Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Reading the Runes of Rieff's Oracular Prose

"A mixture of transgressive and therapeutic parodies of personal devotion, without intensifications of the interdictory form, now dominate both our cultural and political life," wrote Philip Rieff in his posthumous Charisma, the first draft of which was written in the 1970s:
... as all true discipleship becomes impossible, under these theatrical conditions, so all charismatic authority becomes false, which is the same as to say transgressive -- against the interdictory form rather than an intensification of it. The gimmick itself becomes a masking affect, hiding the absence of genuinely personal authority in the older sense, an absent superiority.
The result?
... the decorum and deportment slowly built upon charismatic authority by credal elites gives way to the therapies of effervescence produced to create action all the more responsive for being without the old weights of conviction. The leader himself becomes weightless, a flickering shifting image. There is nothing of the old monumentalism about him ....
Think about it.

1 comment:

Athos said...

Sorry, Gil. Rieff is most obscure as Girard in first offing. You must ply your gifted interpretive wiles for us, I fear. Ply away!