Slavoj Zizek God in Pain Inversions of Apocalypse conversation with Jack Miller

[Music] thank you good evening good evening and welcome to allowed at Central Library i'm louise Steinman the program director for the library foundation of los angeles and tonight philosopher and cultural critic slavic author of god in pain inversions of apocalypse subjects the three major faith-based religions - a respectful but ruthless critical examination in conversation with God's own biographer Jack miles so we think it's a great matchup we're sorry that Boris Oh Guney evich was able to join us tonight but as planned but I can assure you it's going to be a very lively evening nonetheless philosopher provocateur and cultural critic Slava jiseok is internationally recognized for his work on psychoanalysis he grew up in the former Yugoslavia well located as he's noted to see what was going on and well inoculated to resist any illusions about the east or the west he teaches at the European Graduate School and has been a visiting professor at the University of Paris Columbia and Princeton among other institutions he's the founder and president of the Society for theoretic psychoanalysis in Ljubljana Slovenia and has now written more than 50 books and had his work translated into 20 languages his book topics range from Christianity to the films of David Lynch and his work as I'm sure you know cuts across disciplines his recurring themes are ideologies revolution and love he's a master of counterintuitive thinking and a keen observer indeed a connoisseur of the paradoxes that underpin our perception of reality inquiring minds around the world are invigorated and expanded by Slovaks ability to connect the minissha of popular culture to the big abstract problems of existence and as he is said I believe the first duty of philosophy is making you understand what deep you're in our interlocutor tonight is Jack miles who was game for an aloud rematch with lovely jiseok jack is senior fellow for religious affairs with the Pacific Council on international policy and he's distinguished professor of English and religious studies at UC Irvine he's been a MacArthur Fellow won the Pulitzer in 1996 forgot a biography which has been translated into 16 languages and he's currently general editor of the forthcoming Norton Anthology of world religions Jack is an inspiring and generous member of LA's intellectual community and the world of ideas and I can tell you if the conversation in the green room is any indication you're in for a great evening please welcome Slavik and Jack Myles good evening everybody and welcome to pleasure to be with you again this evening we're going to be talking about softly Jack's new book God in pain in versions of Apocalypse let me begin with a subtitle what is an inversion of apocalypse apocalypse is a proclamation that the world is about to end so an inversion of apocalypse must be then in some sense a proclamation that the world is about to begin and if it is god invulnerable god immutable omnipotent eternal who is most associated with the world ending then perhaps there is a connection between God in pain and the world about to begin that's topic that we will find our way around to during the course of the evening I thought that I might begin drawing a kind of line from the very beginning of my book God a biography to the subject matter of this book that book begins of course with the beginning of the Tanakh the Hebrew Scriptures where God creates the world rather as a host might prepare a home for entertaining a distinguished guest and who is that distinguished guest the distinguished guest is the human species it is the first couple of the man and the woman and what is God's a motive for for creating a humankind it is because he wants an image of himself he decides to create this pair in his own image and likeness and why does anyone want an image why do you look in the mirror you look in the mirror because you want to see yourself you have your portrait drawn because you want to look at it so in what way slava way his mind is spinning is racing here I mean I can I can kind of feel the vibrations in what way is God in pain the fulfillment of God's wish is Jesus Christ on the cross the fulfillment of God's wish to see himself that's a good question and from what I I don't know a lot know of you know this much more history of theology this was a great topic of debates not only this but even the most elementary questions like whenever I'm in debate sometimes Europe I am with especially Catholic Bishops and so on I noticed how often it is easy to embarrass them by asking the most elementary questions like once I ask them why did God have to die on the cross and they looked at me as if I'm asking a prohibited questions and it's true because you know like the moment you go into this exchange of commodities topic like to pay the price for our sins you are lost it doesn't work first to pay the price for our sins to whom you must know this better than me the only consequent answer would be that there should be another guy like the devil and this was I think one of the early heresies know that that God says to the devil I love humanity so much that I give you my son ransom afraid to say yeah yeah yeah yeah that's so that then some people claim it is so that it is because justice must be done I we are in paganism here which means as if there is even above God this is typical as in pre-christian idea that God is not really the top there is a kind of a cosmic destiny justice to which even God has to be subordinated then the worst answer for me is because if God were just to pardon us without the spectacle of death on the cross then we wouldn't be grateful to God but wait a minute God becomes here a disgusting narcissist who really wants to be laughed and you know it's like PR of God let's do a nice spectacle so that and so the most obscene answer here for me is that of Nicholas Mille Brahms who says that God created humanity he goes even further from this mirror image he says God wanted to be admired he even goes as far as to say that without Jesus Christ's sacrifice we wouldn't all be lost but we would all be redeemed automatically mal Braun says directly got through through us all into sin so that he could save some of us to show gratitude so we have here clearly what we call a perverse God so you know what I mean what I mean by this I'm not just I hope losing our precious times what I want to say is this is not an argument against Christianity but quite of the contrary it makes my point which i think at least at some level consonants if I may also use like you this terminology from our youth hippie era we have a positive vibration sphere with what you said that there is something that is a little bit impenetrable even today something tremendous happens in the very focus of Christian experience which is then covered covered up with the usual dogma and so on and so on which is why I love maybe you know the anecdote historical one when Napoleon was crowned Emperor by the Pope you know what happened that's the legend the Pope approached him with the crown Napoleon took the crown and put it himself on his head and then that's the story Pope told Napoleon something wonderful he told him I know what you want to do you want to ruin the church let me tell you you will fail because we Catholic institutions are trying to do this to wrinkle Shani for 2,000 years we didn't succeed you will not so what I'm saying is that are not to provoke Christians but to bring us to the central experience which I claim is today more precious than ever I like to focus on these problematic points like for example another question which are used to embarrass my Catholic friends which is I just has been with all innocence how exactly do you read you can imagine me as an old-fashioned communist car like that those fact statements from the gospel you know I don't bring peace and love I bring swirl and fire if you don't hate your parents bla bla bla you are not my follower how do you read this because then I noticed that there is a whole system of the traumatising this statement you know like no God doesn't like one Catholic theologian told me yeah you shouldn't read it too literally it just means that God you know they gave me a kind of a shitty Jedi version from Star Wars this you know the the the obi-wan Kenobi stuff don't get too attached to earthly object like you can love your neighbors but you should love me more which is for me and ridiculous obscenity as if God is a jealous guy who said love your wife okay but remember I'm here I want to be loved a little bit much the best answer was given to me by a polish bishop who when I asked him this question what do those lines mean told me it was very funny told me my god I wasn't prepared for this question why did you and I told him like s-sorry to use the word again f three-point you you had time 2000 years to prepare for this race you're like it's not that I brought something he knew now it's in the Bible but again I'm not saying this to provoke I think this bring us to the challenge and my very simple solution to this challenge is that when when in the Bible it said if you don't hate your father mother it's not father mother as persons is father mother stands for entire power edifis social hierarchy that's for me one of the big news of Christianity an egalitarian community outside of social here he is possible that for me the big news in other maybe I'm here to Preston but nonetheless in other so-called pagan religions in order to achieve this point of let's call it absolute equality it's only in death or in nirvana where all structures dissolve but this idea that you can have a collective and this is for me what Holy Ghost is an egalitarian collective outside hierarchical structure this for me for example is a tremendous tremendous news and so on and so on something unheard of and when you mentioned earth God God in pain my reading soon I will finally answer a question apocalypse the end to the world and so on for me the key was always the book of Job which I think if you permit me to say this it will sound a provocation but a minute extremely seriously in an engaged way is the first great work of critic of ideology if I were to do you know like the best of critic of ideology forget about Marx Freud let's begin with the book of Job why are you aware what a tremendous thing happens there we know ok let's let's let's forget about that stuff I think it doesn't matter you know that comical part you know at the beginning how they have a nice evening lunch together God and devil and a debate that but what happened that is that ok things go terribly wrong for a job and then ideology enters the three or four theological friends can remember and each of them tries to convince job that there is a deeper meaning to his suffering the point is not that is guilty or not the point is that you know the first one says even if you think you did nothing wrong God is just so you must have done something wrong without knowing idea guys gotta stress testing to blah blah and I think the greatness of job is that he doesn't say I'm innocent he just exists no all these catastrophes that felonies have no meaning and then comes the first occurs the first miracle God comes you remember and says every word that you job said is true he totally dismisses any justification theological and then comes the crucial point well I follow my beloved Gilbert Keith Chesterton then nonetheless job as God okay but let's I put it in popular Turin but let's cut the crap nonetheless why did all this happen to me then for me I wonder how you would react to it and here on Chesterton side it's the big enigma that answer by God you know where were you when I was creating these dead monsters is usually read as an extreme arrogance of God emphasizing the infinite gap that separates us from God's total perspective like who are you a tiny piece of even knowing that Chesterton does something which is for me so shockingly simple but profound he turns around the perspective and his gods answer is for Chester T that is the following one you think you are in trouble but look at the entire universe that I created it's all one big mess everything goes wrong and so on that it's that it that in a recent way like God expresses his perplexity at his own creation I think that this is maybe an incredible ethical revolution because this is already the first step out of this traditional bag and view where justice means you should be at your own place do your particular duty and so on and so on you know this withdrawal which then I think culminates in the death of Christ what dies on the cross for me not the messenger of God it's not that God is up there he sent his son okay sorry guys you screwed it up now maybe in thousand years another Messiah astragal says what dies on the cross is God of beyond himself it's precisely God as dead transcendent power which somehow secretly pulls the strings this is I think the secret of Christianity that precisely god no longer can be conceived as you know we are in we don't know what's going on but we can be assured that there is nonetheless an old guy up there who secretly pulls the strings and so on and so on this God abdicates I think that something tremendous happens in Christianity because remember after the death of Christ we don't get back to the Father what we get is Holy Spirit Holy Spirit is the egalitarian community bound by love you know what Christ says when he's asked how we will be recognized if you are here when there is love between the two of you I am there it's just the imminence of an emancipatory collective this was the deepest insight of even good conservative geologists like Paul Trudel definitely not a communist no said something very profound he said the deepest lesson of Christianity is not we can trust God but God can't do anything without us God has to trust us so for me again this is a tremendously important message of freedom again as my beloved Chesterton said it's not a jet set in all other religions you have a taste people who don't believe in God but Chesterton's reading of those famous le le lama sabachthani for the ratio forsaken me is that only in Christianity and for him Jesus Russia God Himself becomes for a moment and a taste and this is so tremendously important for me ARP I think far from this fashionable idea that the Christian era you know all that Aquarius it's over and we are entering a new era yes we are but I don't like this new year I see no neo-paganism and so on I claim that today precisely we should stick to this tremendous explosive impact we are still not ready to confront it of what Christianity is truly telling us which is why I like to say paradoxically that to be an atheist but don't be afraid not in the Richard Dawkins Christopher Hitchens sense but this authentic atheism in the sense of experiencing the radical absence of any transcendent guarantee and in this sense for me Stalinist communists or some Darwinists are not a taste you know they always have some higher figure of necessity and so on you have to go through Christianity my formula is not just that I try to give some a taste reading of Christianity how God is really Mendez but that only through the Christian experience can you reach the abyss of what I call it a ISM for me which is something again much more radical than all the of Richard Dawkins and so on my problem with them is that of course in some stupid sense it's true what they are saying we are probably the result of evolution and so on and so on but but it simply absolutely doesn't work if there is absolutely no insight for me in Dawkins and so on of how a religion effectively works it's a whole dimension is missing that there even I claim mostly totally wrong about the status of belief belief is for me something very mysterious like do we really believe how do we believe I claim that in contrast to doubt conservative critics who blame we are entering an era of disbelief godless world hedonist and so on and so on I disagree totally first we don't live in an era of hedonism we live in an era of strictly controlled regulated jeezum you know like what you mean by this on my flight from Europe here I read in hemispheres the Journal of United Airlines one of the most depressing articles that I've read it was an article celebrating sex why sex is good but it describes it in this pragmatic terms they say a good orgasm helps heart working blood circulation is good kissing certifies your lips and so on whatever good I don't know it's an you know desist ow yes sex but healthy sex yes drink but beer without alcohol whatever whatever the only true hedonist today are those who take drugs and especially for some strange reason those who smoke and this is why to avoid a misunderstanding I don't smoke and I agree should screw the companies but nonetheless there is something deeply symptomatic in how we in this obsession with the danger of smoking like I had a wonderful experience in Chicago half a year ago in front of a hotel I was waiting for a friend to pick me up and there was a distinguished old black gentleman there smoking and he told me of course with a little bit of irony but nonetheless there was a bitter truth deny he told me that he's from the south and when he was very young he still remembers racism I mean how he was oppressed at black and then he said but it's not as bad as now being compressed for smoking you know because just think about in Hollywood who is smoking today mostly terrorists who are afraid to blow themselves up and so on and so on this is the truth organism as to believe it's not true we believe more than ever we just invented something absolutely breathtaking that belief in order to function to operate don't have to be first-person beliefs you can literally believe through others you know you know the formula of parents like we are atheist but not to disappoint our children we pretend to believe you know the Santa story you know you ask a parent do believe in Santa Claus yet are you stupid of course not I buy the present but I pretend it for my children then you ask the children do you believe the said no we pretended not to disappoint our parents and together like what my point here you have a belief which is nobody's belief no one believes in the first person but it fully functions as a sole social belief here and now I will stop I will not go the full Fidel Castro way of talking for seven hour here you did a mega contribution by you I mean United States especially you here Hollywood your greatest contribution to 20th century world culture I would claim is sorry my old joke can't laughter you know are you aware what a strange phenomenon this is you return in the evening home you open up stupid show like French tears and you are too tired to laugh you just look and the TV set laughs for you it works at least with me afterwards I feel relieved as if I was laughing so much about primitive people we claim because we have traditional examples of this like you know the Buddhist prayer we you write prayer you put it there you turn around the wheel and you can think about pornography whatever in reality you are praying we are the same this is Kent laughter and I claim that beliefs function in a strictly homologous way what we need is not believe in first-person we need to believe that there is someone who believes even if that someone is purely hypothetical so for me the truly Christian gesture now I am approaching the end is precisely to to abandon the word objectified belief like let me give you now I conclude an example of what I mean and I hope you will agree that it would make the movie much better probably we all know Roberto Benigni Sriram I don't like it la vita bella' is beautiful you know the story father can are taken to Auschwitz father in order to save the trauma the son to protect him for the trauma tells him a story that this is not really prison is just a big competition site where is you we can leave whenever we want but if you remain to the end there will be a big price and so on and so on you know what would have been a way I wonder if you agree to make it a much better desperate film that the father were to discover at the very end when he to be shot that the son knew this all the time just he pretended to believe his father to protect him this would be the propel Christian reversal as it were and the movie again this is why I don't like it it's not strong enough about it maybe it's time for me to stop please well it was very good for a warm-up in other words but where is the beef I will you have to deliver something when you mean stop bullshitting I got the message okay are you you you did actually get round to answering the question that I that I that I began with but I'm going to digress for for just a moment with the reminiscence when I first moved to to California in 1978 I was attending a dinner party and a woman I didn't know I had never met before I came up to me toward the end of the party and she said I trust you you're a trustworthy person and uh she went on to say that she and her husband had decided to to leave Southern California they didn't like it that there were so many Mexicans here and they were going to go to Tasmania and begin a new life in Tasmania Australia right and but they weren't sure that the Tasmania would work out for them so they wanted someone to occupy their house which was a beautiful house overlooking the Pacific for a full year rent-free would I be willing to do this so I said I was willing to do this and then I discovered where they got their money he was a laugh engineer you mean for defend laughter and yes he traveled all over the country with with very sophisticated recording equipment and he would record the laughter of little girls on a picnic he would record the laughter of men in a sex club he would he would record polite laughter in church or at a graduation every age he also had ethnic divisions you know laughter in a in a black restaurant you know everything everything was a little bit different and he gave me some demonstrations he had it all it carefully worked out and then it would go from titters you know to - chuckles - before - you know how it starts sometimes one person gives a little laugh and then it's friends and then he had he also had ways of having the left to rise and then die down but then it start up again on universe' it was very seriously engineered and his office looked like an airplane cockpit you know was full of all those controls can you connect this what really intrigued me to the two previous facts that they dislike Mexicans and did they trust at you do you see a link here I mean I would lie I mean this is my theoretical obsession you know I always like to make a system like alive I mean I have been my I have been taken in the course of my lifetime for Russian for Polish for Armenian once an Arab a guy came up to me in Jerusalem and and said to me I saw your friend I knew immediately he was an American I saw you I knew right away you were an Armenian but I've never been taken for Mexican so I that was at least one strike in my favor that I I was not a one of them otherwise I think it was um it was probably that touch of the clergyman that I still carry with me from my ten years as a judge with seminarian oh yeah yeah although this is lucky for you because I found this I don't celebrate this it's very sad but you know after all these pedophilia scandals in Europe no not all clergymen but Catholic priests are precisely the guys you shouldn't trust that's the idea no an Irish friend told me that Irish mothers are now telling you know when you send your kid in the evening to the store don't talk to foreigners especially if they are priests you know and I'm not making fun of this I mean it's a very very sad event I think because here I'm a very traditional moralist my god we need maybe more than ever serious authentic moral authorities and I'm not here playing Christopher Hitchens jumping with joy when church is losing its its authority and so on no I'm just saying that maybe we agree here maybe if you allow me let's pretend to be democratic even if we have mothered I can also ask you a question for me church is today at the church authentic religious feeling at a big crossroad on the one hand yes it can be an incredible mobile of authentic liberation but I'm not here playing simply the humanist card of that we can use it as a prop it's an absolutely authentic experience subjective experience and so on at the same time it can be as we can see terribly misuse I violently agree with again this Richard Dawkins brand but you know one of the partitions of this aggressive atheism I think it was Steven Weinberg said something which unfortunately it makes me sad has just an element not more of truth you know when he said that without religion good people would be doing good things bad people bad things but you need something like religion to make good people do bad things unfortunately there is an element of truth in it in what sense listen I will be very simplistic here we all are I hope so just at least most of us relatively decent people like sorry to be personal if somebody were to tell me now here we have a knife pick out this guy's eyes and the out I would find sorry to tell you some problems with is not so I'm relieved yes so we do need some strong meat Oh poetic structure religion nationalist meat as it were to serve as a screen and to convince us that the horrors we are doing can be transubstantiated into a higher deeper meaning whatever which is why I think it's enough for a philosophy to be blamed you know we philosophers and blamed for everything plateaued the first Attila Terry and whatever why not start also with poetry it's not an accident that the leader of Bosnian Serbs Radovan Karadzic was the poet I claim to give you to provoke you the formula no ethnic cleansing without poetry or something like poetry no no I love authentic poets what I'm saying is that you must be as it were decent-sized in some sense to be able to do Horrors like rape ethnic cleansing and so on and I claim that it's it's precisely this kind of ethnic founding mythic community founding poetry or sacred texts religions which can also do the job and for example it's not only we in the primitive Balkans remember some it was over ten years ago Rwanda Massacre I asked friends yes there is now there a great poet who for 20 years was laying the foundations for the slaughter that happened and so on and so on so this is for me the mega mega dilemma today I mean how to how to find the way here because you you know like for me the message of Christianity is precisely the opposite of this need for transcendence you know like what's the usual explanation of fundamentalisms today that people are afraid of freedom they they diss opening so they lack firm value so they take refugee in old structures no as I've written as I'm writing for 15 years I think this is only part of the truth there is also the opposite truth which is which was I was taught it when I visited Belgrade incognito in early 90s and met some people who were probably ethnic lines laughs and you know they gave me almost the lesson of a lifetime they told me you know for me they told me modern world is not worked with to my world a world with too much freedom but it's too oppressive like you have to follow rules all the way down you know like he told me frankly I cannot speak dirty it's politics correct I cannot even beat my wife and so on and so on they experienced modern reality is too regulated and for them becoming ethnic fundamentalist opened up a space for a kind of false non attending freedom sorry yes so like you know I'm doing work on behalf of my nation everything is permitted okay let's replay let's steal whatever you want which is why I think Jacques Lacan my psychoanalytic master figure was right when he turned around the stare skis famous if there is no God then everything is permitted no if there is God but in a non authentic fundamentalist way where you pretend to be an instrument of God then everything was permitted to you so again things are here much more complex Arthur Koestler said that the altruism of the individual was the egoism of the group and vox populi vox Dei if God is substituted by by the people then you can do anything in the name of the people and that was that that ethnicity that you just related to can operate even where you have a multi-ethnic state you can you can do things in the name of democracy that you would never permit yourself as a decent individual that's what you were talking about but also what I find interesting here is nonetheless that with people it gets a little bit more complex but I agree with your namely in what sense you know people are never just people one should always take a closer look as who pretends to speak for the people there lies the catch you know in I think that para donar the individuals you also have have the fact that those who who who claim to speak for the people if they are poets if they have that eloquence then they can mobilize that that capacity that we do have as human beings and it's a marvelous capacity but corrupt you Optima pessimal you know the it is the worst of our capacities when when misused and that is our capacity to give our capacity to immolate to be self sacrificial you have to go to transcend our or narrow our personal needs this is this is human greatness at its best but at its worst it makes the individual a tool of the worst demagogues even a self self exploiting tool because for example this is what always at first yes I deeply agree with you which is why I even agree here it's a little bit too simple but it has an element of truth the famous distinction by jean-jacques rousseau between the proper good egotism and perverted self-love she says that authentic egotism is in itself not bad because you can really for your own good but then you rationally discover that you can only be happy when others also a book that he locates the problem interval later was called resentment Envy and so on this fatal moment when you focus on what you perceive as the obstacle to your welfare show that destroying the obstacle means to you more than your own good you know like we in Slovenia my nation we are supposed to be and I'm tend to agree the nation of resentment which is why we have numerous stories like for example a fairy or magician appears to a farmer and says listen I will give you a cow but what I warn you I will give two cows to your neighbor giving farmer says no rather take a cow of mine kill her eat but take all the two off from the neighbor and so on and so on you know Lee like the other guy losses is more important that Goods just like one of the parables of Jesus so that the workers in the vineyard yeah he he promises a worker given amount in the in the morning boar agrees to that he should be happy it's a good wage but then the day is one half gone and here is a couple other workers and he gives them the same wage and at the end and the day is almost over anyhow yet further workers and he gives them the same wage and the first worker is furious I've worked all day and this is all you're giving me but that's the way she agreed to so it wasn't that his wage was inadequate it's only that he resented the fact that someone else was doing best a wonderful point because can ask you another question you know much more about the baby this is what I really admire in Gospels at the level of the texture of the text style my general experience is that you know there is a difficult point theological and then Christ says okay I will tell you a parable a story but that's not instead of clarifying things just messes things up even more if Christ is playing there a wonderful provocative game you know that you don't miss parables precisely are not simple explanations that's all and this I cannot but fully admire you know they are so problematic like the one parable that some people read it as simply some Baptist in the American South I think lovak as some kind of a promoting capitalist spirit isn't it that like a king goes somewhere and gives to his servants amount of money then the two who invested and multiplied it gets yes well our praise and the one who just buries it for safekeeping yeah and brings it back out when he comes home is is blamed yeah I prefer personally the reading provided by some minority which claims that we shouldn't accept that the master who does this is a good guy they point out that the master goes away to grab some power so that the idea is that although it appears to celebrate the two the two guys who did invest and so on that you should read this story in a much more refined way that the truly modest guy is the good wonder you know I think in many many of the parables the mechanism is that rather than disagree with the Challenger Jesus hyper agrees which is which is just what you often do you know yeah I'm not comparing them we see I you mentioned battle yeah I see it but you you will it will reply to a challenger by saying you're right and you have no idea how very right you are and then you then you go on to deliver in a version let me say you know countries which may surprise the paradigm I deeply agree with it I even developed it with the category of over-identification my idea every ideology to be operative shouldn't go to the end it has to live it's through implications a little bit in shadow so often a much more effective way to undermine an ideology is to over agree with it and I can give you here the series of wonderful historical examples for example this is why I admire Pascal Jansenist and so on they were too much geologically this is at least the reading of that classical Marxist who is deeply sympathetic to Pascal lucien goldman lady akash a hidden god how they simply opened up showed that the implicit cards of the weak energy too much then i think the same goes for one of my big writers heinrich von Kleist for German militarism even up to a point Brecht for communism and especially now this will shot you ain't rent he show come on he's so crazy in her pro capitalism the Chiefs already for the majority and embarrassed so how are you going to to hyper agree with iron Rand sorry how are you going to agree that over reason she says things which are so crazy that that at a certain level in a twisted way she retreats herself sorry she refutes herself not so much refused a she has an an authentic point for example you know recently no I cannot read with all my admiration for her Atlas Shrugged is too much you know like because you know the last hundred page is that speech of drum to the people my god listen I know this from communism it's even worse than it's basically a party apparatchik big speech but there is one moment there which is deeply true when John Galt criticizes the girl whom he seduces at the end uh gimme some dough and he says you are the enemy not the no do worse because you worry too much you try to save the system by think okay railways don't work I will do it I will try to make it function and so on and so on don't do this step back allow don't worry other people's words and I think this is a pretty deep lesson even political lesson then another point where I agree with her it's even a strictly Marxist point this is a serious problem you know when you have at the end of Atlas Shrugged this celebration of money yet in a way she is right this was the problem of the 20th century namely it was clear to Marx even if it's only a formal freedom and you have to sell yourself blah blah nonetheless money economy at least give this formal freedom I said sell you something we both have to be in some sense formally free to agree and her point is if you want to step in economy out of money the big problem is how not to fall back into direct relations of domination and servitude isn't one big lesson of communism it wanted 20th century Stalinist communism it wanted to overcome the money market economy the price was direct brutal relations of domination and so on and so on now there are authentic moments of in her I don't get any problem admitting you know you're talking about that scene and and about saving an ideology by this by departing from the ideology or deserting or mitigating its effects or or something of that sort prompts me to turn to a paragraph in your book I'm going to read it I hope it's me not the other guys too little bit it is my part this because it is over oh it is your part no no I was just looking for the way out if you there is a Jewish story about a Talmud Specialist opposed to the death penalty who embarrassed by the fact that the penalty is ordained by God himself proposed a wonderfully practical solution one should not directly overturn the divine injunction which would be blasphemous but one should treat it as God's slip of tongue his moment of madness and invent a complex network of some regulations and conditions which while leaving the possibility of the death penalty intact would ensure that this possibility would never be realized is that my Hegelian ism in practice yes not don't say no death penalty because then you get caught into universality an exception you know no death penalty but when we have a really mean guy let's shoot him I prefer much more the apart yes of course and for that penalty just my god here it doesn't work there it doesn't work and you should use all your work to prove that in general I'm for it but in reality we never arrived at that at that moment and I think that even I think maybe in this book or in my other the big fat one less than nothing which is my life worked if I can use this bombastic term I mentioned another story which is my absolutely favorite one and I learned from my Jewish friends that there are even two versions of it this is for me Judaism at its best it's such a crazy story that first I thought it's a practical joke you know that people invented this to seduce me because they knew I would like it you know there are two versions in Talmud of this anecdote of two rabbis debating and the one who is losing said referring to any Hall you know the beginning where Marshall McLuhan comes notes right let's call God himself and and and and boil the soup and the God comes no but before he can start arguing I know rephrasing it in a little bit problematic way but I think if you cut the this is what happens the other priest who was winning the argument shouts at God listen old guy you did your job creation you didn't do it well your job is done off and leave a serious people here to debate the consequences now and the beauty is that God then says oh my God my pupils have beaten me true and turns away my children have defeated me yeah yeah yeah it's a wonderful story I think and this is something absolutely unique for me from here then in Christianity you go even a step further and so on and so on you know what's the problem here please allow me just to tell this to avoid a misunderstanding I'm sorry if I give you the impression that I'm now just competing with telling jokes or whatever this story has a tremendous existential impact you know it's easy to treat it as a funny story but it's very hard to really take it as an existential truth well it's like you know you I began by asking that question about God wanting to see himself because as used as you then proceed to speak up the Christian of the crucifixion you say that it is at that moment when Jesus Christ my God my God why have you forsaken me that God has the experience of being someone who struggles to believe in God and at that point he sees himself and from that point on he can no longer be God in the way he used to be so a change has taken place in him a transforming change this Jewish story has a comparable function in in that up until that point God was he who whose word would finally settle any dispute between two Jews and past that point God is no longer such a God they are going to have to settle it among themselves so the same the same passages negotiated in each of these religions in the different but functionally a parallel way I think we've we were at the point where we can start taking some questions and comments for them now we have from Germany for democracy we pretend they'll be out of here I've saved actually a little more anyway I can oh my god don't give the people to March 20 we need some democracy they will take it please I'm sorry please here stole the bloodshed oh we've got the microphone of their own table follow the microphone oh you see you man I told you in advance I want to live in the Truman world where all the questions are organized in advance you know yes and now you made the short mistake didn't follow the scenario you should have began there lesley lu even well said thank God I'm an atheist and he probably asks this question Marshall McLuhan are you an optimist or a pessimist Marshall said I'm an apocalypse sort of like what you're saying were so McLuhan converted to cop the Catholicism as a performance art piece and broke the Finnegan's Wake code how and why did McLuhan merge technological determinism with manipular to come up with the same attitude you have were that's it is it me or Hugh oh yeah this is not real a very you were brutal Eggert ish now this is not laughing even now seriously first I don't want to Bluff too much I must admit it that I never okay when I was young he I was reading McLuhan but I don't relate too deeply to him I even have unfortunately some problems with when you mentioned Finnegan's Wake Joyce I think he was I think in United States here conservatives like to say this about radical intellectuals that Joyce often wants to be too bright for his own good here okay my hero is Beckett Beckett who you know about this mega you know like he wants to match Finnegan's Wake all languages everything and it I suspect this disgusting narcissism you know like you know what he said I wrote this to give little literary scientists 400 years of work and so on I love back at this radical move into minimalist as catism and so on so but on the other hand yes for me my answer to this is that I am optimist for the very same reason that I am a pessimist let's not forget you must know this much better than me that apocalypse originally doesn't mean the end of the world it's just confronting the truth when things appear what is an unveiling as a link so I I so what I'm saying to give you a very brief formula is that today not just in the standard very restrained show the Marxist way of economic crisis limits of capitalism we are approaching such a point the old world in which we lived not only at a con in economy but even at ethical topic it's nice that you mentioned this technologic macro and determinism because for me I'm fascinated by are we aware what is happening today for example I'm fascinated by this ideas which are already becoming more and more reality of the possibility of directly linking our brain to a computer which then can perform movement so that we acquire an almost divine ability of directly moving objects with our thought you know at an elementary level this is already done like I read it was reported it's ridiculous this was done in your American Way a totally crippled guy he was training his brain and then his girlfriend came and he was able to touch her with his metallic and moving teacher but what I'm saying is that are we aware of the consequences of this it's really as virginia woolf set at some point human nature changed no like are we aware that the very basis of our sense of personality and freedom is this minimal distinction I am here realities out there and okay it may sound great oh my god with my mind I can move objects we don't even need the proverbial Stephen Hawking's finger noise direct but you know what goes out goes in that is to say it's not only out they can come and what will this do to to human freedom and so on and I claim old answers no longer function here like for me I wonder if you would share this with me this was the great disappointment in practically European official state philosopher Jurgen Habermas of Frankfurt School no wonder that a couple of years ago he co published a book with Ratzinger with the present Pope because he have a mass who likes to present himself as the great figure of enlightenment bringing modernity project of nano to the end his reaction to all these prospects of bio-genetically manipulating own brain blah blah is basically the conservative Catholic one is it's dangerous to do it if you follow if we follow that path we may lose our dignity freedom so let's not do it this is the old conservative Catholic wisdom you know something's are better be left unknown even I think this doesn't work I think that it's crucial to confront all this my god what is happening here what will happen with our being human is effectively what we experience as our spontaneous psychic properties will become manipulable for example at NYU they did something I checked it up there because first I read the tv-rip assaultive report which I found it pretty terrifying they succeeded in somehow wiring connecting to a computer a simple rat in such a way that they decode that the most elementary neuronal orders for movement like straight so on and they were able to connect again her neurons to the computer so that literally if you connect the red to it really became like this remote-controlled toy you were able to it's pretty horrifying to direct how the mouse becomes real knows yeah yeah yeah yeah so then I made the guys and asked them a simple question and discovered from the very beginning this for this problem and their answer terrified me of course ensued them screw the mouse the problem is can you do it with us right and especially something they were not idiots these guys this what bothered them namely how will you as a human being experience this let's say you did do this to me I walk here around without me knowing when you connect me and and you can control how I move and their answer was a pretty pessimist one their hypothesis they didn't want to tell me how much is it confirmed is that I will not experience this as oh my god some foreign power took over me is controlling me which would have been good at least I would be aware their hypothesis is that I would still think that I'm just freely roaming around you know without even knowing so again I'm not a megatess amidst here I I want to discard both extremes I'm not like Ray Kurzweil or who the guy who thinks will all be happy virtual entities and so on but I'm not also some kind of technological conservative who thinks the end of humanity we are becoming robots we just have to confront problems something tremendous is happening and and states around the world are already doing it like crazy like sorry I repeat often the screen when I delete the China I met by chance a top guy immediately we finish sorry from from from their Chinese from their Academy of Sciences biogenetics and she showed me the program of trainees virginity genetics very explicitly says the goal of our research is to regulate the physical and psychic well-being of the Chinese people I gotta hide here yet say no next question please I'm sorry I'm sorry you know you're not enough you should dress in black leather and be a domina to meet it the only thing that works sorry um so I'm gonna preface my question by saying that I'm actually Catholic and I'm actually a judge volunteer right now and been pumped Jesuit volunteer Jesuit volunteer yes uh um and so uh and I studied theology in my undergrad and so with a specialization in global ecclesiology and you had mentioned that bishops in particular were kind of your best debating partners and but your example was a European bishop and I was wondering if you had debated any bishops from developing countries like the African bishops or Latin American bishops and if so let American yes African unfortunately no sorry one if so like how how is that different or how would you expect it to be different in because it they're a lot less doctrinal focused I guess I could say I don't think that you know unfortunately from my maybe you can correct me here but from my limited knowledge I I still when you said doctrinal and so on and so on I don't think this is something bad like I don't like to play some naive but authentic belief against doctrinal approach and so on and so on I distrust this kind of I distrust this kind as a chapter in the book around the romance of Orthodoxy yeah yeah so what I would say is that I sorry what what is really emerging as I know that Catholic Church is getting strong now in some African countries I also know that if Catholic Church were to be minimally democratic reflecting it composure of people then the Pope should have been a black or Latino American guy long time ago but maybe this will amuse you but it's a serious point it's incredible this predominance of European Verma Italian mafia you know whom I'm now trying to rehabilitate I'm not kidding Borges I thought they were simply bad guys ah generate a good history and discovered okay they were not angels but ever by far not as bad as their reputation the problem is the devil Spanish they were intruders you know they were not experienced a spell part of the Italian inner circle so it's totally forgotten that Borges the same horrible Borges did many tremendous seek like précisément Alexander was the Pope Jews were also thrown out of Spain you know let Alexander opened up the gates of Rome to all of them especially to produce not just the reduce bring big money do you know that they were the first to expand public education and so on and so on so so like the true I in Latin America it's a different story like one of my favorite documents now that they're slowly opening the archives you know that already in the early sixties I read somewhere printed and CIA archive which said concerning Latin America forget Marxist left-wing the Liberation Theology Church saw real enemies in Latin America and so on no in Africa frankly I'm not so sure that this new growing Catholic Church there has this potential maybe I don't know enough about it you know these are very complex matters what happens in with religion where it is moved planted in put another culture I'm not here a cheap historic looks like a let's take another question and back I'm sorry I'm sorry you didn't get the answer but that's life here I answer to the way God answers job which is basically God's answer to job is basically yes I agree with you this is a big problem why all this mesh that's Chesterton's reading sorry I got the latter half but not the African health that's how you're trying you're a social democratic opportunist I noticed you are trying to balance left and try this is the question job this is a question for both of you throughout the conversation you've been sort of approaching the liberation or core of Christianity I recently read Freddy Perlman's against history against Leviathan he talks about the actual religions and their and their deep opposition to the hierarchical societies which they appeared I was wondering if you could discuss why is it that you're willing to why you feel some it seems like you feel some comfort with the theology and you feel like it's okay to continue to to expand this theology instead of stripping it all away and going back to the liberation of possibility that's that's sort of the sense that I'm getting and if you guys could discuss your thoughts on on the liberation and returning to the early church sorry what the leftward liberation in liberation it with regards to the early church Manicheans Gnostics dad which is similar today I'm absolutely this may disappoint you but I am absolutely against ostracism I think Gnosticism was for from the very beginning an elitist view I never believed in emancipatory potentials of not dismiss page 178 you write Gnostics are Christians who miss the joke of Christianity but they're I try to be too wise for my own good idea but not seriously what I will tell you is that what I and I wonder to what extent you are ready to follow me here what I you answered if you ask the fundamental question first just a minor point what I reject is this idea of playing the good pre institutional very early Christianity like resources good the origin of evil is st. Paul notes and Paul is definitely a good guy for me st. Paul is the lemon east in the sense of organizing the movement and I even attempted to say without handball Jesus Christ would have been rather not too interesting local preacher and so on and so on the true problem for me begins later for example for me a truly great guy much more radical then as far as I know I don't know a lot but something I do know about early Christian theology then st. Augustine is organized the one who he said something much more intelligent you know he's usually known as the crazy fanatic credo quia absurdum associate the straight Olien sorry sorry sorry I made a mistake Tertullian yes he was a much more interesting guy much more radical now the big question is this one and I appreciate your question like if I will say I am an atheist why even bother to use the language of the other Reapers why not do it directly in a TAS terms I claim as I already said I cannot decide him in another Fidel Castro explosion of two hours why but you remember I said this I claimed that to really think the death of God is not a matter of simple atheism a tourism the way we know it Stalinism and so on still has a theological dimension some transcendent structure guaranteed blah blah blah and for me again this subversive core of Christianity is much more radical in an atheist sense why because let me give you a very brief formula the here I refer to Jack Lacan who said the true formal of atheism is not God is dead but God is unconscious that is to say it's easy for us not to believe it's much more difficult as I mentioned about a propaganda laughter to get rid of the let's call it naively unconscious structure of beliefs which function quite well Nitra so this very clearly even after we officially become a taste and so on and so on this is for me the problem how to go to the end atheism and I claimed no way outside no way to do it outside Christianity you know what I mean by this like the example I gave you from la vita bella' and so on usually as a rule when we are a taste it's always that we still either need another naive agency or count of it if you will pardon me I will repeat a joke with I repeat that at least 100 times I'll do it again that's my faith to tell all jokes you know don't please be mad at me you know that anecdote that I use again and again about Niels Bohr Copenhagen guy who you know had the horseshoe above the entrance to his house and not just by friends you know horseshoe above the house in Europe superstitious item allegedly preventing evil spirits to enter droughts so he was asked by new habit by a friend if you are a scientist he said of course I don't believe in this but I have it because I was told that horseshoe above the entrance to the house it works even if you don't believe in it no this is kind of that belief work in there you know a billionaire worked out and it's difficult to go here to the end the keel Mini key element in that is I was told so so it is there is a mutuality there is the creation of a sustaining group yeah and the ending that group brings a new reality into existence yet we have time for one more question one more question over here hi I just had a question so um so essentially what are you suggesting that that we we're God is concerned that perhaps we live our life depended upon a fate knowing that the fate going back to the Greeks which is simply the end that's it so it couldn't be more precise because you came to me comes regret we are we are the examples that you gave I just is it that we never actually really arrived at a belief is it that we are always in the process of naming what we believe but yet that is inauthentic that we are always yes and again I think that the most radical theological tradition NUI to go to your Kierkegaard you know he said we never believe we just believe believe but for an authentic even Christian I claim this is not a problem for me the guy who believes and really thinks he believes it's one step from fundamentalism this is not authentic Christianity that's the message of that le le lama sabachthani even God went through that face even Christ wasn't sure you know so again but again the problem here is you know we don't enter into it what does it mean to believe like isn't it there are good reasons to think that what we usually today consider belief this full first-person literal I really believe this is a relatively modern phenomenon even some form of knowledge not really yeah for example I can maybe you know it you know a wonderful book by Paul vane the French historian wonderful title did the ancient Greeks believed in their gods his answer is of course in some sense no they were not stupid they didn't think if you climb the Mount of Olympus you will see their I don't know she was growing Aphrodite or whatever they knew it's just a mountain but nonetheless we shouldn't use modern terms they claim for them Jewish was just a metaphor for cosmic powers and Socrates Socrates who was the man who most undermined the traditional beliefs on his deathbed offered instructions to sacrifice a car to a school atheist so yeah the practice remained Christianity is it is a pretty oriented future-oriented finish I promise to be brief Lydia took by giving you a very paradoxical example when I was in Israel I went to Ramallah and I spoke with some people close to the actual so called terrorists from Israeli side some psychologists in IDF delink with them and Palestinians and they all told me the same story which is very interesting that they try to understand the mind of a so called terror is just before blowing up then told me no it's not that he sure oh the 70 virgins are up there let me just do it that it's more kind of a massage elect to allow them to crash their doubt it is they are not sure and it's a desperate act of if I blow myself up I will maybe prove with my act what I'm not ready to believe it's a much more complex phenomenon believe is a very difficult thing and both fundamentalist and Christopher Hitchens type of critics of religion I think operate with a ridiculously inadequate notion of belief well we've we've we've certainly begun this evening complicating the notion for our own benefit I want to thank you all for your attention I also want to urge those of you and I know many of you are already members of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles to consider joining and to be considered making your contributions to the foundation as generous as you can these conversations are by so many interesting visitors have have become an ornament and and an ongoing classroom for all of us can I just add something important Q first let me tell you that I'm grateful for you to be here and this is the most you will get from me you are not a complete idiot no no we are all idiots there are only two types of people complicity or the nurse'll is yes and besides me such people like the two of us not complete idiots no something today there is this general tendency to turn higher education into factories producing experts which is why it's absolutely crucial to fight and don't be here false Marxist you are not supporting bourgeois access when you fight for free places like conversations here where you open up to collateral damage freely thinking it's not expert thinking you know this is so precious to keep places like this functioning when our universities again are turning into machines like I was in France I was shocked in the debate where some high political person told referring to that suburb Paris suburbs burning cars incidents look he said this is what we from universities cars are burning in Paris suburbs we need technologies to tell us how control the crowd we need urban is to allow us to plan the suburbs better no sorry this is not intellectual stuff this is experts we need different questions many questions especially to question the questions themselves you know the problem is that today we are facing problems but more often they're not than not the way we formulate a problem is mystifies if the problem mystifies the problem and you will not learn this reflexive ability at and unfortunately at at least what universities are becoming every free space of thinking is precious so I seriously support your proposal thank you all for coming Thank You Slava congratulations on the site final thanks very much I hope I was not too courageous never say no I really agree you

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