The so-called abyss

An excerpt from my favorite literary critic:

From a normative Jewish or Christian point of view, catastrophe is allied to the Abyss, and creation is associated with an order imposed upon the Abyss. But from a Gnostic perspective, catastrophe is true creation because it restores the Abyss, while any order that steals its materials from the Abyss is only a sickening to a false creation.

I can anticipate a number of objections. First of all, what is this capitalized “abyss?” Are we being invited to join some kind of romantic cult? Isn’t this a little too fantastic for our world, which we know is really political through and through? I would say yes to all of the above, but then I would also say that I do know an abyss, which might be glossed as utter solitude in both life and death. Or it might be a lack of meaning, with the salutary realization that all “meanings” are kind of like artworks, just made up stuff. In any case, in the era of economic failure and constant war it’s hardly naive to talk about an abyss. Naïveté belongs to those who think they can take refuge in a common humanity, which would be a shared error. Secondly, how can anyone identify exactly what is a “false creation?” Well, those who think that art is purely a matter of consensus certainly won’t be able to do so. Shared ideas, beliefs, standards, morals and tastes weave a curtain in front of the abyss, but the key term here is sickening, an apt descriptor for bad art.

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