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The Babylon ComplexTheopolitical Fantasies of War, Sex, and Sovereignty$
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Erin Runions

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780823257331

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823257331.001.0001

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Babelian Scripture

Babelian Scripture

A Queerly Sublime Ethics of Reading

(p.213) Six Babelian Scripture
The Babylon Complex

Erin Runions

Fordham University Press

This chapter considers how biblical texts can be approached differently. Taking its cues from the Babel story, and the work of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, it outlines a detranscendentalizing reading practice that values liminality and impossibility, and that provokes the politically productive feeling of the sublime instead of the bellicose feeling of terror. It rereads the sexualized evil of the Whore of Babylon and the antichrist via metonym and metalepsis rather than allegory. The antichrist and the Whore of Babylon are read as perverse destabilizing figures that queerly share mythic lineages with what is taken as “truth.” Their mythological derivations (Canaanite and Roman) connect them to the Christ figure. Babylon, the antichrist, and the Whore are thus included and excluded in the political and religious symbolic order. In theoretical terms, the liminal alterity of these figures might be read as the sublime—not in the traditional way as reason’s confrontation with the inestimable, dangerous, sublime object but as that scary incomprehensibility of meaning in the face of social difference. In this sense, a liminal, sublime, alterity signifies a queer Babelian place of the impossibility of full communication.

Keywords:   antichrist, Babel, detranscendentalizing, metonym, metalepsis, mythology, queer, Spivak, sublime, Whore of Babylon

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