A Phenomenological Midrash of Genesis 22
Chapter III: Gesticulative Mischaracterizations: When Fiction is a Bodily Fact 44
Chapter III Gesticulative Mischaracterizations: When Fiction is a Bodily Fact A thing can never be presented personally and ultimately has no identity. Violence is applied to the thing; it seizes and disposes of the thing. Things give, they do not offer a face. They are beings without a face. —Emmanuel Levinas1 thics as first Philosophy” is not just a philosophical challenge but also a bodily challenge. When Levinas calls for Ethics as First Philosophy, in which one resists privileging representa- tions over specifics, he is not merely saying that one can go from the repre- sentation to the specific or from the specific to the representation. The priv- ileging of teleodogma is more insidious and complicated than this. He is also talking about the danger of the moment when one’s gestures to or with the other enact that the other is no more than a representation or idea, where the other as an object can be grasped and tinkered with as one might grasp and tinker with an idea. This is exemplified in Pharaoh’s relationship with Sarai. In this chapter, we find Pharaoh wanting to rape Sarai. Seeing her as an object for himself, Pharaoh does not see Sarai as an other to him. She–as other–doesn’t count for him. What counts is what Pharaoh believes Sarai to be an object for his pleasure. From where Sarai stands, she is not what “E A Gesticulative Mischaracterizations B 45 Pharaoh thinks her to be. She is not an object for...
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