Ph.D. Octopus

Politics, media, music, capitalism, scholarship, and ephemera since 2010

Quote of the Day

with 2 comments

by nems81

A great passage touching on Easter and Utopia written by a non-Christian. Take it away George Steiner:

There is one particular day in Western history about which neither historical record nor myth nor Scripture make report. It is a Saturday. And it has become the longest of days. We know of that Good Friday which Christianity holds to have been that of the Cross. But the non-Christian, the atheist, knows of it as well. This is to say that he knows of the injustice, of the interminable suffering, of the waste, of the brute enigma of ending, which so largely make up not only the historical dimension of the human condition, but the everyday fabric of our personal lives. We know, ineluctably, of the pain, of the failure of love, of the solitude which are our history and private fate. We know about Sunday. To the Christian, that day signifies an intimation, both assured and precarious, both evident and beyond comprehension, of resurrection, of a justice and a love that have conquered death. If we are non-Christians or non-believers, we know of that Sunday in preciously analogous terms. We conceive of it as the day of liberation from inhumanity and servitude. We look to resolutions, by they therapeutic or political, be they social or messianic. The lineaments of that Sunday carry the name of hope.

But ours is the long day’s journey of the Saturday. Between suffering, aloneness, unutterable waste on the one hand and the dream of liberation, of rebirth on the other. In the face of the torture of a child, of the death of love which is Friday, even the greatest art and poetry are almost helpless. In the Utopia of the Sunday, the aesthetic will, presumably, no longer have logic or necessity. The apprehensions and figurations in the play of metaphysical imagining, in the poem and the music, which tell of pain and of hope, of the flesh which is said to taste of ash and of the spirit which is said to have the savour of fire, are always Sabbatarian. They have risen out of an immensity of waiting which is that of man. Without them, how could we be patient?

(hat tip: James Hawley)


Written by Julian Nemeth

April 4, 2010 at 09:32

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. atheism is a religion, that’s what I believe…the only real honest way to approach spirituality is to one, say you don’t fucking know. and two, to struggle to celebrate the mystery of whatever it is, we all are…but to deny God or spirituality straight out on the account “science” or “reason” or whatever, is no different than somebody taking the Bible as a literal document. It’s an ignorance.


    April 4, 2010 at 12:50

  2. Steve,

    While a non-believer myself, I think many atheists could learn to have more of an appreciation for religious traditions (instead of simply listing the litany of religiously motivated crimes against humanity), and tone down their positivist faith in science. I share many of the sentiments Terry Eagleton expresses here:


    April 5, 2010 at 11:06

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