The Incarnation of Language: Joyce, Proust and a Philosophy of the Flesh (Continuum Literary Studies)

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On the false imagination dimyon ha-shiqri or dimyon shiqri , see Abulafia, Hayyei ha-Nefesh, p. The presump- tion that there were actual Christians who proclaimed Abulafia to be the an ti- Christ insofar as he exposed the spuriousness of Jesus is preposterous. The bread is identified as the corpus daemones, which is glossed as the "bodies of demons [gufei shedim], the opposite of dominus, whose matter is spiritual and divine. Christians are denigrated as "fools" for thinking that the powers they venerate are divine; the bread, which is a example of Abulafia fabricating reality in order to make a didactic point.

It is striking how little self-reflection there has been on the part of scholars assessing the claims to factuality made by a man of such considerable imaginative skills as Abulafia. Amnon Gross Jeru- salem, , p. On the astrological symbol of the Teli in Abulafia, see Idel, Studies, pp.

This image, and especially its connection to Jesus, has been explored most extensively by Sagerman, The Serpent Kills, pp. I mention this text briefly in Venturing Beyond, p. By deifying Jesus, there- fore, Christians are guilty of bearing false witness, as their sacramen- tum is veritably sheqer mendo, an "erroneous lie. With respect to every perfect sage, and all the more so the true prophets, that God will be materialized [she-yitgashem ha-shem] 86 That is, the numerical value of both expressions is The numerology appears as well in Abraham Abulafia, Sefer ha-Hesheq, ed.

The passage is partially translated and discussed in Hames, Like Angels, p. In We-Zo't li-Yehudah, Abulafia's com- pares the delineation of the ten emanations by the "masters of the sefirotic kabbalah" ba'alei ha-qabbalah ha-sefirot to the trinitarian belief of the Christians Jellinek, Aus- wahl kabbalistischer Mystik, p. No wondrous deed is sufficient to refute the knowledge of this faith, and there is no rational proof at all in the hand of those who believe in the incarnation [ma'aminei ha-higashmut].

Addressing directly the death of Jesus and the accusation by Christians that the Jews are guilty of deicide, Abulafia contrasts the death of Moses by a kiss 91 with the punishment of crucifixion handed to Jesus because he was a false prophet, a sentence justified scripturally by the words ki qillat elohim taluy Deuteronomy , which Abulafia reads as "the accursed of God will hang.


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But if the mystery of the name dictates, as Abulafia insists, a coincidence of opposites, can the extreme dichotomization of truth and deceit be upheld? The paradoxical conception is expressed ontically by the androgynous image of Metatron as angelic and satanic, and psychologically as the good and evil inclinations in each person. The soul transformed into this angel — the figurative way that Abulafia labels conjunction with the Active Intellect 93 — imitates the divine by integrating opposites in its own being, 94 a process referred 90 Abulafia, Mafteah ha-Tokhahot, p.

See Abulafia, Hayyei ha-Olam ha-Ba, p.

For example, in Sitrei Torah, pp. That the serpent in this context alludes to Jesus, and the rod, by implication, to the power of the Jewish redeemer — the status of Aaron as the high priest is not insignificant, since for Abulafia the scripturally mandated rite of anointment juxtaposes the messianic and the priestly 96 — may be teased out from the web of verses spun by Abu- lafia's exegetical dexterity: When you discern the serpent, who is called the "fleeing serpent" [nahash bariah] and the "crooked serpent" [nahash aqallaton], you will discern the secret of what is said: "The prominent 97 elder is the head; the prophet who teaches lies is the tail" Isaiah , "The Lord will make you the head, not the tail" Deuteronomy , "Take in your hand the rod that turned into a serpent" Exodus , and it says "[he cast it on the ground] and it became a serpent, and Moses recoiled from it" ibid.

The serpent is identified further as the tail that is set in contrast to the head, the former designated as the prophet who gives false instruction and the latter as the elder of the prominent countenance. To decipher this we must bear in mind that the images of the elder zaqen and the youth na'ar denote the Janus quality these words were written by Abulafia, we can still make the following distinction: in the initial stage of entering the path, the language of polarity is appropriate, but at a more advanced stage, there is a collapse of that very polarity in the discernment that the opposites are identical.

Indeed, I would go so far as to say that only by separating truth and deception can one come to apprehend that there is no truth without decep- tion and no deception without truth. The literal sense relays the more negative connotation of practicing partiality. I mentioned this text briefly in Abraham Abu- lafia, p. This con- jecture is strengthened by the images of the rod and the serpent: the latter symbolizes the demonic potency of the feigned messiah, and the former the divine potency of the genuine messiah.

Through the power of the name, entrusted to the hand of Moses, the "first redeemer" go'el ha- ri'shon , the serpent becomes the rod.

Joyce, Proust and a Philosophy of the Flesh

Inasmuch as Abulafia under- stood his mission messianically as disseminating the mystical regimen 99 The image is derived from Abulafia's description of the source of the letters in the poem emet sullam ber'o sur lehorot, which begins the second part of Sheva Netivot ha-Torah, p. I hope to translate and comment on this poem in a separate study. In the first passage, the good and evil aspects of Metatron, the light and dark side of the moon, are connected to the attributes of mercy and judgment, and in the second passage, to Mordecai and Haman.

See Wolfson, "Kenotic Overflow," p. Commenting on God's instruction to Moses and Aaron to take the rod in hand and to speak to the rock in order to draw water therefrom Numbers , Abulafia sets the parallel between the rod and the tongue such that hitting the rock by means of the former is equivalent to speaking to it by means of the latter.

Abulafia's recasting of the biblical images is reminiscent of the two covenants specified in Sefer Yesirah see above, n.

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On the role of these covenants in Abulafia's mystical scheme, see Wolfson, Abraham Abulafia, pp. This is implied in the aforecited text from Sitrei Torah where one thing is described as turning into its opposite. In another passage from this treatise, the principle of the coincidentia opposi- torum is applied specifically to the relationship between Jews and non-Jews: The bodies of all the nations on the face of the earth are uncircum- cised [gufam arel], and they are nothing but amorphous mass and dust [golem we-afar].


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  5. Therefore, we inherited the splendor of the fes- tivity to distinguish us from every nation, which is profane in relation to him and we are holy unto him. They are the blood and we are the religion, for "From his right hand was a fiery law" Deuteronomy He revealed to us that the attribute of his right is the attribute of his left, and the attribute of his left is the attribute of his right, for there is no left above.

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    The discord between the two is underscored by allocating the term "religion" dat to the Jew and the term "blood" dam to the non- Jew. Abulafia closes the gap, however, by interpreting the description of Abulafia, Mafteah ha-Shemot, p. On the connection between Moses and the Messiah, see the recent survey, which includes ref- erences to previous scholars, by Semadar Cherlow, "How Moses Became the Messiah? In the introduction to the same treatise, p.

    It is for this reason that opposites are contained in the combination of letters.

    WOLFSON the Torah as a "fiery law" esh dai that comes from the right hand of God, that is, the quality of fire, which is usually associated with the left, is here apportioned to the right, whence we know that "the attribute of his right is the attribute of his left, and the attribute of his left is the attribute of his right. The adept who acquires mystical insight discerns that the two aspects, which appear antinomical from the more pedestrian point of view informed by the law of contradiction, are in reality identified.

    In Sefer ha-Melis, Abulafia transmitted the secret in the following way: "And this is the spirit of Samael, and know that its opposite is the angel, and from him you will know that the merciful one is the judge and also that the judge is the merciful one.

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    It is of interest to note that in the same text, Ahulafia uses the image of "circular ladder" sullam agol to portray visually the mys- tical comprehension of the Tree of Knowledge ibid. See Idel, The Mystical Experience, pp. Without entering into the details of this image, I merely note that it corresponds precisely to the idea of linear circularity that I have articulated in "Kenotic Overflow" in an effort to characterize the nature of temporality in Abulafia's kabbalah.

    This passage, as well as the one referenced below at n. The unity of the sefirot illustrates that in every falsehood there is truthfulness; by the logic of the paradox, we must suppose the inverse as well, and thus in every truthfulness there is falsehood.

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    Through the faculty of the intellect, the enlightened one maskil can make the deception true ye'ammet ha-sheqer and the truth deceptive yeshaqqer ha-emet. The deceptive truth — the true fiction, as it were, the truth that is true because of the untruth of its truth — is related to the imaginal form of the angel, the concretization of the divine efflux, which is envisioned by the individual who has been ecstatically transmogrified into an angelic body through knowledge of the name.

    This transmogrification is facilitated by the permutation of the letters, a process that is referred to by one of Abulafia's disciples as malbush, the taking on of the garment. For instance, compare Sefer ha-Peli'ah Przemysl, , pt. Truth consists of affirming the "existing reality," whereas falsity is the "privation of existence.

    Although my name is not mentioned, Idel, Ben, p. WOLFSON belief in the messianic savior, the hypostasis of the triune God, is the mechanism that brings about "eternal salvation" teshu'at olamim. For Abulafia, it signifies the messianic task of liberating matter or the imagination represented by the image of blood, which is usually paired with ink, the symbol of form or the intellect.

    It deals with the imaginary representation of the mystic's self as part of a revelation or an experience. Maurizio Mottolese Milan: Adelphi Edizioni, , pp. It behooves me to respond that a careful reading of my analysis shows that I state unambiguously that, for Abulafia, the object of vision is not a physical body but an internal psychic image projected outward. I contend, however, that the heart of the prophet or mystic is a "translucent mirror" in which the internal is externalized at the same time that the external is internalized, a double mirroring in which the "difference of identity between seer and seen is overcome in the identity of their difference" Language, Eros, Being, p.

    To do justice to my point of view, one must take full measure of this paradox. Compare Abulafia, Mafteah ha-Shemot, p. The word hazkarah is linked through numerical equivalence to harkavah both have the value of to indicate that it is through letter-combination that the messiah mentions the name and brings about the light of remembrance zikkaron , which dispels the darkness of forgetfulness associated symbolically with Amaleq. On the messianic nature of the revelation of Abulafia's kab- balistic path, see also the self-justification in We-Zo't li-Yehudah, in Jellinek, Auswahl kabbalistischer Mystik, p.

    The following passage from Hayyei ha-Nefesh illumines Abulafia's intent. Commenting on the verse "And God said further to Moses, 'Thus shall you speak to the Israelites: The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you: This shall be my name forever, this my appellation for all eternity'" Exodus , Abulafia writes: It is known that this prophecy was for Moses our master, peace be upon him, the beginning of his prophecy, and it came to him to publicize the redemption of Israel, that is, the exodus from Egypt.

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    God instructed us that by means of the knowledge of his name the redemption comes. And thus the name when expressed in full numerically equals dam ha- ge'ullah, which is in truth the avenger of the blood [go'el ha-dam] of one who has murdered accidentally on account of which a man is exiled [goleh adam], and every imagined body [is the] body of the Lord from the blood through which he augments his existence. And the secret of the taw of ink is that she gives birth [she-yoledet].

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