Items Concerning LaCapra’s Works #2


The following entry from my philosophical journal continues with what the entry from my last post started:  presentation of some separate, though still interrelated, musings on some of Dominick LaCapra’s works.


Sunday, March 23, 2008–Easter

(1)  At various places in History and Memory After Auschwitz, LaCapra writes of “secularization” as “a process of displacement involving at times a return of the repressed,” with what gets repressed–and, therefore, compulsively re-enacted time after time–being “religious” in nature.  Most especially, he sees such repression as is at play in, for example, the Nazi projection of and upon “the Jew” in terms of the return of religious sacrifice and scape-goating, with the victimization at play in the religious yoking of those two, the sacrifice and the scapegoat.

Yet might one not think secularization not as the repression of religion but rather as its liberation–releasing it into its truth, precisely by stripping religious notions such as “sacrifice” from their idolatrous formations?

Bonheoffer, Vattimo, and Girard?

Religion as the repression of trauma (see, e.g., Freud’s story of the primal horde and the murder of the father) and secularization as the sublimation of that trauma?  The “sacrifice” of the Christian mass read, a la Girard, as itself a milestone on the road of such sublimation–in that the Eucharist transforms the exclusion of scape-goating to the inclusion of the sharing of the body and blood of Christ as transformed (“trans-substantiated”) into bread and wine?


(2)  At more than one place (e.g., p. 69, pp. 204-205) in History and Memory After Auschwitz LaCapra argues that “not everyone deserves” (p. 69) to be mourned, “not everyone is deserving” (p. 204) of the “gift”of mourning–or, accordingly, even “a proper burial” (!).


The wisdom of AA, for one example, is that to mourn or grieve something [or someone] does not entail one is not glad to be rid of what [or even who] one mourns or grieves.  Even when an addict wants, embraces, and luxuriates in letting “the habit” go, there can be a grief and mourning to go through for that very “habit,” and for oneself as addict.

LaCapra might be able to learn something here from AA.

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