foreign.body on Mon, 15 Jan 96 03:04 MET

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new wars of religion

"Like others before, the new 'wars of religion' unleash themselves over
the human earth (which is not the world) and struggle even today to control
the sky with fingers and eyes: digital systems and virtually immediate
panoptical visualization, air space, telecommunications satellites,
information highways, concentration of capitalistic-mediatic power - in
three words, digital culture, jet and TV without which there could be no
religious manifestation today, for example no voyage or discourse of the
Pope, no widespread fascination of Jewish, Christian or Moslem cults,
be they 'fundamentalist' or not. Given this, the cyberspatialized or
cyberspaced wars of religion have no stakes other than this determination
of the 'world', of 'history', of the 'day' and of the 'present'.
The stakes certainly can remain implicit, insufficiently thematized, poorly
articulated. By repressing them, on the other hand, many others can also
be dissimulated or displaced. Which is to say, as is always the case with
the topics of repression, inscribed in other places or other systems; this
never occurs without symptoms and fantasies, without specters
(phantasmata) to be investigated. In both cases and according to both
logics, we ought to take into account every declared stake in its greatest
radicality as well as asking ourselves what the depths of such radicality
might virtually encrypt, down to its very roots. The declared stakes
already appear to be without limit: what is the 'world', the 'day', the
'present' (hence, all of history, the earth, the humanity of man, the
rights of man, the rights of man and of woman, the political and cultural
organization of society, the difference between man, god and animal, the
phenomenality of the day, the value or 'indemnity' of life, the right to
life, the treatment of death, etc.)? What is the present, which is to say:
What is history? time? being? being in its purity (that is, unscathed, safe,
sacred, holy, heilig)? What of holiness or of sacredness? Are they the
same thing? What of the divinity of God? How many meanings can one
give to theion? Is this a good way to pose the question?"

"There is insufficient space to multiply in this regard the images or the
indications, one could say the icons of our time: the organization,
conception (generative forces, structures and capital) as well as the
audiovisual representation of cultic or socio-religious phenomena. In a
digitalized 'cyberspace', prosthesis upon prosthesis, a heavenly glance,
monstrous, bestial or divine, something like an eye of CNN watches
permanently: over Jerusalem and its three monotheisms, over the
multiplicity, the unprecedented speed and scope of the moves of a Pope
versed in televisual rhetoric (of which the last encyclical, Evangelium
vitae, against abortion and euthanasia, for the sacredness or holiness of a
life that is safe and sound - unscathed, heilig, holy - for its
reproduction in conjugal love - sole immunity admitted, with priestly
celibacy, against the virus of human immuno-deficiency (HIV) -, is
immediately transmitted, massively 'marketed' and available on CD-ROM;
everything down to the signs of presence in the mystery of the Eucharist is
'cederomised'; over airborn pilgrimages to Mecca; over so many miracles
transmitted live (most frequently, healings, which is to say, returns to
the unscathed, heilig, holy, indemnifications) followed by commercials,
before thousands in an American television studio; over the international
and televisual diplomacy of the Dalai Lama, etc.   So remarkably adapted to
the scale and the evolutions of global demography, so well adjusted to the
technoscientific, economic and mediatic powers of our time, the power of
all these phenomena to bear witness finds itself formidably intensified, at
the same time as it is collected in a digitalized space by supersonic
airplanes or by audiovisual antenna. The ether of religion will always have
been hospitable to a certain spectral virtuality. Today, like the sublimity
of the starry heavens at the bottom of our hearts, the 'cyberspaced'
religion also entails the accelerated and hypercapitalized relaunching of
founding specters. On CD-ROM, heavenly trajectories of satellites, Jet,
TV, Email or Internet networks. Actually or virtually universalizable,
ultra-internationalizable, incarnated by new 'corporations' that are
increasingly independent of the powers of states (democratic or not, it
makes little difference at bottom, all of that has to be reconsidered, like
the 'globalatinity' of international law in its current state, which is
to say, on the threshold of a process of accelerated and unpredictable