987), p. 102.
- Ibid, p. 103.
- Thomas, Michael, Resisting the Habit of Tlön: Whitehead, Borges, and the Fictional Nature of Concepts, (PDF, 2018), p. 5.
- Whitehead, Alfred North. Adventures of Ideas (New York, Free Press, 1967), pg. 275.
- Thomas, p. 5.
- Ibid, p. 13.
- Atwood, Margaret. Oryx and Crake, (New York, Anchor Books, 2003).
- Thomas, p. 5.
- Finch, Charles S, Nile Genesis: An Introduction to the Opus of Gerald Massey, (Tring Local History Museum, 2006), p. 9.
- In general, though he is certainly no quack, and though many of his claims find root in meaningfully substantial evidence, Massey is not considered to be a particularly rigorous practitioner of either archaeology or anthropology, and is often considered to be among a variety of scholars of questionable scientific and historical integrity who stretch Egyptological linguistic and cultural connections in order to support theses of only speculative legitimacy. However, for our purposes herein his empirical exactitude has little bearing on our rhetorical claims or theoretical illustrations and narrativizations.
- Finch, p. 10.
- Mother—not from the Sanskrit “Matar,” but rather the Egyptian “Mut,” the Emaner, the mouth, the chamber, and “AR,” the child, the thing made. Mut-AR is therefore the speaker, the generator, the holding-place for the child.
- Finch, p. 10.
- Mother—not from the Egyptian “Mut,” but rather the German “Mutter,” the procreator, the condition for the possibility of speech acts.
- Finch, p. 10-11.
- Mother—not from the German “Mutter,” but from the Dutch “Modder,” the “filth, dregs,” which are the wreckage of the afterbirth which is the physiological announcement of birth and actualization.
- Finch, p. 11.
- Mother—not from the Dutch “Modder” but from the Greek “Meter,” as found in “Demeter,” the goddess of harvest and fertility, the sacred emaner of life and the overseer of death.
- @Sturgeons_Law, www.twitter.com/Sturgeons_Law/status/1172463665531895809
- Post-Structuralist Tent Revival, Mystery Cults! With TJ Wellman: Part 1 (Soundcloud, 2019).
- See “Becoming-Jaguar” on the k-jax-technics blog, or the therein cited work Aztec Philosophy by James Maffie, for an exploration of conception of immanence in symbolism which divests from the idea of symbolic representation as a separation between the Real and the presentation in favor of a conception of performative aesthetic production, a performance which is a “becoming-” rather than a “representing.”
- This movement is typified by the liberal, secular subject inaugurated by the thinkers of the European enlightenment, notably John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Jean-Jaques Rousseau, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, etc.
- Thanks to Michael Thomas for his critical contribution regarding this historical spiritual movement.
- Nietzsche, Friedrich, On the Genealogy of Morality, Trans. Maudemarie Clark and Alan J. Swensen, (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1998), p. 24
- For further exploration of the Kemenite origins of Judaism, see Moses & Monotheism by Sigmund Freud.
- I am indebted here to Lewis Gordon, who spoke about this topic during a visiting lecture and inspired for me this line of inquiry.
- Duperon, Matthew. Lectures in Introduction to East Asian Religions at Susquehanna University, Fall 2017.
- Finch, p. 13. Quoting Massey (Massey, G., A Book of the Beginnings, (Williams and Norgate, 1881), Vol. II, 363)
- Ibid, p. 14.
- Osborne, Catherine, Presocratic Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction, (Oxford University Press), p. 62.
- This is not to be confused with the accelerationist concept of “patchwork” (which, to be frank, I don’t claim to have a great understanding of and hadn’t heard of at the time of writing). Taking the term (more or less) literally I simply mean to signify a connective relationship, a continual “patching” between two points often with wormhole-like skips and jumps, which is continually augmented based on the ever-growing mass of the past and its continual patching-into the present. This patching is done on purpose and disinterestedly causally (not that these are always oppositional) during the ongoing construction, deconstruction, and reconstruction of culture.
- Conroy, Oliver J, The Life and Death of John Chau, the Man Who Tried to Convert His Killers, (The Guardian, 2019)
- The Sentinelese (Survival International, 2020).
- Butler, Judith, Bodies That Matter, (Abingdon: Routledge, 2015), p. xxvii.
- This is not to be confused with the attempt to dissolve the distinction between appearance and reality I partially make in “Becoming-Jaguar”: the dissolution I support is a pragmatic one, one which recognizes that deceit is not “fake,” but itself productive of the Real: when you act “fake,” you are being “real,” in that you are performing something which is productive of reality. The Platonic distinction between appearance and reality is the one I wish to vacate. (And perhaps this distinction is more confusing than it’s worth, but I find some value in Cassirer’s formulation at least for the purposes of this post, as idealist and conservative as it is.) However, there might be a further way to distinguish appearance and reality. To be sure, when someone who has eaten your candy says “I did not eat your chocolate bar,” they are producing reality (or rather a virtuality) — this (real/virtual)ity, the one in which they are lying to you by discursively presenting a version of events; yet they are misrepresenting another reality, the one in which they in fact ate your chocolate bar. Being unable to distinguish a claim to truth (the Word of the Führer) from truth itself (that Jews do not in fact “control the world”) is characteristic of the (cynical) mythic consciousness which I am attempting to elucidate.
- It is perhaps more constructive to conceive of this movement as a sort of regressive return to, rather than cynical appropriation of, a past form: the evolution of gods and the divine myths follow structures of power in the societies where they form. The divinity of kings evolves into the divine right of kings, which proceeds to the Magna Carta and the democratization of western governance, itself based upon a Protestant derivation of divine sovereignty. So, Nazism’s return to myth is not merely a “cynical appropriation” of, but a cynical return to, the concentration of divine mythos in the leader of the nation, as found, notably, in Akhenaten’s Kemet, wherein Akhenaten himself was seen as avatar of Aten-Re, the one God. (Thanks to Michael Thomas for his critical contribution regarding this distinction here.)
- Cassirer, Ernst, The Myth of The State, (1946), p. 116 .
- Skitolsky, Lissa, Cassirer’s View of the ‘Meaning’ of Nazism, p. 1.
- Cassirer, p. 124.
- This causal explanation of the Shoah is undeniably idealist and a bit conservative. Emmanuel Levinas (below) presents a more compelling, libidinal case for the embracing of fascism. Still other hypotheses have formulated materialist accounts (Mark Levene seeks a causal narrative in the stated goal of some of the Nazi cadre of free labor in the camps, e.g.) of the phenomenon of Nazi anti-semitism, but these typically have the inverse problem of Cassirer’s in that they provide no accounting of the forces of libidinal desiring at play.
- Levinas, Emmanuel, Some Thoughts on the Philosophy of Hitlerism, p. 15.
- Nietzsche, Friedrich, On the Genealogy of Morality, Trans. Maudemarie Clark and Alan J. Swensen, (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1998), p. 82.
- Levinas, p. 18-19.
- Ibid, p. 19.
- Ibid, p. 20.
- And in the present by the violent shame of Germany’s genocidal past—who have we but ourselves to blame for the rising popularity of neo-fascism in Germany? Again have we shamed the German for the crimes of their fathers, and again they react with a cynical valuation of body and country!
- Weizman, Eyal, The Art of War: Deleuze, Guattari, Debord and the Israeli Defense Force, (Metamute.org, 2006).
- Yizhar, S. Khirbet Khizeh, (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2014).
- The Jew outside the Holy Land is a confused creature, with a mixed-up legacy. In America there are the socialist Jews, few enough and mostly young, kibbutzniks who take after the humanism of chesed and tikkun olam, and who reject the New Myth of the Return, descended from the Trotskyite and Luxemburgian legacy of Brooklynite radicalism to Californian luxury socialism. And there are those laissez-faire Jews who have not even the Israeli’s admirable will-to-power, who push Zionism with a deep ressentiment, levelling bitterness and accusations of anti-Semitism to work their way deeper into the political machine. Then there are those Protestantized Jews in their high-ceilinged synagogues who might be of any type, whose God has been subtly replaced by the Christian's God of Love, who have lost their distinctiveness and who host pine trees in their living rooms on the winter solstice. Their Zionism is little more than Americanism, and whether liberal or conservative it reeks of the blood fervor of Evangelical war hawks and the ethno-reaction of Richard Spencer. (Of course these types are broad, and cannot capture the fecundity of American Jewry, much less the rest of global Jewry, but for our purposes these are hopefully illustrious enough to provide a sense of scope).
- Tehillim 94:11
- This is in no way an endorsement of liberalism in any of its forms, but it certainly is relevant that the humanist values of Jewish culture are often successfully captured by American liberalism, save for this single issue. It would certainly be a mischaracterization to avoid the fact that the humanist bent of the Jewish value system, like many well-meaning humanist bents, is often successfully redirected into liberalism. However, as stated, this bent also contributes to the current and growing proliferation of Jews into decidedly non-liberal leftist orgs and spaces.
- Conley, Julia, 36 Arrested As Hundreds of Jewish Protestors Block Road To Migrant Detention Center, (CommonDreams.org, 2019)
- Hashem Yikom Dama - May God avenge their blood.
- B'ezras HaShem, shebitzea ma’ashoiym nuf'laiym l'avos avoseynu biymey kedem, shebeyn haoy'viym hagoashiym, zoamiym al af shehis'nap'lu aleynu, shav'ru es khav'ram b'miylaskhem, hoshiyu osanu akh'shav mishoi'bud v'hiku es avadeynu mi’sefer hakhayiym! - With God’s help, who performed wondrous deeds for our ancestors in days of old, who amid the raging foes, furious though they assailed us, broke their sword with your word, deliver us now from bondage and strike our slavers from the Book of Life!