'Erotic' religion. Your favorite kind.

ED-AJ312_book04_DV_20090408150041.jpgFrom a review of Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg’s new book, The Murmuring Deep: Reflections on the Biblical Unconscious. It’s a doozy.

“Philosophy begins, then, with the questioning of certainties in the realm of knowledge and the cultivation of the love of wisdom,” Critchley writes in a witty miscellany of death called The Book of Dead Philosophers. “Philosophy is erotic, not just epistemic.”

That word, “erotic,” leaps at you. Who knew syllogisms were so titillating? Yet Critchley isn’t kidding (though the book profits from the New School professor’s deadpan humor). By “erotic” he alludes to phenomena that defy rigorous systems of evidence-gathering, hypothesis, and verification. Obviously, “erotic” has other senses, too—hunger, desire, arousal, sex. Again, these are apt in describing the spirit that animates pursuits of knowledge and understanding. That spirit is, you might say, a real turn on.

Put “religion” in place of “philosophy” and you might have a viable introduction to Avivah Gottlieb Zornberg’s ambitious, erudite, and—there’s no other word to describe its dizzying effect—psychedelic book, The Murmuring Deep: Reflections on the Biblical Unconscious. Religion, Judaism in this case, is erotic in that it’s a human institution built on non-concrete things like language, tradition, and faith. But religion also mirrors eros by manifesting a primal human urge to look into the void and make sense of it.

Whole review at Search magazine.

July 3, 2009 2:46 PM | | Comments (0)


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