Posted by NT Wrong on November 4, 2008
In the end, Obama may just be a little less right-wing than McCain. When people say ‘He’s not the Messiah’ they are correct to this extent. But what is the Messianic but some small, apparently insignificant shift of perspective that, nonetheless, constitutes an event after which nothing is the same again? The problem with the protest ‘He’s not the Messiah’ is not that the protestor is not hopeful enough, but that his level of hope is measured against an unrealistic vision of what we are capable of attaining.
“There is a well-known parable about the kingdom of the Messiah that Walter Benjamin (who heard it from Gershom Scholem) recounted one evening to Ernst Bloch, who in turn transcribed it in Spuren: “A rabbi, a real cabalist, once said that in order to establish the kingdom of peace it is not necessary to destroy everything nor to begin a completely new world. It is sufficient to displace this cup or this bush or this stone just a little, and thus everything. But this displacement is so difficult to achieve and its measure is so difficult to find that, with regard to the world, humans are incapable of it and it is necessary that the messiah come.” Benjamin’s version of the story goes like this: “The Hassidim tell a story about the world to come that says everything there will be just as it is here. Just as our room is now, so it will be in the world to come; where our baby sleeps now, there too it will sleep in the other world. And the clothes we wear in this world, those too we will wear there. Everything will be as it is now, just a little different.””
– Giorgio Agamben, The Coming Community (1993): 53.
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