In the name of the Father, Job’s name. The role of interpellation in practices of subjection

1. Words in the storm

“And yet you have said, “What does God know? Can he judge through the dark cloud? The clouds, to him, are an impenetrable veil, as he goes his way on the rim of the heavens. And will you still follow the ancient trail trodden by the wicked, those who were borne off before their time, whose foundations were swamped by a flood?” (22:13-16). Much of the Book of Job revolves around the age-old problem of the word: of cursing and blessing, of saying evil and saying good (of God and his creatures, men, starting from the wager between God and Satan, right to the end, when it will be said that Job was the only one who spoke with righteousness), of correctly understanding what is said, convincingly shining the light of discourse into the darkness of ambiguity, naming things properly and thus designating clear figures which would otherwise be indistinct in a storm-whipped universe. The Book of Job foregrounds the issue of words — starting with the word Job itself, the name Job: yyîôb,1 an ancient Semitic name that poses its fair share of interpretation problems. While on one hand these few letters are a portmanteau of the adverb of place ’ayyeh, and ’ab, (father), creating a moniker that poses an urgent and distressing question (which sounds more or less like “Where is the father?”), on the other in Hebrew the term can easily be likened to the similar word ôyyeb, meaning rival, enemy, no less (to the point that Job will one day ardently plead to God, «Perhaps you confuse me, yob, with ôyyeb, your enemy?» (Babylonian Talmud, Baba Batra, 16a)).2 Much of the Book of Job dwells on this suspicion: that Job actually embodies a paradigmatic sin, be that impiety, non-observance of ritual, or arrogant presumption; and that his story can be understood as that of a return to order, after a lengthy period of excess (no further detail needed). As Girard explains,3 the community cannot achieve stability, or purport to be steadfast and sovereign, so long as there is indecision over the position of even one of its members (in order that the creeping, pervasive violence be entirely channelled towards a single individual, who is called to pay the price on behalf of all the others,4 this individual must be indisputably guilty of a crime which fully and unambiguously legitimizes the punishment). What and how much weight do words carry in this process of adjustment, and names, which have the power to identify, to pin down — if the accusation is to remain permanently associated with the person, until it is no longer viewed as a suspicion, but a state of affairs visible to all and beyond doubt? It might therefore be interesting to start from this, from the word Job, the name Job, and return to the biblical account and its undecidable ambiguity — acknowledging the metamorphic echo that accompanies its progression from century to century, passed from hand to hand, starting from the very title of the book. Traditionally grouped with the Books of Wisdom, the text offers a distinctive example of so-called “compression”:5 scholars agree that it is a composite element, an assemblage of passages of different styles and origins, which also present large chronological and contextual differences. Set between a prologue and an epilogue in prose — recalling an ancient tale with a folkloristic slant — it contains a complex, heterogeneous poetic series of three dialogues: to which we have to add a fourth, that of the younger Eliu, interspersed with further additions which blend in to varying degrees, such as the poetic section on wisdom (chapter 28) or the cosmological and cosmogonic passages delivered from the mouth of God. It is therefore characterised by the presence of numerous subsequent additions, textual contributions which can be traced, and which have gradually been identified (work which is always in progress and up for review) in a lengthy process of exploration and excavation that drills down through an equally lengthy, complex stratification. The entire book, however, is considered canonical — namely acknowledged to have a single or shared inspiration, refracted by what is therefore held to be a community of authors; this multiple structure notwithstanding, what emerges is an organic whole, albeit never fully consistent. So how do all these themes fit together, how can we take one (single?) message from this multitude of voices6 that intersect, contradicting one another, overlapping or giving rise to endless repetition? Is it possible to trace a unifying principle, identify a cornerstone that helps us read the mosaic, find a key that helps us to decide the meaning, and get our bearings? Let’s delve into the layers: from the furthest back, whose exact distance from us is obscured by its fairy tale tone — a narrative suspended in a time and a place known only to the story itself (“once upon a time, in the lost land of Us …”), to the so-called dialogues, the heated confrontations in poetry between Job and his friends — which are not properly dialogues: each speaker takes the floor and speaks for himself, and the text wisely leaves out the identity of the person each speech is directed at. Only the arrival of God, amidst the confusion and murky gloom of the storm, brings an authentic, explicit form of questioning (Then from the heart of the tempest the LORD gave Job his answer (38:1), The LORD spoke to Job, saying / Job replied to the LORD, saying (40:1-3)). Any mutual unity or correspondence between the various passages remains indefinite and without connection, abruptly interspersed with undecidable deviations, and in the same way, the contents of each section reject coherence and unambiguity – something that might silence or even detract from a multifaceted, nuanced reality. Yet, «a text is not only interesting because it is logically organized, for the apparently religious way which it develops its themes, but also for what disorganizes its order, what weakens it»;7 and perhaps this text in particular presents its precarious, never fully achieved consistency, its ultimately dissonant words as its signature characteristic, the characteristic that paradoxically binds it all together.8 What is the aim of the four friends, the sincere intention of their gradually more convoluted speeches — is it a genuine attempt to share in the suffering, to bring an incoherent sinner to his senses, or is it actually a concealed form of coercion with a sacrificial bent? What is Job’s place in society: fallen, arrogant dignitary, public tophet, restored nobleman (what are we to call him)? It is no coincidence that the question of the right place and the correct position — the topological question — crops up repeatedly (it is the first utterance addressed to a specific interlocutor: “where do you come from?” God asks Satan twice in the prologue alone) and it remains without a sure answer, vague, never finding firm ground — for the entirety of the text; starting from its core, from the name of its main character, Job. We therefore come back, in a somewhat circular fashion, to what was said above. The text itself tries in part to convince us that it has a beginning and a clearly traced linear progression that starts from a precise place, and which makes it exemplary: in a time now forgotten there was a virtuous and pious man, but he cannot have been that virtuous if he was befallen with everything that happens in the story: this is basically what the first friends say — that Job must effectively be a hostile, mean-spirited ôyyeb, that he must have behaved in that way, that he must have done something wrong, that he has in some way dirtied his hands (hence the sores that disfigure them, a visible manifestation of a poorly concealed transgression). If he has to answer for something, it is because behind him, concealed, a sin has been committed, the outcome of which must be assuaged. Or perhaps, to make sense of the story: there may not be proof of wrong-doing, an identifiable material sin for us to look upon and point a finger at, a quantifiable offence, so there must therefore be an entirely spiritual vice, an excess of pride — Eliu’s reasoning: here it is, arrogance, the definitive scandal! — that the hapless fellow is being punished for (and again, rightly punished — this is not up for question). This would make the tale consistent, part of a more harmonious system, with a beginning (once upon a time), then, after a long and perilous odyssey, a happy ending of redemption and exculpation (Then Job died, old and full of days (42:17)). What’s in a name, indeed: this version of events would give his name a definitive meaning, and lend a definitive sense to the events unfolding. The story would thus become a (fulfilled) prophecy, a fate mapping the journey of the mythical hero, leaving him with no way out, no alternative but to travel the ancient path taken since time immemorial by the impious (such as Job, as the enemy of God and danger to the community, evidently was). And for the word which tells his story and in turn becomes the story, it is easier to follow and adapt to this decisive, indisputable state of things, something that is settled, for once. It is true that to some extent the text resists being reined in like this — a struggle that is played out precisely in the additional passages, the top-up lines, the sudden apparitions and exclamations that unexpectedly rumble out of the storm — just as Job eludes the path forcibly traced out for him, but not by him. So “where is the Father” in all of this? Is He effectively the basis of the discourse Job’s friends expound and profess expertise in, the foundation of that wisdom which is a moral and religious law; is He the axiomatic, proven and necessary starting point of the demonstration that leads from Job’s misfortunes to his consequent sin, to an enmity to be assuaged (and that therefore inexorably applies to the individual Job, identified as the enemy)? Or is He the artifice required to close the circle and close in on the victim, by virtue of an invented, or in any case subtly constructed enmity, because something, some shared torment, has to be alleviated – thus defining and forcing him into a zero-sum calculation? It is relevant to know whether the glitches in the narration are smoothed out and resolved by the name, or whether this is a surreptitious way to force unity on something that does not spontaneously and freely form a unit, therefore becoming a device that creates order.9 On the one hand, therefore, we have the poised, settled discourse, which has on its side the luminous evidence, the shining clarity, of reason, that operates on the basis of strict, iron-clad logic that — as Girard shows — underpins any kind of expiatory mechanism. On the other hand there is Job’s protest, which — starting from the name — presents itself as a question, and which exposes reason for what it is: «the Book of Job […] is the phenomenological discovery and the metaphysical announcement of the disaster to which instrumental reason leads».10 If we retrace the book from the beginning, observe once more the intersection of resistances and contrasts that arise between its characters, and between its sections, we might wonder whether it is not one single, singular, dynamic: an accumulation of questions and answers, in which it is possible for the reader to detect the dissonances — to separate the wheat from the chaff,11 as it were — and to identify the misleading effect of a nebulous lie in the inscrutable truth of the sacred discourse. «In the fields with which we are concerned, knowledge comes only in lightning flashes. The text is the long roll of thunder that follows»:12 it might just be the case that, in the pages and words that gather and thicken like clouds, blocking our gaze and obstructing our understanding, there may come, like a flash, the revelation of something that the book does not even actually conceal, but rather, in the cacophony and in the storm13 (in Job’s voice), loudly declares.

2. The name, the subjection

So let’s start from the beginning again, and the encounter with Job, already beset by misfortune, struck down with malignant ulcers from the sole of his foot to the top of his head (2:7): could things have gone differently, or is his a great and supernatural misfortune, and therefore necessary? To be on the safe side, Job decamps to the edge of the city, its outer limits, and from there he airs his grievances and protests. Disconsolately perched on a heap of ashes — the Semitic term mazbele indicates a rubbish dump, a pile of detritus14 — a tangible representation of his slippery position, his situation, at this height, of considerable estrangement from the community.15 And indeed the community does not recognize him immediately, finds it hard to identify him: their first impression is of something monstrous, a foreign body (Job is a reject, situated in distance and difference, he is not part of the set-up, like someone who is excluded due to their diversity): just who is this man, bemoaning his situation, covered, almost obscured by dust – a permanently undesirable element to eliminate, or a lost member of the flock whose insubordination has been overcome, and who is to be cautiously welcomed back in? Is it Job, lost but still virtuous or at least a compliant notable, or is it Job, the incorrigible sinner? This distinction is not unimportant. If it is not yet known, and impossible to say, before long it will be necessary to make a decision: make a show of knowing, and be convincing about it. For the sake of keeping the peace in every city and group of people, each individual must have their own identifiable role, must be situated on their own (unique, indistinguishable) step of the Degree,16 so that there is harmony, for the community to find the peace that lies in acting as one, the image of an organic system working in unison. The chosen victim cannot complain, he must accept the sentence chosen for him, which comes down on him as if from above, which constrains him on all sides, superhuman, like a divine punishment: and if he does not willingly submit, he must be compelled to do so, so that he learns that no-one can escape the destiny that awaits him. And thus, as at the beginning of the book, the fable reappears, here in its performative and productive sense, as Derrida indicated: fable «in the sense of 'making like' knowledge ['faire' savoir], i.e. giving the impression of knowing, giving the effect of knowledge, resembling knowing where there isn’t necessarily any knowing».17 They raised their eyes from afar, but they did not recognize him (2:12); despite this, or precisely for this reason, the friends will have the unavoidable task of finding the right place for this suffering man, reintroducing him into the ranks he has deserted and around which he confusedly orbits, and identifying a term for him, a name. It will be necessary to reinvent a myth, a method or a path along which he can be accompanied, or rather led back to the order he has lost, starting with a public performance of mourning: a dramatic rending of clothes, howling, and raising of dust. Shocking scenes call for an immediate response, which mingles urgency and the ceremony of ritual — But who can withhold himself from speaking? (4:2) asks Eliphaz, the first to speak, almost excusing himself for his impatience. Eliphaz effectively illustrates a sophisticated differential structure, the proportioned balance that sustains human coexistence – an infallible system of retribution, manifestation of the divine (attested to by the prodigious, heavenly revelation brought on by a light breeze, a voice out of the silence (4:15-16) which traces Elijah’s encounter with the divinity in The Book of Kings). After rapidly painting a picture in which who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the upright ever cut off? (4:7) it is necessary to illustrate and highlight the difference between the impious — who seem to suffer for their dissolution — the enemy, the notorious ôyyeb — and those who, on the other hand, escape suffering (or are more likely to inflict suffering, with no qualms, convinced of their good faith): but as for me (ulam), I would seek God (5:8). Efficaciously, right from the opening lines, we see a trench being dug, that is traced only afterwards but already impassable; a clear divide between the good and the bad, between Job and his friends, which legitimizes, even to the inscrutable eyes of the divinity, the disparity of their situations. Because the latter are messengers of God, or at least claim a monopoly on Him: they place themselves in the unquestionable, certain position, ex cathedra, of those who are in possession of knowledge to be imparted as if from on high, and that the lost soul evidently does not possess (otherwise he would not be in this sorry state: tautological reasoning, with a coercive, circular power), and of which he must be convinced or persuaded. His friends know they are in a better position than he is, by virtue of not being afflicted by what afflicts him — and of having witnessed similar episodes during their now long existence, the unfolding and outcome of which they followed perhaps too closely and with excessive zeal, getting involved directly, and which they (strangely enough!) have always escaped themselves; episodes that they have interpreted and worked into a positive belief system (I speak from experience (4:8), All this we have observed and it is so! Listen, you will know for yourself! (5:27)). The result is a mechanism that can be described fairly accurately, a privileged sense of flow, verified and belonging to the sphere of things and human beings. Its precipitate is history, the only version apparently possible, a chronicle with scientific claims, which «portays everything as if it could never have come otherwise. Yet it could have happened in a hundred different ways. History is on te side of what has happened, detaching it in a stringer content from was has not happened. Among all possibilities, it banks on the one, the surviving one».18 A precise scheme that apportions blame and allocates the respective punishments, that establishes who is high up in the city, and who is rejected, and must clearly be expelled. The past is semantized, translated into a system that admits no exceptions and carries the weight of divine providence and natural determinism together (so much so that an endless plethora of examples and images extrapolated from the whole universe, from the animal world to the mineral one, attest to it), in short, an entirely incontestable system. In this scheme, which is applied with surgical precision, as an “order” imposed on the real, woven into its make-up, and that can no longer be distinguished from reality itself,19 Job must be included: he cannot inhabit its margins, its substance, like a film of ash, but must play his part, must be named. Until he is convinced that he belongs in this order, until he is forced into it or, alternatively, eliminated, the figure of Job will represent an annoying flaw that will ruin every discourse, in which every word will eventually get lost, and which escapes the composition.20 This is, of course, an infallible model that is applied to every story, and that where necessary, lends its tutelage to any kind of event — so much so that it could even be described as a-historical: in the sense that it goes beyond history, or rather it indicates how history is to be interpreted, and it admits the existence of a single, sole,21 coherent, meaningful history (this structure and functioning are what makes a universal story possible). Through this word, this discourse, each event determines and represents the totality of the drama, suggests it by referring to it: and thus, obviously, makes it true. The best course of action in any given situation is consigned to the letter of the law, which also stipulates what is to be done if the tenets are not respected. This law is distorted by the numinous aura of transcendence, which identifies with and overlays God’s will and power, leaving no grey areas, to the point of theophany (Can God deflect the course of right, or Shaddai falsify justice? [8:3]): it goes without saying that nothing escapes it, that nothing can be unexpected, or, even more so, gratuitous. Why should Job be an exception? He too must take his place in this grand plan. It therefore remains for his friends to demonstrate how his punishment corresponds to an equal and opposite crime (also and above all in the event that he is not willing to recognize and admit it himself, bring it to light, as shining evidence, and expose it to a clarity verging on the tautological). His fate is carefully sketched out, like a map: having fallen into disgrace — despite the fact that this fall may have been caused by the very hands that now offer a show of comfort and explanation — and brought to his knees outside the city, he must now show his vulnerable side and meekly turn around and head back there (or, what equates to the same thing in this grand design — be eliminated:22 either way, making himself scarce) after acknowledging the legitimacy and immediate urgency of the punishment. We therefore see the ordering power of mendacious transcendence at work, a productive power, which arises from the process of incitement. This is the case right from the prologue, in which Satan himself figures. Even before he appears as a character, a theological and mythological entity, Satan plays a specific role within the wider drama (before he even has a proper name, he has a title: the “adversary”.23 Indeed he functions as an agent, insinuating the doubt and setting the tone for the inquisition procedure). His approach is indeed one of insinuation,24 not an outright accusation — for full coercive efficacy, this must eventually come from Job himself: it must take the form of an irreversible reflection, self-accusation and confession. For Job to become an example (in the Vulgate exemplum, in the Hebrew text tophet, the subject of public derision), he himself must present himself as such; he must be persuaded or forced — the reasoning in any case is unassailable — to acknowledge his own guilt, and the fact that his position is compromising, therefore disposable, in the eyes of all others (the whole community, drawing around him menacingly), with whom he must fall back into step, and take on their perspective and discourse (including that which regards him, his nefarious reputation, his very name). And while this admission partially releases him from his alleged crime, and the accession of his suspected enmity at least enables both parties to use a shared language and alleviates some of the tension, it does not exonerate him from persecution and mistrust. Althusser showed how the subordination of the subject frequently occurs through language and naming, the interpellation of an authoritative voice that summons the individual, beckons him, asks him to turn around, effecting a conversion25 (in Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses, the image is that of a police officer who hails a passer-by, and of the passer-by who, responding to the order, is also ordered by it, identified by it). Can this device be applied to Job? Here again it is striking to note the performative power of the authoritative voice, embodied by the friends, the wise, elderly spokesmen of a wisdom that is at once religious, natural and social (the performative power transmitted in their voice of injunction and threat, above all). Job is therefore required to turn back, acknowledge that he is in the wrong, admit that he is an enemy or hostile presence and meekly accept his punishment without so much as raising his head in protest — thus returning from the so-called rubbish dump to the city, from the de-consecrated periphery to the regulated centre, from protest to established order, or alternatively he must succumb to his destiny, to the barely disguised lynching that is underway. What the friends are attempting to do with the naming process is to cast Job as a well identified subject: in this way, as an enemy, as ôyyeb, he would definitively belong to the category of others, those individuals that are abhorrent due to their alien, extraneous status. «As we know […] the “others” are not only excluded and inferior; they become, as individuals and as a collectivity, the point of support for a second-order imaginary crystallization whereby they are endowed with a series of attributes and, behind these attributes, an evil and perverse essence justifying in advance everything one might propose to subject them to».26 From this perspective, a harmonious whole would be recreated, in which «every individual is called by his name, in the passive sense»27 — in which each individual is contained in the word, is framed and defined by it, and therefore, because interpellated, comes to occupy a precise place in the world: recalled, he would take up a fixed, incontestable position, a role foreseen only for him. The name therefore signifies much more than a mere vocal flow, becoming almost vice-like: around it grows the binding recognition of a destination that there is the attempt to impose, and through it an order is given (in the double sense of command and organization). And this multiple interpellation, refracted by the various individuals, orders a broad structure, a community — a disciplined, well-established multiplicity, a universal hierarchy that obviously could not exist without a primary referent, a cornerstone (the sole, absolute subject which is the divinity). After all, isn’t God the subject par excellence28I am who i am, I am the one who is (Ex. 3:14), being itself — the unequivocal, central starting point of every centred ideology? Yet Job challenges this centre, asks it to show its position, asks for it to be repositioned: where is the father?29 What lends legitimacy to the events unfolding? This is a possibility that, as per Althusser, resides inside the mechanism itself; there is always the chance that the call might go unanswered, that the injunction runs the risk of not being acknowledged, the person hailed may well not recognize himself in what the name given to him, at that moment, defines — he might distance himself from the charges, and refuse to point the finger against himself; and if this happens, everything that the discursive constitution fails to fix in place or classify will generate disorder, starting from the contested identity. If an integral part of the mechanism is an entire material, tangible dimension of confession and penance,30 if the verbal discourse of paradoxical self-accusation (against all common sense, against all evidence! protests Job) cannot remain an interior discourse, or something that is passively accepted, but has to be actively embraced, not least by the victim himself, and externalized by him, translated into tangible or audible gestures — in practices that do not arise autonomously from the subject that produces them, because he is forced to do so, but which actually produce the subject that embodies (realigning the individual they have been prescribed to and imposed on with the status quo) —, then Job’s refusal to do so ruins the general order of things. In this scenario, it is no coincidence that it is an enormous sin (the greatest of all?) to speak evil, and to malign: to say words that are out of place and that clash with the given order, including words opposed to the order itself. To threaten Job, mention is made of the person in whose mouth evil is sweet, and he would hide it under his tongue, cultivating it carefully, (20:12-13); the person whose voice, whose words are venom and poison (20:14-16). Indeed this very thing will be his retribution — a precise, aseptic punishment (as Augustine recalled: «matters are so arranged at your command that every disordered soul is its own punishment»31): the toxin injected into the enemy’s body strikes and poisons, not least, he who inserted it: he used to suck vipers’ venom, and the tongue of the adder will kill him (20:16). The system that plunges into chaos, plunges its members into chaos, enveloping them in an ever more chaotic turmoil. And still Job continues to protest: How much longer are you going to talk like this, the words of your mouth a great puff of wind? (8:2), Bildad reproaches him. Like a wind that has the power to uproot, to throw everything into disarray, the very disorder of the words reveals Job’s refusal to comply, reveals that he is not part of the order of the world and the law, the mechanism that specifically and pervasively structures it. “One must pose oneself as the question”:32 Job proceeds hesitantly, grappling with false images and taking his distance from the moral order that those theologians present, and consequently rejecting the god that underpins them, that they assert as their primary reference. If the only possible system is that of the justice proclaimed by his friends, then Job — in spite of himself — becomes the upholder of disorder33 (in fact, he does not want to speak to them — he asks to speak to God, and indeed speaks to God through them). So let’s listen to what he has to say, let’s go back to the beginning, when Job spoke after a long silence — the seven ritual days, during which he was surrounded, encircled by the attentive, inquisitive gaze of his friends. His expression is less of a reasoned set of ideas, a rational conception, and more of a lament (with the same raving urgency). In the end it was Job who broke the silence and cursed the day of his birth (3:1). “That is why the verse begins here, in a quite unusual way, with the words patah yyîôb, 'Job opened his mouth.' The verb patah is not used at random; it literally means «the door” […]. Job has to open the door of language: it must burst open».34

3. The disaster of circumlocution. Let me hear none of your strumming, but let justice flow

Job finds himself basically surrounded — his friends’ words engulf and enclose him, caging him in on all sides, urging him to surrender. A process of structuring is underway, in which it is vital that unity be achieved, that the circle be completed: the three friends try to consolidate the system of representation based on identifying Job as a scapegoat — a conception that he himself has to take on, surrender and consent to. The discourse directed at him, and that traps him in its clutches, has the weight of a definitive pronouncement, an appellation that offers no possibility to appeal. It is a final reckoning, set in stone, that makes the victim the inception of social unity, and transfigures Job (still disfigured by disease, and hard to make out) into the enemy to be converted and disciplined, or the incurable evil to eradicate. The ancient path of the wicked thus opens up beneath his feet, casting him into utter anguish: with no-one to talk to, his speech is reduced to a private language that is cast adrift — rejected, ignored, or twisted. «Words, too, form a crowd; countless, they swirl about the head of the victim, gathering to deliver the coup de grace. The three series of speeches are like volleys of arrows aimed at the enemy of God»:35 the friends’ malevolent voices (a glaring oxymoron) are not just an image of and metaphor for collective violence, its sublimation, but also actively participate in the violence itself, in an intense, aggressive form of arrogance.36 Their performative value is evident: in their words37 Job sees himself being redefined as ôyyeb, the enemy, the predestined victim, the definitive persecuted figure (rightly persecuted, because he is an outlaw) — and he cannot answer back. All that is needed now is his consent for the insinuations to become a proven reality, and for any defamation to be avenged and consequently expiated. Then there would no longer be a gap between what is said and what took place, the only possible story would be mendacious mythography38 — Job’s destiny would become as deadly as it is inevitable, a destiny that is up to the bystanders to complete and conclude. «As mirrors set around in a circle transform a slender flame into a fairyland, acts of authority reflected in the constellation of consciousness are transfigured, and the reflections of these reflections create an appearance which is the proper place — the truth, in short — of historical action».39 However, the condition for this refraction is that there must not be any cracks, and that the surface is flat throughout, so it reflects a consolidated, magnified image (glorified as mythical). To ensure that the reverberation is homogeneous, that it comes from all round and finds everyone in agreement, it has to be unanimous — all points of view must merge into one, which is no longer questionable and therefore (so it is agreed) is based on firm, shared ground. As has been said, the accused himself must be convinced of the truth of this perfect, definitive system, this binding causal relationship: he must be able to continually declare himself guilty as charged, in the wrong and ready to make amends, turning his cheek to the accuser as if in reparation. This rigorous, circular perfection, always equal to itself, is however underpinned by a tautological fallacy: it relies less on strength of reason and more on the reason of the strong, and it also underpins violence and abuse (the «violence» that is the «true 'referent' barely disguised in the threats of the friends and not disguised at all in Job’s laments»40). And the discourse deployed by the friends is in fact the expression of a theology that chases its tail, an essentially simple propaganda which is based on and reinforced by repetition: so much so that in the course of the book they invent and basically reiterate the same arguments, merely in an increasingly hostile, intolerant manner. This reiteration and reinforcement closes the circle even more tightly, leaving no way out for the victim, who is held firmly in its grasp. Yet by opposing them with his own discourse, Job subverts the mythology that was created to destroy him; he escape the name imposed on him,41 he «escapes [his] own history and renews [himself]».42 His attempt to distinguish between the two overlapping, blurred entities — god and the community43 — both equally and tenaciously opposed to him, represents a brusque rupture, a dramatic breach. Are you really defending God by falsehood, and by speaking deceit for him, and, taking his side like this, appoint yourselves as his advocates? (13:7-8). Job frantically attacks the validity of the orderly kosmos proposed by his friends, its claim to justice and justness (the deception of the law and the violence that it conceals, like «what was in force — on condition of remaining latent and tacit —»44). He rails against the legitimacy of the universal scientia that his friends propose to him — he struggles to break free from their persuasive arguments, which surround and entrap him. Hence the two registers, the two radically different discourses, that of the friends and that of Job. The sublime discourse of the friends, which not least cloaks itself in a sacred and esoteric aura, possesses creative power: the words that do not merely evoke the referent, but rather actively produce it. It is a religious sermon that constitutes the same order that it preaches (and that without the support of the sacred word would not continue to exist) — words that envelop bodies, apply to them and adhere to them, in order to take root in them, build and base its knowledge in them. Job’s harsh, inopportune voice, on the other hand, corrodes what is built up around him; his discourse has the power to dissolve things (discourse of course issued from a mouth viewed as impious and dissolute): where is the Father? Are we really entitled to use that name, the load-bearing structure of the crystalline glass house that is being constructed — can it be used, handled and appropriated as a source, as a horizon of meaning? Job’s speech, albeit rambling, takes the form of a question and a challenge: it brings down the foundations, at a stroke it cancels out the justification for the (sacrificial) technique being applied and its iron-clad, compelling, even suffocating logic. He cannot therefore present himself as a counterpart, an alternative — what wonder if my words have been wild? (6:3). He cannot appropriate the model he intends to combat, or share its lexicon and tone, which he must first escape and survive, before he can challenge it, so much so that the encounter between the two types of discourse cannot really be deemed a dialogue. However, it is equally opportune that he intervenes and speaks out as soon as possible — using not «current communication, that serves the controlling society of control, but a non-communicative word, capable of breaking, weakening this control»,45 to delineate something that inevitably remains unfinished, which does not accumulate and solidify into an alternative system, but which «is not a residue or a sequel of the past: it is a positive present».46 Where is the Father? If I go to the east, he is not there; or to the west, I cannot see him. If I seek him in the north, he is not to be found, invisible as ever, if I turn to the south (23:8-9). Once the centre of the edifice structured by the sacred has been removed and delegitimized,47 Job sees it being ruined and gradually becoming agitated — the institutional break-down that he embodies causes the institution itself to abandon its stance, to collapse: even from here, Girard suspects, the passages added subsequently, as attempts to silence or rectify the scandal — in a whirlwind which is indeed one of violent indifferentiation (which heightens the hostility against him), but which can also open up yet another scenario of dispersion. «There is always an exodus in the world, an exodus from the particular status quo. And there is always a hope, which is connected with rebellion»:48 in the Book of Job rebellion exerts a forceful, throbbing presence, but this ramping up of conflict does not necessarily call for a sacrifice — the restoring of a longed for unity and harmony by means of an expulsion. As we have said, its paradoxical fulcrum might lie precisely in its rejection of unity,49 the rupture with the centre of gravity and the settled, non-disturbable balance. Plunged into a scenario of absolute dispersion, Job cannot anticipate, in the name of the Father, the destiny of a new and different future, he cannot propose, or propose himself as, a starting point for an alternative scenario (he does not yet have a foothold anywhere, he is as if suspended, rarefied): the only options open to him are removal, desertion and withdrawal. And yet by the end of the book God will acknowledge that Job proved he was a more faithful witness than those who are accustomed to injustice, and therefore justify injustice; more truthful than those who unhesitatingly view it as a necessary fact within the human system, find a place for it (by mapping it within a system of retribution that is as impeccable as it is ruthless). Without making a direct attack, without explicitly unmasking the violent dimension of practices now entrenched and simply taken for granted, the fact of insinuating a doubt is enough to jeopardize its terrifying facade — and expose the reality that its constitution is not a given: though Job is not aware of, so cannot knowingly reveal, the fact that religion’s peace is rooted in a mechanism of violence, one hesitant word from him suffices to unleash an anything but peaceful reprisal. And yet, where the totality is structured as a concert of voices, in which any discrepancy is eliminated or forced to comply with the norm, this right to speak that he claims becomes justice;50 it becomes a precious testimony that safeguards and reinstates a different history. On one hand, the word of the sacred, as «the numinous [that] annuls the links between persons by making beings participate […] in a drama not brought about willingly by them, an order in which they founder»,51 and on the other the desecrating discourse, words that are disruptive, inadequate, insufficient for the context in which they arise; that raise dust and shake in the whirlwind, in the confusion of the storm: the place from which God will speak, and which Job foresees with fear — he crushes me with a tempest, and multiplies my wounds (9:17) — and which, once uttered «demands that one behave in an irresponsible manner (by means of treachery or betrayal), while still recognizing, confirming and reaffirming the very one thing sacrifices namely the order of ethics and human responsibilities».52 If the act of turning towards what the law requires, of submitting to and enduring its call and admonishment, also contains the promise of an identity that is at least secure — because it is inserted into a system of coherent representation, because it is ordered in and by that system — what is the result of refusing to yield to that and refusing to submissively join the hierarchy? Is he, from now on, expelled from what is intellegible and thus “real”, consigned to its margins?53 What Job makes clear is that the subject exists before being named as such, that the subject’s existence precedes his baptism in the embrace of the community and having a position assigned to him; and by breaking free from the sublime, persuasive words of his friends — rejecting their discourse and with it «the great form of tragedy, the highest of all forms»,54 Job makes it clear that this certainty cannot be removed by any voice, any claim. Therefore I shall not keep quiet: in anguish of my spirit I shall speak, in the bitterness of my soul I shall complain (7:11). Submission does not bring the individual to life out of thin air, and for this reason he can very well refuse the order given, and the profile traced for him – along with the impeccably finished rules envisaged for him. And thus he can prevent the closure of the loop, and sabotage it; which therefore means acting retroactively against the ordering authority, exceeding its reproach and undermining its unified operation — and now here it is, thrown into disarray, in pieces. We might then «reread being as precisely the potentiality that remains unexhausted by any particular interpellation»,55 which undermines both the identity that is prescribed for the subject and the identity of that community56 (including the individual in question) that draws him in to assign him a rank, but in doing so opens up new and not yet envisaged perspectives57 (and it is anybody’s guess whether these will come together homogeneously). «What is oneness and singularity of a voice? What is this formation or conformation which has nothing of a “universal particular”, aut which executes (interprets), on the contrary, this sharing in which, paradoxically, everything universal disappears? […] No meaning originates there, nor is any achieved there, but an always different (other) announcement is delivery there: that of the other, exactely».58Why not leave the set open, the door flung back — patah yyîôb — and allow multiple convergences and divergences, without demanding obedience to the normative telos of a definitional closure? Why not hope for a more just justice — and speak out for it, and take a stand? Let the text unfold beyond measure, to escape surreptitious attempts to silence it; let it overcome what is grafted into it, and grow over that, extinguishing it; let the word thunder out once more, cacophonous, indistinct and inopportune; let clouds gather round it, and, at the height of the tension, let it break open and rain down torrentially: I hate, I scorn your festivals; I take no pleasure in your solemn assemblies. When you bring me burnt offerings, your grain offerings, I do not accept them and I do not look at your communion sacrifices of fat cattle. Spare me the din of your chanting, let me hear none of your strumming on lyres but let justice flow like water and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream! (Am 5:21-24).

  1. For an analysis of the given name Job see i.e. E. Wiesel, D. Eisenberg, Job. Ou Dieu dans la tempête Fayard / Verdier, Paris 1987, pp. 79-80.; R. Vignolo, «Dov’è il Padre?» Il nome di Giobbe come chiave del suo dramma; W. F. ALBRIGHT, Northwest-semitic names in a list of Egyptian slaves from the 18th century B.C., in Journal of the American Oriental Society, 1954, vol. 74, n. 4, pp. 222-233, ff. 225; G. Borgonovo, La notte e il suo sole. Luce e tenebre nel Libro di Giobbe, Pontificio Istituto Biblico, Roma 1995, pp. 48-49. ↩︎

  2. «A famous text from the Midrash pictures Job as uncertain of his identity. It should be said that in Hebrew 'Job', yyîôb, is the passive form of the word ôyyeb, “the enemy”», cfr. E. Wiesel, D. Eisenberg, op. cit., p. 80. ↩︎

  3. see R. Girard, The violence and the sacred (1972), transtaled by P. Gregory, The Johns Hopkins University Press, London, 1989. «In our own society the passage from one status to another presents — at least in theory — only minor problems of adaptation, which are limited to those individuals directly involved in the process, those who are actually making the passage. Although this belief has been somewhat shaken in recent times, it continues to exert a strong influence on our thought and conduct. In primitive societies, however, the slightest change in the status of an isolated individual is treated as if it carried the potential to create a major crisis. What to us appear to be perfectly normal and predictable transitions, essential to the preservation of the social unit, are regarded by primitive man as porrents of apocalyptic upheaval (….). For if all violence involve a loss of difference, all losses of difference also involve violence; and this violence is contagious», ibid., p. 281; «As in Greek tragedy and primitive religion, it is not the differences aut the loss of them that gives rise to violence and chaos», ibid., p. 51; “Undifferentiation” is the term used in Violence and the Sacred to describe the state of a social group threatened by a “mimetic crisis”: violence is so widespread in the group that all differences (social, family, individual) have disappeared», R. Girard, Battling to the end. Coversations with Benoît Chantre, translated by M. Baker, Michigan State University Press, East Lansing 2010, p. 220. ↩︎

  4. « “I suffer more than any one of you for I, your king, must suffer for anyone at once” […] In purely rational terms, he cannot be guilty, for “one” and “many” are not interchangeable. But if no culprit is found, the crisis will continue indefinetly», M. R. Anspach, Editor’s Introduction: Imitating Oedipus, in Girard, Oedipus Unbound. Selected writings on Rivalry and Desire, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2004, p. xiv. ↩︎

  5. «The Bible is a compressed text. Everything in it is integral to the literary context imposed, so that every recognizable unit, small or large, including books, takes on new nuances and connotations due to its compression», J. A. Sanders, Canon (OT), in Anchor Bible Dictionary I, Yale University Press, 1992, p. 837. ↩︎

  6. «If interpretation is to be defined as movement towards the comprehension of a meaning, its fondamental rule is, thus, that meaning must be given in advance to the interpreterin the manner of an anticipation, an “in view of which” (a Woraufhin) or a “participation”. The meaning must be pre-given, which is perhaps only a general condition of meaning as such […]. Aut perhaps that excludes the possibility of meaning will be given purely and simplyin all the rigor of the idea of a gift (don: present), which fits neither anticipation nor premonition. It will be necessary to return to this point…», J.L. Nancy, Sharing voices (1982), translated by G. L. Ormiston, in Transforming the Hermeneutic Context: From Nietzsche to Nancy, edited by G. L. Ormiston, A. D. Schrift, State University of New York Press, Albany 1990, pp. 211-60. ↩︎

  7. J.M. Vincent, La lecture symptomale chez Althusser, in Politique et philosophie dans l’œuvre de Louis Althusser, edited by S. Lazarus, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris 1993, p. 67-80. ↩︎

  8. Thus designing what Nancy defined the “interrupted myth”, cfr. J.-L. Nancy, The inoperative community (1986), edited by C. Fynsk, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1991, pp. 34-70. ↩︎

  9. That «God» which «becomes the principal component, or motor, of a mechanism which can be described with a good degree of precision. This mechanism is the order of the workings of the world, of things and humans. One knows, on the basis of a consensus tried and tested by generations, that when human beings do such-and-such, everything works according to order, and that when they do not so such-and-such, disorder sets in, and with it misfortune. That which needs to be done is recorded in the Law. And the Law forseees the consequences of transgressing its prescriptions. In this complex mechanism, which only specialists can undestand adequately, “God”, inevitably, is the metaphor for the Law itself». P. Nemo, Job and the Excess of Evil, translated by Michael Kigel, Duquesne University Press, Pittsburgh 1998, p. 52-53. God that «reflects a type of theology that has little to do with that of the poet, since it searches desperately for security, even if an illusory one, within the incongruity of history. It wants to empirically prove, through a series of miracles […] that the intervention of a just god always makes the human ideal of justice true». A. Negri, The Labor of Job. The Biblical Text as a Parable of Human Labor, translated by M. Mandarini, Durham 2009. p. 39. ↩︎

  10. «The immense cannot be numbered — and when tempted to do so, reason folds back upon itself and goes mad from its attempt […]. This is what Job shows us – and it is truly a difficult obstacle to remove». A. Negri, op. cit., p. 8. ↩︎

  11. «We can separate the wheat from the tares and make use of the reality of what is hidden by the language of the sacred, without any fear of becoming its dupe». R. Girard, Job The Victim of His People, translated by Yvonne Freccero, Stanford University Press, Palo Alto1987, p. 59. ↩︎

  12. W. Benjamin, The Arcades Project, Harvard University Press, Cambridge 1999, p. 456. ↩︎

  13. For insights on metaphore and a «fundamental poetics» marked by mimetic theory, see B. Chantre, Metaphor versus myth. An introduction to Job, the Victim of His People. ↩︎

  14. Cfr. P. Dhorme, Le livre de Job, Gabalda Paris, 1926, p. 17. ↩︎

  15. On dynamics of marginalization related to groups of people experiencing shifting fortunes within society see G. Salvati, From victim to scapegoat: An introduction to the application of René Girard’s work on modern migrations towards Europe↩︎

  16. « “Degree’, from the Latin gradus, means a step in a staircase or on a ladder, a non-horizontal spacing between two entities, and more generally rank, distinction, discrimination, hierarchy, difference. It is also the 'endless jar' between justice and injustice, the same empty space once again that prevents any confusion between right and wrong. Justice is no exercise in exquisite impartiality, no perfect balance, but a fixed modality of imbalance, like everything cultural». R. Girard, A Theatre of Envy: William Shakespeare, ed. Geoffrey Bennington and Peggy Kamuf, Gracewing Publishing, Leominster 2000, p. 161-162, ↩︎

  17. «In the latter case of faire savoir, giving the effect of knowing, the knowing is a pretendo knowing, a false knowing, a simulacrum of knowing, a task of knowing […]. But there must be a technique, there must be a rhetoric, an art of the simulacrum, a savoir-faire to fare savoir where it is not a a matter of knowing, where there is no knowing worthy of the name. One of our questions could then be announced as follows, within a classical seminar discourse, a discorse of knowledge, or even a reflection within political philosophy: What would happen if, for example, political discourse, or even the politcal action welded to it and indissociable from it, ere constituted or even instituted by something fabular, by that sort of narrative simulacrum?»J. Derrida, The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume I (2001-2002) (2008), translated by Geoffrey Bennington, University of Chicago Press, Chicago 2009, p. 35. Making knowledge, building it and giving it body, so as to accomplish what does not necessarily enjoy this status of cast-iron guarantee: «the fact becomes “factual”, that is,“certain”,“sure” — something “in fact”, as opposed to an impression or a simple opinion. At the same time what is accomplished presents itself to us as an “object” in front of us […] thus belonging to the sphere of the objective». Cfr. R. Esposito, Il pensiero istituente, Tre paradigmi di ontologia politica, Einaudi, 2020, p. 58. ↩︎

  18. «This is how history acts, as if it were on the side of the strongest event, that is, of the one that really happened: it could not have remained a non-event, it had to happen». E. Canetti, The Human Province, translated by Joachim Neugroschel, Seabury Press, New York 1978. ↩︎

  19. What binds the community together is something «primarily spiritual rather that physical». Their unity «is the vision shared by all the members […]. A certain order is superimposed on reality and becomes indistinguishable from it». R. Girard, Deceit, Desire, and the Novel: Self and Other in Literary Structure (1961), Yvonne Freccero, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1965, p. 193.«They have called these narratives myths […]. It is not just any scene: it is perhaps the essential scene of all scenes,of all scenography or all staging; it is perhaps the stage upon which we represent everything to ourselves or whereupon we make appear all our representations, if myth, as Levi-Strauss would have it, is primarly defined as that with which or in which time turns into space. With myth, the passing of time takes shape, its ceaseless passing is fixed in an exemplary place of showing and revealing», J-L. Nancy, The inoperative community, op. cit., pp. 44-45. ↩︎

  20. «Absolute community — myth — is not so much the total fusion of individuals, but the will of community: the desire to operate, th rough the power of myth, the communion that myth represents and that it represents as a communion or communication of wills. Fusion ensues: myth represents multiple existences as immanent to its own unique fiction, which gathers them together and gives them their common figure in ils speech and as this speech. This does not mean only that community is a myth, that communitarian communion is a myth. It means Ihat myth and myth’s force and foundation are essential to community and that there can be, therefore, no community outside of myth. Wherever there has been myth, assuming there has been something of the sort and that we can know what this means, there has been. necessarily, community, and vice versa. The interruption of myth is therefore also, necessarily, the interruption of community», J.-L. Nancy, The inoperative community, op. cit., p. 57. ↩︎

  21. A single story, in a radically different sense (as alliance and togetherness/shared, based on a common, albeit remote and irretrievable, origin) unfolds in the Book of Job 31:15. «Did he not create them in the womb like me, the same God forming us in the womb?», a passage which echoes Malachi 2:10. «Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us?» — a shared narration of destinies and misadventures, starting with brotherhood. «Thus the idea of a single story was born. a particular event or situation is related to the One who rules over all the nations». A. Heschel, The Prophets, Harper and Row, New York 1969, p. 170. Cfr. also G. Gutiérrez, On Job. God-Talk and the Suffering of the Innocent, translated by by Matthew J. O’Connell, Orbis Books 2013. ↩︎

  22. In this case it would become vital to cancel his memory, completely eradicate the Job Incident: in the desire to cancel not only the scapegoat as such, but every reminder of it, that might recall his evidently disruptive power. This intense concern is justified by the contamination that he spreads (remember that Job is covered in sores, his loved ones keep their distance, avoid and shun him): The memory of him perishes from the earth, And he has no name among the renowned (18:17). The voice of the victims, even once silenced, cannot be allowed to reverberate and bring its attendant turmoil — it must become a dead letter, to be definitively reabsorbed and swallowed up, to be silenced and not form an example, so as not to become a testimony and a monument. ↩︎

  23. Cfr. i.e. R. Girard, Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World. Research undertaken in collaboration with Jean-Michel Oughourlian and Guy Lefort, translated by Stephen Bann, Michael Metteer, Stanford University PressStanford 1987. «It is no abstract metaphysical reduction, no descent into vulgar polemics or lapse into superstition that makes Satan the true adversary of Jesus. Satan is absolutely identified with the circular mechanisms of violence, with man’s imprisonment in cultural or philosophical systems that maintain his modus vivendi with violence. But Satan is also the skandalon, the living obstacle that trips men up, the mimetic model in so far as it becomes a rival and lies across our path», ivi, p. 162. The fact that hell and Satan are both associated with scandal is a further proof that the latter can be equated with the mimetic process as a whole. Satan is not only the prince and the principle of every worldly order, he is also the principle of all disorder-the very principle of scandal, in other words. He is always placing himself in our path as an obstacle, in the mimetic and the gospel senses of the term», ivi, p. 418. ↩︎

  24. «“Satan” designates a function rather than a person», cfr. E. Wiesel, D. Eisenberg, op. cit., p. 44. ↩︎

  25. «This signal 'transforms' individuals into subjects (it transforms them all) through the very precise operation that we call interpellation or hailing. It can be imagined along the lines of the most commonplace, everyday hailing, by (or not by) the police: 'Hey, you there!'» L. Althusser, Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses, translated by G. M. Goshgarian Verso, London 2014, p. 667. ↩︎

  26. C. Castoriadis, Koinonia, in World in fragments. Writings on Politics, Society, Psychoanalisis, and the Immagination, Stanford University Press, Stanford 199, p. 26. «So what is the relation between violence and what is “unreal,” between violence and unreality that attends to those who become the victims of violence, and where does the notion of the ungrievable life come in? On the level of didcourse, certain lives are not considered lives at all, they cannot be humanized; they fit no dominant frame for the human, and their dehumanization occurs first, at this level. This level then gives rise to a physical violence that in some sense delivers the message of dehumanization which is already at work in the culture […]. Violence against those who are already not quite lives, who are living in a state of suspension between life and death, leaves a mark that is no mark», J. Butler, Beside Oneself: On the Limits of Sexual Autonomy, in Undoing Gender, Routlege, New York 2004, pp. 24-25. ↩︎

  27. L. Althusser, op. cit., p. 114.«The call itself is also figured as a demand to align oneself with the law, a turning around (to face the law, to find a face for the law?), and an entrance into the language of self-ascription— 'Here I am' — through the appropriation of guilt». J. Butler, The Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection, Stanford University Press, 1997, p. 107. ↩︎

  28. «If the law speaks in the name of a self-identical subject (Althusser cites the utterance of the Hebrew God : “I am that I am”), how is it that conscience might deliver or restore a self to oneness with itself, to the postulation of self-identity that becomes the precondition of the linguistic consolidation “Here I am”?», J. Butler, The Psychic Life of Power, op. cit., p. 108. ↩︎

  29. For He is in the distance, for He is (not?) close. I follow here M. Bisoni «taking up the categorical scheme of Jean-Luc Marion», The idol and the distance. «We can guess a correlation between the decline of idolatry and the recovery of distance […]. The creatural solitude of the exhibited is the limit to which the Infinite tangentially approaches, capable of disrupting the Totality of the sacrificial system», cfr. M. Bisoni, Job, mask of sovereignty: sacrifice, transcendence, melancholy, responsibility; J.-L. Marion, The idol and the distance *. Five studies* (1977), translated by T. A. Carlson, Fordham University Press, New York, 2001.Again: “Where is the Father?” May distance lead to proximity and intimacy, may this unfolding space eventually be translated into faithfulness? According to Buber and Rosenzweig, the name in Exodus conveys the meaning of “being-there”. Ehyeh asher ehyeh the first ehyeh of this phrase meant an assurance by God that He will always be with those chosen by Him (i.e. Israel). Hence we should interpret the name as “I shall be-there”, “as the one I shall always be-there as” (Ich werde dasein, als der Ich dasein werde). Cfr. M. Buber, Moses: The Revelation and the Covenant, Harper and Row, New York 1958, p. 48-55. ↩︎

  30. «The government of men requires of those who are directed, in addition to acts of obedience and submission, also “truth acts” that have the distinctive characteristic of requiring not only that the subject tell the truth, but that he tell the truth about himself», Michel Foucault, On the Government of the Living: Lectures at the College de France 1979-1980, Palgrave Macmillian, New York 2014, p. 82.«Foucault is notoriously taciturn on the topic of the psyche, but an account of subjection, it seems, must be traced in the turns of psychic life. More specifically, it must be traced in the peculiar turning of a subject against itself that takes place in acts of self-reproach, conscience, and melancholia that work in tandem with processes of social regulation», J. Butler, The Psychic Life of Power, op. cit., p. 19. See M. G. Stucchi for a more detailed examination of spelling out self-reproach; «It could then be argued that the Freudian psychotherapy insistence on silencing one’s self-reproach is, in fact, a request to make one’s self-reproach talk […]. If this is the case, it can be concluded that helping a patient to get the better of their self-reproach is not, tout court, an action against self-violence. Quite the opposite, in fact, as this can be seen as an unwilling action by the patient that could cause them some amount of sorrow», Is Freudian psychotherapy an example of scapegoat mechanism?, p. xx. ↩︎

  31. Augustine, The Confessions, (I, 12, 19), ed. Maria Boulding, New City Press, 1997. ↩︎

  32. P. Nemo, Job and the Excess of Evil, op. cit., p. 121.Job is refusing «the myth of communion […], man’s total return to himself as a social man», J.-L. Nancy, The inoperative community, op. cit. p. 49; and thus tears apart the “mything community” along with its autobiography — «because myth necessarily contains a pact, namely, the pact of its own recognition», ibid., p. 48. The “interrupted myth” is now as dangerous as the viper’s demon, as Derrida wrote: «Autobiography, the writing of the self as living, the trace of the living for itself […] would be an immunizing movement (a movement of safety, of salvage and salatino of the safe, the holy, the immune, the indemnified, of virginal and intacca nudity), aut an immunizing movement that is always threatened with becoming auto-immunizing, like every autos, every ipseity, every automatic, automobile, autonous, auto-referential movement. Nothing risks becoming more poisonous than an autobiography, poisonous for oneself in the first place…», J. Derrida, The Animal That Therefore I Am, ed. Marie-Louise Mallet, Fordham University Press, New York 2008, pp. 47-8. ↩︎

  33. Cfr. Gutierrez, ibid., p. 174.If natural disasters, natural and historical events are also erroneously and disingenuously attributed to the theory of retribution, the overarching order, «then rebellion is clear and necessary» — as «Job’s protest to the retributive model which he recognizes as pure and simple charlatanry». A. Negri, p. 36.And so he speaks — he speaks to God, he asks for justice, asking, again and again, “Where is the Father”?. «Or, since being-in-common is nowhere, and does not subist in a mythic space that could be revealed to us» he «interrupts myth by giving voice to being-in-common, which has no myth and cannot have one», J.-L. Nancy, The inoperative community, op. cit., p. 64. ↩︎

  34. «A door opens […]. Here it is suggested that words can also be hidden behind a closed door», cfr. E. Wiesel, D. Eisenberg, op. cit., p. 107. ↩︎

  35. R. Girard, Job the Victim of his People, op. cit., p. 26. ↩︎

  36. Ibid., p. 41. ↩︎

  37. Surrounded by that “overnaming” (Überbenennung described by Benjamin as the harnessing and muting of the designated subject, which therefore «would be the ultimate linguistic foundation of all sadness and all silence». Cfr. Walter Benjamin, Über die Sprache überhaupt und über die Sprache des Menschen (1916), in Gesammelte Schriften vol. II-1, Suhrkamp, Frankfurt a.M. 1991. ↩︎

  38. «Fate is the history of the historiographers, accounts of the survivors, who interpret, that is, utilize the works of the dead. The historical distance which makes this historiography, this violence, this subjection possible is proportionate to the time necessary for the will to lose its work completely. Historiography recounts the way the survivors appropriate the works of dead wills to themselves; it rests on the usurpation carried out by the conquerors». E. Lévinas, Totality and Infinity, Eng. trans. by A. Lingis, Duquesne University Press, 1969, p. 228. ↩︎

  39. M. Merleau-Ponty, A Note on Machiavelli, in Signs, Northwestern University Press, 1964, p. 216. ↩︎

  40. R. Girard, Job the Victim of his People, op. cit., p. 25. ↩︎

  41. «The name is called, and I am sure it is my name, but it isn’t. The name is called, and I am sure that a name is being called, my name, but it is in someone’s incomprehensible speech, or worse. or worse, it is someone coughing, or worse, a radiator which for a moment approximates a human voice […]. It is my name, and yet I do not recognize myself in the subject that the name, at this moment, installs», J. Butler, The Psychic Life of Power, op. cit., pp. 95-6; «Such possibility w o u l d require a different kind of turn, one that, enabled by the law, turns away from the law, resisting its lure of identity, an agency that outruns and counters the conditions of its emergence. Such a turn demands a willingness not to be — a critical desubjectivation — in order to expose the law as less powerful than it seems», ivi, p. 130. ↩︎

  42. Cfr. E. Lévinas, Totality and Infinity, p. 231. He is «no longer […] guided by the evidences of history. [but] given over to risk and to the moral creation […], horizons more vast than history, in which history itself is judged», ibid., p. 246. ↩︎

  43. «Durkheim has seen quite well, religion is at the outset 'identical' to society; religion does not accompany, does not explain, does not justify the organization of society, but is the organization […]. It organizes, polarizes and promotes what is relevant, it is religion that creates the hierarchy, in an interpretation of the term that gets its initial meaning here». Cfr. C. Castoriadis, Institution of Society and Religion, Thesis Eleven, 1993, 35, pp. 1-17. ↩︎

  44. V. Jankélévitch, Le Je-ne-sais-quoi et le presque-rien, Tome II, La méconnaisance — Le Malentendu, Éditions du Seuil, 1980, p. 228. «If it were possible to decipher it [the law] between the lines of a book, if it were a register that could be consulted, then it would have the solidity of external things: it would be possible to follow or disobey it. Where then would its power reside, by what force or prestige would it command respect? In fact, the presence of the law is its concealment. sovereignly, the law haunts cities, institutions, conduct and gestures: whatever one does, however great the disorder and carelessness, it has already applied its might». M. Foucault, The Thought from Outside, Zone Books, 1987, p. 33. ↩︎

  45. Esposito, Il pensiero istituente, p. 109. ↩︎

  46. M. Foucault, Power/Knowledge, ed. Colin Gordon, Pantheon Books, 1980, p. 148. ↩︎

  47. «When a structure loses its centre, substitutions and permutations accelerate, but its disintegration has hardly begun». R. Girard, A Theatre of Envy: William Shakespeare, p. 162. ↩︎

  48. E. Bloch, Atheism in Christianity, Eng. trans. J.T. Swann, Verso, 2009 p. 133. ↩︎

  49. Thus his word cannot speak for a new community, new because it is united under new auspices (and against renewed enemies): «the very form of coalition […] cannot be figured in advance […]. The insistence in advance on coalitional “unity” as a goal assumes that solidarity, whatever its price, is a prerequisite for political action. But what sort of politics demands that kind of advance purchase on unity? Perhaps a coalition needs to acknowledge its contradictions and take action with those contradictions intact. Perhaps also part of what dialogic understanding entails is the acceptance of divergence, breakage, splinter, and fragmentation as part of the often tortuous process of democratization […]. The assumption of its essential incompleteness permits that category to serve as a permanently available site of contested meanings». J. Butler, Gender Trouble. Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, Routledge, 1999 p. 20-21. ↩︎

  50. Cfr. E. Lévinas, Totality and Infinity, p. 306. ↩︎

  51. E. Lévinas, A Religion for Adults, in Difficult Freedom: Essays on Judaism. Eng. trans. Seán Hand, The John Hopkins University Press, 1990, p. 14. ↩︎

  52. J. Derrida, The Gift of Death, University of Chicago Press, 1996, p. 67. A discourse that is therefore configured as disorder and illegality, like «backward injustice, one which is not on this side of but rather beyond justice, one that is not less than just, but more than just!». Jankélévitch, Forgiveness, Eng. trans. Andrew Kelley, University of Chicago Press, 2005, p. 91. ↩︎

  53. «I would put it this way: to be called unreal and to have that call, as it were, institutionalized as a form of differential treatment, is to become the other against whom (or against which) the human is made. It is the inhuman, the beyond the human, the less than human, the border that secures the human in its ostensible reality. To be called a copy, to be called unreal, is one way in which one can be oppressed, but consider that it is more fundamental than that. To be oppressed means that you already exist as a subject of some kind, you are there as the visible and oppressed other for the master subject, as a possible or potential subject, but to be unreal is something else again. To be oppressed you must first become intelligible. To find that you are fundamentally unintelligible (indeed, that the laws of culture and of language find you to be an impossibility) is to find that you have not yet achieved access to the human, to find yourself speaking only and always as if you were human, but with the sense that you are not, to find that your language is hollow, that no recognition is forthcoming because the norms by which recognition takes place are not in your favor». J. Butler, Beside Oneself: On the Limits of Sexual Autonomy, op. cit. p. 30. ↩︎

  54. Girard, Job the op. cit., f his People, p. 46. ↩︎

  55. J. Butler, The Psychic Life of Power, p. 118. ↩︎

  56. This would perhaps allow us to rethink the community itself, starting from a different category, not that of unity — and the sacrificial nature of the unanimity that unity requires in order to exist. «The definitional incompleteness of the category might then serve as a normative ideal relieved of coercive force. Certain forms of acknowledged fragmentation […], an antifoundationalist approach to coalitional politics assumes neither that “identity” is a premise nor that the shape or meaning of a coalitional assemblage can be known prior to its achievement» J. Butler, Gender Trouble. Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, Routledge, New York 1999, p. 21. ↩︎

  57. «To intervene in the name of transformation means precisely to disrupt what has become settled knowledge and knowable reality, and to use, as it were, one’s unreality to make an otherwise impossible or illegible claim. I think that when the unreal lays claim to reality, or enters into its domain, something other than a simple assimilation into prevailing norms can and does take place. The norms themselves can become rattled, display their instability, and become open to resignification», J. Butler, Beside Oneself: On the Limits of Sexual Autonomy, op. cit., pp. 27-8. ↩︎

  58. «Not a grand-other who will assume the origin of the Discourse-of-the-other in general, aut the announcement that the other is the other (never “in general”, and always in the singular), and that it is not speech which communicates itself from this alterity and in this alterity, each singular and finite time», J.-L. Nancy, Sharing voices, op. cit., p. 245. ↩︎