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‘The Fall of God into Meaning’: Painting Time in Jacob Wrestling with the Angel

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 July 2009

Abstract

The future as an event cannot be analysed solely through its simple relation to the known or recognized world, but through its unexpected dimensions: its being beyond history and the way it performs commandments and ethical obligations. Two visual interpretations of the biblical story of Jacob Wrestling with the Angel, by Eugène Delacroix and Paul Gauguin, are at the centre of my discussion. The main theoretical tool for discussing the issues of time and the future is the philosophical writing of Emmanuel Levinas.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © International Federation for Theatre Research 2009

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References

NOTES

1 Levinas, Emmanuel, Time and the Other, tr., ed. and introduced by Cohen, Richard A. (Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press, 1987), p. 77Google Scholar.

2 For an analysis of the biblical narrative and its projections see Roland Barthes, ‘The Struggle with the Angel: Textual Analysis of Genesis 32:23–33’, in Roland Barthes et al., eds., Structural Analysis and Biblical Exegesis, tr. Alfred M. Johnson (Pittsburgh: Pickwick Press, 1974), pp. 21–33; and Ilana Pardes, The Biography of Ancient Israel: National Narratives in the Bible (Tel Aviv: Hakkibutz Hameuchad Publishing House and Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, 2001).

3 Pardes, The Biography of Ancient Israel, p. 120.

4 Barthes, Roland, ‘The Struggle with the Angel’. Robert Alter, Genesis: Translation and Commentary (New York: Norton, 1996)Google Scholar.

5 Levinas, Time and the Other, p. 89.

6 The text runs, ‘he touched his hip socket’, and Robert Alter explains, ‘The inclination of modern translation to render the verb here as ‘Struck’ is unwarranted . . . But the verb nag'a . . . means ‘to touch’, even ‘barely touch’ . . . The adversary maims Jacob with a magic touch.’ Robert Alter, Genesis: Translation and Commentary, p. 181.

7 Epstein, Daniel, Near and Far (Tel Aviv: Ministry of Defense, 2005), pp. 92–3Google Scholar.

8 Levinas, Time and the Other, pp. 88–9.

9 Alter, Genesis: Translation and Commentary, p. 183.

10 Levinas, Time and the Other, p. 88.

11 For these issues see the discussion of Quinn, Michael, ‘Concepts of Theatricality in Contemporary Art History’, Theatre Research International, 20, 2 (Summer 1995), pp. 106–13CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Here according to InfoTrac OneFile, Thomson Gale, Tel Aviv University, 12 August 2007, http://find.galegroup.com/itx/infomark.do?&contentSet=IAC-Documents&type=retrieve&tabID=T002&prodId=ITOF&docId=A17634901&source=gale&srcprod=ITOF&userGroupName=tel_aviv&version=1.0.

12 Fischer-Lichte, Erika, ‘From Theatre to Theatricality: How to Construct Reality’, Theatre Research International, 20, 2 (Summer 1995), pp. 97105CrossRefGoogle Scholar. Here according to InfoTrac OneFile, Thomson Gale, Tel Aviv University, 12 August 2007, http://find.galegroup.com/itx/infomark.do?&contentSet=IAC-Documents&type=retrieve&tabID=T002&prodId=ITOF&docId=A17634899&source=gale&srcprod=ITOF&userGroupName=tel_aviv&version=1.0.

13 Fischer-Lichte, ‘From Theatre to Theatricality’.

14 Ernst Mach, in ‘Notes on the Antimetaphysical’, is cited here from Erika Fischer-Lichte, ‘From Theatre to Theatricality’.

15 Levinas, Time and the Other, p. 115.

16 Richard Cohen, ‘Translator's Introduction’, in Levinas, Time and the Other, p. 24.