Bricolage and Paths to Meaning
If the fragmentation of modern societies can be explained as a social process, the building of new cultural consistencies is dependent upon decisions taken by social actors from their subjective reality. According with this acknowledgement, the author manages to revisite his former researches about beliefs of Quebecers. He brings to light the social dynamics of an itinerancy in which the paths of meaning are explore by individuals, taking new decisions from the rereading of their personal history as believers and according to the possibilities of the cultural market. The purpose of the paper is to precise this dynamics of meaning in the contemporary word.
The entire story of Sylvie Germain’s L’Encre du poulpe is built up around a Gospel passage : Peter’s denial of Christ during the passion. Our analysis will attempt to clarify the way in which the author “ reads ” the text as he reworks it with an adolescent audience in mind. The question being dealt with here is whether or not the rewriting of a Gospel passage has more or less chance of producing a new and original meaning than another kind of matrix. Maurice Blanchot speaks about this process in L’Entretien infini : “ What is important is not the telling, but the retelling, and in this repetition, making each time feel as though it were the first. ”
Purgatory and Anagnôrisis in the film The Sixth Sense
The author examines M.N. Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense as an illustration of the way in which the Christian tradition reasserts itself in unexpected ways in the cultural productions of a secularised society. While from a theological point of view, purgatory might well indeed head the list of outmoded concepts, this two-part analysis begins by showing how the screenwriter has used the images and symbols of purgatory as a way of addressing some of those questions around death that his viewing public may be wrestling with. Anagnôrisis or recognition is used as a second interpretative key used to explain the film’s most powerful dramatic moment. Shared by the protagonist and the spectator alike, the author sees in this moment of recognition a technique reminiscent of the one experienced by the reader of the Gospel of Mark.
The Sacred in Pieces : From Nirvana to Sylvie Germain
According to Lucien Dällenbach (Mosaïques, Seuil, 2001), the figure of the mosaic has dominated artistic and cultural productions for the past few years. This paper proposes a reflection on this statement from a specialist of the fragmented and the return of the sacred as it manifests itself in contemporary culture. The reflection will focus on three exemplary figures : the protest, the game and the quest. The music video by Nirvana, created for their song Heart-Shaped Box, is used as a figure of protest. The novel, L’Apparition by Didier van Cauwelaert, is used to illustrate the second figure. Both instances demonstrate false returns of the sacred as their manifestations of the sacred, at least from a postmodern perspective — fall short. With the third figure, the sacred appears to have found a new home ; exemplified through the works of Sylvie Germain, the multiple biblical references pair with the cosmic to create a mythic-fantastic universe. However the question remains whether or not the sacred has indeed found a new home. Are we actually speaking of a new sacred, a synthesis, or is this merely a new piecing together, that is, yet another mosaic ?
Aesthetics and Theology : A Critique of the Constructivist Paradigm
Reference to my musical experience brings me to question the esthetical analysis through the concepts of reconstruction and “bricolage”, religious market, which became very popular in social sciences, in theology and current language. On the horizon of the end of cohesive world visions, are we condemned to itemize traces, signs, disparate objects, among the Ancients and the Moderns ? The present reflection on the esthetical experience provokes me to explore other paths, which comprehend it rather as hermeneutical unity or movement toward a meaning horizon.
Fragmentation and Reconstruction of the Biblical Text in Rock Music
When speaking about the public significance of rock music and heavy metal, George Steiner has remarked that they are the equivalent of an international esperanto for today’s youth (Entretiens, 1992, p. 91). This esperanto has a strong religious dimension observable, among other ways, in the frequent use of biblical images and texts — even if these texts are most often pulverized by screaming guitars and voices. Looking to the violence that rock and particularly metal inflicts on the biblical text, many feel that these forms of expression stand over and against the Bible and even against God. But what if rock and metal also happened to be deeply respectful of the Bible’s prophetic dynamics and of a legitimate discourse on God ? This paper thus intends to map the critical use and function of the Bible in rock music.
Theological Reconstructions : From a Story by Georges Perec
This article proposes a theological reading Georges Perec’s narrative, “ Les lieux d’une ruse ”, where the author describes the psychoanalysis he underwent between 1971 and 1975. This highly ambiguous narrative (which lies somewhere between literature and autobiography, between fiction and reality) is compared here to a classical text of contemporary ethnology, namely to the introductory chapter of Claude Lévi-Strauss’s La pensée sauvage. The working hypothesis of this paper is that the pschoanalysis described by Perec and the workings of mythical thought as described by Lévi-Strauss bears a striking resemblance to the work of the Christian theologian.
On Hell : In Praise of the Commonplace
One work in particular, the Journal of Satan by Leonid Andreïev, initiates reflection on both the demoniacal and hell within modern literature. The persistence of these mythic themes is surprising if we imagine that the devil has become a kind of theological fossil. He has become a literary theme. Furthers, the accompanying myths have been recovered in fragmentary form. The persistence in new works of ancient fragments extracted from the Christian tradition is, paradoxically, a desire to reflect the real, which permits an updating of these mythic images.
There are several illustrations of how Judeo-Christian fragments form part of the mosaic of present-day art and culture. Less attention has been paid, however, to the fragments found in contemporary scientific culture. The discourse of language theory uses theological figures, which although perhaps incongruous when considered in today’s larger culture, take on fresh significance in their new setting. This resurgence is important both for theology and contemporary epistemology since the appropriation of such figures, beyond ordinary metaphoric use, indicates a certain congruence between the two fields. And this congruence has reached its summit, even if unconsciously, in the theory of language which has secularised theological figures and concepts without loss of meaning.
Art and Transcendence : Masks of Impossible Desire
The sole essential do-it-yourselfery is impossible. It shows up in Maurice Blanchot’s literary concept. But this supposes first an examination of the relationships between art and a transcendance which is not an extension of immanence. From this point on, the author shows how man emerges as a subject by establishing the Other as irreducible to his own representations, and thus goes from a logic based on death-causing satisfaction to a paradoxal logic based on desire. The necessity of inventing the Other, in the light of Octave Mannoni and Georges Didi-Huberman’s reflexions, already seems implied by the subject’s language and outlook.
« …like in a million splinters of mirror » : The Bricolage of Etty Hillesum.
Van den Brandt suggests that the diary and letters of the Dutch Jew, Etty Hillesum, written between 1941 and 1943 are a very accomplished literary bricolage for the 40’s in Holland. The paper highlights the ‘bricolage mentality’ of the author through her cultural literary context. The “ thousand slivers ” in the work of Etty Hillesum reflect a history of a lived humanity, told and re-told to confront civilization with its own resources, inspirations and vital understanding…
The Evoluation of Christian Discourse in World-Class Fairs at the Turn of the Millenium (1998-2002)
On a very short span (five years), three major world class fairs drew millions in Europe. In each one, at least one christian pavilion featured some message coined by an authority. The paper describes the setting of each fair and discusses the content and the focus of those official christian pavilions. Links and ruptures between discourses are qualified according to some categories drawn from American sociocritical exegesis. Looking backward, the paper checks in World Fairs’ history for a possible previous pattern. Turning towards near future, it underlines hypothesis about the eventual fate of the two types of discourses used by Churches at the millenium turning point.
The Transformation of the Religious in Architecture :
Fragmentation or Reconstruction ?
The fact that the believers leave increasingly their place of worship is a widespread phenomenon in Western countries. Why are they doing so ? The first answer will be to point out the secularisation and dechristianization of our societies. However, it seems necessary to search for a deeper explanation. Maybe this phenomenon is also partially related to the places of worship themselves, which cannot be significant anymore for the believers of today. This is the topic of the present article. More precisely, I try to show how the modern religious architecture introduced many ruptures between communities and churches ; ruptures that are partly responsible for the actual situation. Then I analyse briefly some solutions proposed by the post-modern architecture.
Towards a “ Coming Out ” of Bricolage — a Christian Bricolage
The term itself, ‘bricolage’, used in the title of this collective work, betrays the profound difficulty for a Catholic, under an overarching and normative scrutiny of a master, to state the concrete modalities of a personal faith. To openly reclaim the process of belief, which to remain vibrant, a believer must take up, reorganize and play with the significance of a tradition, and in so doing, escapes the control of censorship. From this perspective, the cinema, which from the outset was perceived by spectators as a realm of pure fiction, was sensed, by the ecclesiastical authorities as a menacing alternative for their monopoly on meaning. It therefore constitutes a prime example to illustrate the tension between the appropriation of meaning by the believer and its management by regulatory sites, with their holders of truth, within the Church.
Civil War’s Liberia : Magic, Religion and Power
in Ahmadou Kourouma’s Allah n’est pas obligé
In this article, I analyze the way in which magic, more specifically sacrifices, rites of initiation, gris-gris and incantatory words are used by Ahmadou Kourouma’s characters, to sublimate and justify war and quest of power, whether this quest is political or monetary. In Allah n’est pas obligé, Kourouma tries to describe the state of mind of the children of war that we see in different ethnical conflicts, in Liberia and Sierra Leone. The life of the young Birahima appears to be a quest where the discovery of the powers of the gris-gris is inextricable from the one of the kalachnikov. The children of war take over temporal power at the same pace they deepen their knowledge of rituals and magic. In the way that Kourouma represents war, magic occupies a paradoxical place, for it is, all at once, a lye and something essential, illusory but indispensable for all the ones who embrace the profession of braving death.
South Africa : The Pentecostals in the Political Recording by the Religious
A rapid and unexpected solution transpired in South Africa, the theatre of a conflict that seemed without resolution. Despite continued and persistent racial economic inequalities, a political mutation has occurred : a change in the language of politics. This change was made possible, in part, by the re-coding of politics by the religious, and in part, brought about by the symbolic work accomplished by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The thesis of this text is that the ‘progressive’ Churches allowed this re-coding but it was the Pentecostal churches, despite their initial favorable stance for a status quo during the Apartheid period, that made this re-coding performative.
The Metaphysics of a “ Infidel ” :
Father and Son in the work of Jacques Ferron
Jacques Ferron comes across as an ‘infidel’ or an ‘atheist’ in his polemical and fictional writings. And yet he recurrently evokes God and religious questions either through the use of religious personages in his polemical and fictional writings or through a more direct expression of his thinking, directly concerned with spirituality and metaphysics. This article deals with the latter dimension. First, we will look at what type of relationship he constructs between the Father and the Son within the Trinity ; this reflection, unquestionably metaphysical, brings the author to question the nature of the identity of this rapport between the subject with himself and with others. It is in the framework of this difficult double-sided problem, and with an original touch by the author, that the idea of God finally finds its rightful place in the Ferronian universe, on earth and in the heart of humanity.