A Collection of Spectacles


Society (and by society I mean American society, or maybe even Western society, as I can’t speak to the collectives of others) seems to need and thrive off of the juxtaposition of opposite, opposing values. Over the weekend, I had to read an excerpt from Giorgio Agamben’s book, and at one point, he examined this idea perfectly. “In the American Constitution one thus reads, without any distinction, ‘We the people of the United States.’ Yet when Lincoln invokes a ‘Government of the people, by the people, for the people’ in the Gettysburg Address, the repetition implicity opposes the first ‘people’ to another ‘people.'” In other words, the use of the word has come to mean both “people,” or the common person, the poor and disenfranchised, and “People,” the “whole political body” that is all-inclusive. The term then encompasses everyone, while also mentioning a very specific sect of people.  It successfully demonstrates the existence of both inclusion and exclusion, upon which laws are based.

Along the same vein, religion is a haven for such co-existing polar opposites. Abraham had to believe that killing his son was the right thing to do, for God told him to, but he simultaneously had to believe that God is love. To Kierkegaard, such a belief in two opposing views defined faith.

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