The Odd Coincident and the Empty Positing of Meaning (with a Laugh, and now with an update)

Posted: December 18, 2010 in Uncategorized

(Update I, II below)

In John Barth’s wondrous fictional mediation on the  ultimate emptiness of the real and the artificiality of meaning construction,  ”The Floating Opera” (1956, Barth’s first novel which is considered one of the first Anglo-American works of Postmodern fiction), the main protagonist of the tale (which he details with horrific kindness and deceitful empathy) recounts the humorous insight of  forcing himself to “look away” from the arbitrary coincidences of the world in order not to be gathered up in the nonsensical positing of meaning onto the barren material of brute and vacant existence.

With This Said, however, I give you a video of the odd, and determinately sublime, coincident – the Pope finding himself being entertained by a troop of, quite statuesque and bare-chested, Chinese Acrobats.  The Odd Coincident may be no grounds for reading meanings into the world, but even Barth’s anti-hero was in awe (with a laugh) of how humans were constantly confronted with these “events” which would sweep and seduce us to a myriad of pointless generalizations and conclusions.  Here then, a Barthian coincident of strange proportion:

update I:

Pope Benedict gave his Christmas address (Monday, 20 December 2010) to the Roman Curia and in the midst of this Proclamation started wondering about pedophilia and the Catholic Church.  His musings were in the form of the question “We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen.”   However his conclusion seems to be that it is the generalized fault of society and our horrid embrace of values which he seems not to share.  I would guess it is our growing tolerance of the peripheral groups in our societies and our finally bestowing basic civil rights to these groups (or maybe just our use of birth control!).  However, in the ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI ON THE OCCASION OF CHRISTMAS GREETINGS TO THE ROMAN CURIA, he wants to make sure we don’t look at the structure of the church as the breeding ground of these problems but, instead, the rest of us in society must bear the blame for the transgressions of the clergy because the liberal inclinations we have makes immorality come to be “considered more and more normal by society.” Good to know.

Update II:

I guess I wasn’t the only one to react to the papal address.  Here some of the victims voice their thoughts about the Pope’s “insights” regarding this matter (with some strange rewriting of history involved):

Victims of clerical sex abuse have reacted furiously to Pope Benedict’s claim yesterday that paedophilia wasn’t considered an “absolute evil” as recently as the 1970s.

In his traditional Christmas address yesterday to cardinals and officials working in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI also claimed that child pornography was increasingly considered “normal” by society.

“In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorised as something fully in conformity with man and even with children,” the Pope said.

“It was maintained — even within the realm of Catholic theology — that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a ‘better than’ and a ‘worse than’. Nothing is good or bad in itself.”

The Pope said abuse revelations in 2010 reached “an unimaginable dimension” which brought “humiliation” on the Church.

Asking how abuse exploded within the Church, the Pontiff called on senior clerics “to repair as much as possible the injustices that occurred” and to help victims heal through a better presentation of the Christian message.

“We cannot remain silent about the context of these times in which these events have come to light,” he said, citing the growth of child pornography “that seems in some way to be considered more and more normal by society” he said.”

What? What historical revisionism can even begin to explain the sentence: “In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorised as something fully in conformity with man”?  And the theological distinctions to make this work that follow are, to say the least, Nietzschean (who the pope may not feel inclined to be a believer along side.  Click link to see the one of the top ten’s of Nietzsche the “Death of God”).

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