those heretics: searching for the kingdom of saints

Mysticism, whether heretical or not, is often the refuge of defeated radicalism.Messianist German Anabaptists would become pacifist, mystical Mennonites, and the messianic English “Fifth Monarchy Men” would become pacifist, mystical Quakers. The wild millenarians, The Seers; there is no shortage of messiahs in every great period of heresy including the present. Epidemics, like bad rashes that won’t go away; bursts of doctrines of apostolic poverty, anarchism, anything heretical to the canons of the shock corps of economic orthodoxy…

—Duchamp may be understood as one who pointedly purified art of the merely agreeable, by eschewing painterly technique and “appropriate” images. He avoided an engagement with the unduly true by his strict avoidance of the moral or immoral, and even the obviously beautiful or ugly, most strikingly in the readymades. He demonstrated that art remains wherever one composes the elements to produce a sense of purposiveness. This definition of art is wide enough to accommodate even random elements. It means that art is potentially everywhere, though his imitators have all too often taken this to mean that art is merely everywhere —a belief so vacuous as to empty the word “art” of meaning.
Looking at Duchamp from a Kantian point of view has one further insight to offer. Kant would define art as the arrangement of any suitable elements in a purposive way, to convey a mood of meaning. We needn’t have immediate recourse to Kant’s concept to appreciate Duchamp’s paintings, since the medium itself predisposes us to see the works aesthetically. However, we can now see that the scientific style served the same function, by its implications of structural or procedural explanation: a schematic automatically suggests a purpose, and this enhances the effect of what are really abstract designs….Read More:

Admittedly, its tough to extinguish heresy. The very remedies devised against it, by increasing the abuses of the Church, seems to intensify the protest against them. In 1260, the year in which, according to Abbot Joachim, the rule of the saints was to begin- troops of messianic puritans appeared in Italy and scourged themselves throughout the towns calling on all to repent. From Italy the movement spread to other countries. Unable to control it, the Church condemned it in 1349. Later, in the fourteenth-century Wycliffe led a Puritan “Lollard” revolt, and popular preachers in England and elsewhere advocated a return to primitive equality. Wycliffe’s revolt, in Milton’s words, was “but a short blaze, soon damped and stifled”; and the radical heresies soon ended in mystical resignation.

—ERUSALEM, July 3 (Xinhua) — The chief suspect of a vandalism attack against Israel’s Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem last month said he wanted to blow up the Knesset (parliament) building and other national landmarks, as well, the Ynet news site reported Tuesday.
“I wish I could blow up the Knesset, the Supreme Court and several IDF (Israel Defense Forces) bases,” Elhanan Esterovitch, 31, told police investigators, quoted by news site.
Police charged Esterovitch with trespassing, vandalism, damaging public property and offenses against the national flag, and asked the court to keep him locked up until the end of his case. …The suspects confessed to spraying slogans in an early-morning attack at Yad Vashem in early June, as well as a similar attack at the Ammunition Hill 1967 war memorial.
Some of the spray-painted slogans said, “If Hitler hadn’t existed, the Zionists would have invented him,” along with “Thanks Hitler for the wonderful Holocaust you organized for us!”
According to Rosenfeld, the suspects were members of Neturei Karta, a small, extreme anti-Zionist sector that believes the founding of the State of Israel, without divine intervention, is a sin….Read More:

In the toe of Italy, a studious abbot, Joachim of Floris, extracted from the Scriptures, “scientific” prophecies which proved that the last great age of the world was about to begin. Then all institutions, including the Church of Rome would wither away, and the kingdom of Saints, without clergy or sacraments, would be established on earth, to endure until the Last Judgement. As if to illustrate these theories, a crop of messiahs also appeared. Two were Tanchelm of Antwerp, who began by denouncing clerical vices and exactions and ended by claiming the properties of Christ and distributing his bath water as a sacramental beverage to his followers, and Eon de L’Estoile, who declared himself King of Kings and partner of God and swept through the woods of Brittany destroying churches and monasteries in order to maintain his “court” of rapacious peasants.

Brenda Zlamany. NYT.—writer Mark Danner. “The asymmetric weapons that the 19 terrorists used on 9/11,” offered Danner, “were not only the knives and box cutters they brandished or the fuel-laden airliners they managed to commandeer but, above all, that most American of technological creations: the television set.”
In an article filled with devastating insights, this one is not entirely new. In Don DeLillo’s 1991 novel Mao II, a reclusive author protagonist remarks on the way avant-garde art strategies of defamiliarising the ordinary – a urinal, an unmade bed – have been surpassed by those employed by fanatics. “What terrorists gain, novelists lose,” offers DeLillo’s character Bill Gray. “The degree to which they influence mass consciousness is the extent of our decline as shapers of sensibility and thought.”—Read More:

Alarmed, the papacy cultivated Joachim and tried to make use of his prophecies for their own ends. Though they hanged Arnold of Brescia and then burned his body, they sought to win over the Umiliati and the Waldenses. With the Umiliati they succeeded, but the Waldenses would not be controlled: they retired to the mountains of Bohemia, to merge with later heretics, and to the Alps, where they were periodically massacred by Orthodox peasants. The most famous massacre, in 1655, inspired Milton’s sonnet:

Avenge O Lord thy slaughter’d Saints, whose bones
Lie scatter’d on the Alpine mountains cold,
Ev’n them who kept thy truth so pure of old
When all our Fathers worship’t Stocks and Stones,

Forget not: in thy book record their groanes [ 5 ]
Who were thy Sheep and in their antient Fold
Slayn by the bloody Piemontese that roll’d
Mother with Infant down the Rocks. Their moans

The Vales redoubl’d to the Hills, and they
To Heav’n. Their martyr’d blood and ashes sow [ 10 ]
O’re all th’ Italian fields where still doth sway …

—The second slight problem is that none of those citing the pontifical pronouncement by Sami Michael are bothering to mention that Michael is a life-long Stalinist. He grew up in the communist party in Iraq, which contained a significant Jewish contingent in the 1940s.
(It also contained a large Christian contingent. Michael is not the only Iraqi-Jewish Stalinist in Israel working against Israel, by the way.) And he has remained a hard-core communist his whole life. His above attempt to link the “struggles” of Sephardic Jews and Arabs is typical of this crowd. Amos Oz and A.B. Yehoshua are harmless innocents compared with communist Michael.So let us get this straight.
The same writer who insists that Israel is the most racist country on earth has never been much disturbed by, nor has he ever denounced, any of the acts of Stalin, including mass murders, ethnic cleansings, mass starvations approaching genocidal levels of death, the mass expulsions, the collaboration with Hitler, and so on. None of those things strike Michael as racist.
It is instructive because Michael has long served as the president of the so-called Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI). The ACRI is interested in many things

ke supporting extremism, while civil rights is one of the things it is not interested in, at least not when it comes to the civil rights of Jews. The ACRI does not think Jews are deserving of any human rights—Steven Plaut. Read More: image:

The fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the yers when heresy was crushed and yet the Church was not reformed, were the great centuries of European mysticism: the Neo-Platonic mysticism of the Germans Suso and Tauler, the Dutch mysticism of Ruysbroeck and Thomas a Kempis, the English mysticism of Mergery Kempe and Richard Rolle…


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