(Elliot Wolfson) Zoharic Philosophical Nocturne (New York State Fair 2016)

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Wandering around the rides at the Midway at night at the New York State Fair reading through and getting my head around Elliot Wolfson’s excellent 2014 phenomenological dive into modern Jewish philosophy. I’ll soon post more about Giving Beyond the Gift: Apophasis and Overcoming Theomania, but this is what drew me the other night reading through the chapter on Levinas. The aesthetic consciousness reflected in this book is nocturnal. I wondered about that and what I came to consider is that the perspective is a romantic zoharic one. Readers of the German romantics will recall Novalis’ Hymns to the Night about which I posted previously from the State Fair a couple of years back.  But readers of the Zohar should already have been familiar with the  midnight rites of the zoharic kabbalists, the copulations of King Tiferet  and Matronita, the night flights of the soul. Nocturnality appears in Elliot’s book first on p.110 with reference to Levinas, Celan, and Blanchot. And then there’s this on “the phantasmagoria of the dream,” read as the “disappearance of the dreamer’s subjectivity in the folds of the dream.” Elliot cites and paraphrases Irigaray, writing on “nocturnal luster” being the “source of lightning” that glistens in the ‘excess of what is withheld from vision.'” Now citing Levinas, “There is nothing, but there is being, like a field of forces” (pp.112-3).

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish though and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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2 Responses to (Elliot Wolfson) Zoharic Philosophical Nocturne (New York State Fair 2016)

  1. dmf says:

    I had a patient explain to me that when he was in his more florid paranoid states (usually when off his meds) he felt like he was being pushed and pulled thru zones of fields of attraction and repulsion sometimes emanating from objects/subjects, sometimes more diffuse (but still about locals) like heideggerian moods.
    these photos are like a bad flashback to the 80’s netherworld world of angel dusted club kids on the lower east side

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