also in Niebuhr’s work, agape and
eros bespeak two entirely different spiritual worlds. Any connection they might
have historically derives from misunderstanding and a misattribution of the qualities of one for the other.
However, for feminist theologians this bifurcation of love into the forms of
a profane embodiment on the one hand, versus a sacred disembodiment on the
other, has had unmistakably negative consequences for women. Women have
been almost exclusively identified with the negative aspects of eros, and as a
some of the dance movements of the puppets, particularly of the smaller ones,
very graceful?’ (Kleist in Cixous, 1992: 33; hereafter cited as Kleist). By this subtle and indirect means Cixous notes that grace enters Kleist’s text. She remarks
that it, nonetheless, does so very slowly and under the cover of the banal, for
graces need be understood to be little more than the qualifier of a movement in
the context of the dancer’s initial proposal (Cixous, 1992: 33). In this sense Cixous
is reminding us of the trap of binary distinctions. The sacred and profane are
it is notable that unlike most writers associated with the Frankfurt School,
whose cultural interests rarely extend beyond the realm of ‘high’ modern art,
Bloch turns his attention to a far wider range of socio-cultural phenomena.
Juxtaposing the sacred and the profane, the ideal and the material, the subjective and the objective, the religious and the secular, the past and the present,
Bloch seeks a way beyond the strict dictates of crude accumulation (of capital
and culture) and towards a more constructive (re)appropriation and curation
of things past.
Promethea (henceforth Promethea) to one of her central theoretical concerns, the explicit role of love in the self/other relation, Cixous
draws together the threads of the conditions of divinity and the conditions of
feminine subjectivity that have been scattered through her previous inquiries.
The questions she poses circulate, to some extent, around an age-old opposition
between sacred and profane love. Yet they do so only in order to disrupt this
very distinction. In the figure of Promethea, one of the protagonists of this
tale, we find an exemplary trope of Cixous
Melancholic dispositions and conscious unhappiness
quotidian context, repositioning them in an alternative constellation, prompting repressed
meanings to be revealed. Yet, while such revelations are said to temporarily
‘flash up’ at a moment of danger, they do not constitute religious epiphanies;
on the contrary, they remain thoroughly materialistic, anthropological, creaturely – profane illuminations, in Benjamin’s own terms.56 In trying to reconstitute a kind of active engagement and agency, melancholia and Surrealism
share a common suspicion over the constitutive powers of the rationalizing
subject, and instead
The beginning of aesthetic theory and the end of art
, so to speak, ‘subjectify being’. He relates to the particular plant, animal, or whatever, in an intense
manner which ‘normal’ people lack, and his means of communicating his experience is images, rather than intrinsically general words.
I do not wish to argue here that mental pathologies can lead to profane revelation, but given the grave diﬃculties in adequately identifying and understanding many such pathologies, an openness to the possibilities they may also
oﬀer is essential. If one accepts the fact that these pathologies need not just be
the unsolved problems