God Is Dead and Jesus Christ Killed Him

After Christ’s apocalyptic entrance into the arena of history, history becomes the dramatic battleground of desire centred around the scandal of the mystery of the Cross. Christ’s appearance upon the world-stage inaugurates a counter-desire which is opposed to the violently tangled-tongues of humanity’s insatiable lust for power and violence. Yes—upon the Cross—God dies. But this is not the death of a speculative Good Friday in which the transcendence of God dialectically vanishes in Spirit’s becoming within history. Nevertheless, here a certain “God is dead,” as Nietzsche famously says in aphorism 125 and as Balthasar provocatively remarks, quoting Ernst Bloch, “Jesus Christ killed him.”[1] This is the death of a God of mere metaphysical abstraction. It is also the death of the feigned neutrality of a generic homo religiosus.

With Balthasar one must hold that, after Christ, there is no “god” of transcendental theology towards which all humans aspire.[2] And with Erik Peterson it must be seen that Christ’s revelation abolishes all religious neutrality and that the message of Christianity only exists, concretely, amongst wolves in sheep’s clothing.[3] With Przywara it must likewise be held that philosophy only exists within the tragic refusal of the Fall or within the graced redemption of the Cross.[4]

Christ is the concrete analogia entis and the transcendence of the Father can only be reached via Christ’s analogical mediation and modelhood, through the power of the Holy Spirit. Here philosophy’s formal object of creaturely being, freedom and, desire exists only within the super-formed theological horizon of history read from within the theologoumena of original sin and redemption, the crescendo of which is cruciform love against which the formal object of philosophy is measured.

This style of metaphysics is, what I term, an “analogical metaphysics of incarnate mimetic desire.” It is the story of either our humble acceptance of creaturely being in imitation of Christ’s reception of humanity and creaturehood or the seductive acceptance of the mesmerizing dance of counterfeits that parody Christ’s apotheosis of human desire.[5] This feigned apotheosis wells forth from the subterranean depths of humanity’s metaphysical desire for the supernatural, now in diverted, incurvated, and parodic form.

Here finite desire seeks to become infinite in denial of Christ’s infinitely humble and kenotic movement into finitude. Nietzsche’s “death of God” and transvaluation is thus not a Nietzschean invention but is the coming to completion of history’s inner law of desire’s “intensification” (Balthasar) and “escalation to extremes” (Girard) in the drama of “Dionysus versus the Crucified” or “Christ versus the anti-Christ.” There we come upon and encounter the furthest reaches and extremes of creaturely freedom and desire wherein a yes or no to Triune love is uttered.

Transvaluation is the Christian story of desire. This is the story of the madness of desire. The story of desire symbolized upon two mountains: Dionysus’s enticement of Pentheus to his ferocious death upon Mount Cithaeron versus Christ’s lonely, idiotic sweating of blood upon the Mount of Olives—while his apostles were overcome by the somnolence of human weakness, despite the Eucharistic wine. It is a story of two forms of drunkenness: the fiery descent of the Spirit and desire’s Pentecostal inebriation versus the ritualizing of desire’s need for orgiastic drunkenness (kōmos). A story of two manners of feasting: humanity’s radical violence, indeed, homophagic shredding of the victim (sparagmos) versus the communal feast of the resurrection of the rent, torn body of the slain yet victorious Lamb (the Eucharist).

Christian transvaluation is the story of the redemption of created desire from its deformity—the twisting of its desire for the supernatural—by the lie that we are able to know and be like God (Gen 3:5). The tale of Christian transvaluation knows that the lie of self-coronation, of self-apotheosis takes place and is tested within the flesh and blood horizon of the violent annuals of history’s concrete drama of desire. This history is a competition of two forms of madness incarnated in mediators of desire, mediators of folly and madness. 

The question becomes: which madness is chosen, with which madness is one overcome and which God is worshipped? After the “death of God” there is only the working out of the question: “God or a clown,” as Nietzsche says? But within the concreteness of transvaluation the or is ever an as—God-as-clown. Yes! But to which God-clown do we show obeisance? To which God-clown do we conform our desire to? To the doubling buffoonery of Nietzsche/Zarathustra’s “ass festival” that presages the Übermensch or to Christ-as-clown, stunningly depicted in Georges Rouault’s art? (Should this art be interpreted as kind of visual refutation of Nietzsche’s portrait of his destiny in Ecce Homo?).

Philosophy post Christum natum is not a “language game” but an “imitation game” of either anti-Christian parody or true imitatio Christi. This game no—better—this drama is apocalyptic through and through. Vox clamantis in deserto. Here discernment of spirits is radically needed. More than one voice speaks within history’s desertscape of desirous thought. More than one spirit leads into the desert. For the spirits within the desert are legion. And within the desert one encounters the very limits of created-analogical freedom and desire. In this desert-space the human ability to refuse or receive the creative and redemptive love of the Triune God is tested. I will return to this desert-place of the apocalypse of desire.       

As I have suggested elsewhere today, more than ever before, Christian thought must contend with doubles, doppelgangers, counterfeits, imposters. As can be gleaned my concern here is for one hieratic counterfeiting voice in particular: Friedrich Nietzsche. But it is hubris to believe that one lone Christian thinker can act in uncovering doubles. Especially one as formidable, sly, and elusive as Nietzsche. To enter the labyrinthine nature of Nietzsche’s emulous thought one needs a guide and within this inferno two Virgils are better than one. This is the humble reason I seek to deploy and think alongside two of the most successful unmaskers of counterfeits in recent Catholic thought: René Girard and William Desmond.

Despite many surface dissimilarities there is a remarkable similarity or “elective affinity” (Goethe) between Girard and Desmond in their debunking of Nietzschean fables as especially held by the pious Nietzscheans of a postmodern and, often, French pedigree. In a word, both Girard and Desmond belong to the same spiritual family of great Christian discerners of spirits. With their aid we will enter the underground of Nietzsche’s rivalrous thought only to re-emerge into the apocalyptic desertscape face-to-face with created desire’s ultimate and final temptation. Gazing upon the figure of antichrist as seen in Nietzsche and symbolized in Dostoevsky’s haunting tale of the Grand Inquisitor.

Unmasking the Underground of Nietzsche’s Desire 

For Girard, Nietzsche is clearly his most important philosophical interlocutor. While for Desmond that candidacy is undoubtedly won by Hegel. Girard’s runner-up would be Hegel and Desmond’s would be—I am tempted to say—Nietzsche. And for both the dark horse of central interlocutors, rivalling Hegel/Nietzsche, is certainly, Heidegger. Hence, however you want to parse and rank for both Desmond and Girard it is noteworthy that they share resistance to the same triumvirate of Hegel/Nietzsche/Heidegger from a robustly Christian register. And this even though Desmond is an overt metaphysician artfully skilled at phenomenological description and Girard is a polymath mingling anthropology, ethnology, literary theory, and aspects of philosophy. Despite the differences in method, it is significant that Girard and Desmond both end by advocating a manner of Neo-Augustinianism despite their different inflections.

In returning to Nietzsche both thinkers have written substantial and profound essays on Nietzsche. For Girard there are three major essays of significant note: “Strategies of Madness—Nietzsche, Wagner, and Dostoevsky,”  “The Founding Murder in the Philosophy of Nietzsche,” and “Nietzsche versus the Crucified.” Along with the important treatment of Nietzsche at the conclusions of I See Satan Fall Like Lightening.

While, for Desmond, there are two extensive essays, “Eros Frenzied and the Redemption of Art: Nietzsche and the Dionysian Origin,” and "Ceasar With the Soul of Christ: Nietzsche’s Highest Impossibility.” Further, references to Nietzsche are spread throughout their writings and when he is not mentioned it is rare not to feel Nietzsche’s ghost hovering between the lines and over the white margins. For Girard and Desmond confrontation with Nietzsche is simply unavoidable.

Yet, Girard and Desmond are at the furthest remove from the Nietzschean sycophants that dapple and populate the philosophical academy. But this does not mean that they are not deep listeners of Nietzsche. Nevertheless, their ears remain unenchanted by Nietzsche’s intoxicating spell as opposed to the utter enchantment of Bataille, Foucault, and Deleuze, for example. Like Heraclitus, Nietzsche is a Riddler that, in his own words, is “imitating an actor.” He is, at times, a buffo—yes. But he is also and ever a “first-rate actor,” a “histrio,” a “mimomaniac.” These are all designations that Nietzsche gives to Wagner in The Case of Wagner and Nietzsche contra Wagner. If the later Nietzsche tells us that in his early writings on Schopenhauer and Wagner that he was really speaking of himself.

Why should not this hermeneutic also be applied to Nietzsche’s last writings on Wagner in 1888?[6] Is he not also there speaking partly of himself? If this is the case as, I think it is, then when Nietzsche accuses Wagner of being an “old magician,” comparing his work to that of a hypnotist committing the Platonic sin of “theatrocracy” does this not also apply to Nietzsche’s work?[7] Even if Nietzsche’s spectacle is for “for All and None” (the subtitle of Zarathustra) and panders less to the masses. Lubac is right that there is something Wagnerian about Nietzsche even and especially in his masterpiece: Thus Spoke Zarathustra.[8]  

Girard and Desmond know this all-too-well about Nietzsche. He, like Wagner, is a seducer. And his work, like Wagner’s, concerns nothing less than a form of redemption. To the point where our devoted Nietzscheans treat aphorism 125 as a kind of “avant-garde Eucharist,” as Girard notes, and Desmond would certainly not demur.[9] And this is no doubt why our two Virgils are all-too-willing to parley and think through this masking magician, to think this performance of performance, this play within a play. In this parley one senses a simultaneous fascination, love, pity and even hatred, if not for Nietzsche himself, then at least for his many curses upon Christianity. As Desmond rightly notes, it is hard to remain indifferent to Nietzsche.[10] There is no indifference in Girard’s and Desmond’s respective engagements with Nietzsche, but a passion which matches Nietzsche’s own.

Indeed, Girard and Desmond are rare examples of a radical breath of fresh air in their often-witty polemics against pious Nietzscheans and a doctrinaire postmodern thinking of unmitigated difference. Both are against-the-grain thinkers that show a radical independence from trendy bandwagons that many a continental enjoys to ride. One example of this against-the-grain mindfulness is manifest in their strong disavowal of Heidegger’s deceitfully glib dismissal of Nietzsche’s antithesis, “Dionysus versus the Crucified,” as an unfortunate and inconsequential aspect of Nietzsche’s thought. For Heidegger is all-too-keen to silence Christianity in his meta-myth of Being’s advent. Both know that Heidegger is playing a deadly game of silence in relation to Christianity which Nietzsche, in his profound honesty, would not dare to play. Nietzsche is no longer Nietzsche if Christianity is silenced. Heidegger, like Nietzsche, is seeking to rebirth scared violence but in a submerged form and Girard and Desmond are far from fooled.

In “Eros Frenzied and the Redemption of Art” Desmond’s treats Nietzsche as an equivocal thinker in search of a dark metaphysical origin.[11] Desmond demurs at those who seek to elaborate a caesura between the Nietzsche of The Birth of Tragedy and the later Nietzsche. Nietzsche, though an equivocal thinker, is always a metaphysician in search of the dark Dionysian origin, ever under in the shadow of Schopenhauer and ever in competition with Plato, the artist-philosopher par excellence. Nietzsche worships—like all the heirs of Hegel—an erotic god in artistic trappings. A god of self-origination which is doubled in Nietzsche’s own self-glorification and deification.

Overall, in this essay, Desmond does not treat Nietzsche stance towards Christianity but is more concerned with unmasking an erotic genealogy of philosophical modernity’s counterfeit gods where Nietzsche’s god is one among many. In the background is the analogical/metaxological God of agapeic creation. This God of love comes into full relief in its Christological dimensions in “Caesar with the Soul of Christ” where Nietzsche’s relation to Christ and Christianity is fundamentally treated. However, what is important to note here is that Desmond isolates the extreme erotic nature of Nietzsche’s thought that is ever in search of self-creation and erotic deification. 

In Girard’s “Strategies of Madness,” like with Desmond’s “Eros Frenzied,” Nietzsche’s relation to Christianity is latent.[12] Here Girard treats Nietzsche’s obsessional mimetic rivalry with Wagner. Centred in his triangular relation with Wagner and Cosima. In the later Nietzsche this triangular relation becomes obsessional to the point of a mythological dream of a life a trois. In this Nietzschean dreamscape, Cosima is Ariadne (she is the only figure whose role remains stable), Wagner/Theseus, and Nietzsche/Dionysus. Here Nietzsche supplants Wagner’s role as the original Dionysus in relation to Hans von Bülow, Cosima’s first husband or Theseus. In passing, Girard’s is always slaying more than one dragon and, in this essay, he completely deconstructs Freud’s famous oedipal reading of Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov.[13] But what is significant in this essay is that Girard isolates, like Desmond did with the erotic, the radically mimetic, rivalrous, and resentful nature of Nietzsche’s thought.    

The logic of mimetic rivalry can only ever intensify if not converted to the peace of Christ. This is what “The Founding Murder in the Philosophy of Nietzsche,” and “Nietzsche versus the Crucified” largely show. In these two essays Girard sees Nietzsche as a negative apologist for Christianity. This is because Nietzsche sees the marked difference between Judeo-Christian religion and all other religions as opposed to nineteenth century positivist anthropology. In a word, Nietzsche stumbles upon the radicality of the Cross and something of its revelation of the innocence of victims. If in aphorism 125 Nietzsche attempts to proclaim the triumph of eternal recurrence over Christianity, he is likewise also speaking of the founding murder which he is trying to reinstate in the invention of new “sacred games.” But on a Giradian reading, the force of the founding murder only works if it remains hidden as the generative force of sacred violence, pagan religion, and culture. And this is precisely what the Cross has anthropologically revealed.

What must be understood on the Girardian model is that Nietzsche’s perspective is bound by the victory of the Cross, bound by the force and effectiveness of Christian revelation. Here “History from now on treads on the bottomless spaces of Christian knowledge,” as Girard profoundly and prophetically asserts.[14] Thus, like von Balthasar’s demonography in vol. IV of Theo-Drama the battle can only intensify because the satanic moves against the Christian victory already assured by the Lamb, making the battle all the fiercer. The inner law of history, as Przywara understood, consists in the victory of Christ over the antichrist. And for Girard, Nietzsche announces the denouement of Christian history. It is Girard’s great merit to have shown that this denouement is bound to a mimetic process: true imitation versus anti-Christian aping. 

Re-Emerging Into the Desert of the Apocalypse of Desire

Having entered the subterranean abyss of Nietzsche’s desirous thought with our two Virgils it is time to return to the desert space of created desire for the supernatural as this works itself out in the concrete drama of human response to Triune Love. It was seen that for Desmond the erotic self-creative endeavour of Nietzsche’s thinking is key. While for Girard the mimetic nature of Nietzsche’s thought is key. It is important to note that Desmond also isolates the doubling mimesis in Nietzsche and that Girard’s reading does not exclude the erotic nature of superbia in Nietzsche.

In other words, Girard’s and Desmond’s respective readings of Nietzsche are complementary and mutually enforcing. It is likewise no accident that for both the tale of the Grand Inquisitor is indispensable for their thinking of doubles. In the following I will improvise on these themes seeking to take us to the furthest potentiality of created freedom and desire—refusal of redemption. Once more into the desert-space of apocalyptic desire: “Christ versus the anti-Christ.”        

Desmond’s metaxolgical reading of Nietzsche does not implicate a globally Christian theory of history that is explicitly calibrated in a Christocentric fashion as does Girard. However, this does not prevent Desmond from seeing that one of the essential tasks of Christian thought is to uncover and counter counterfeits. For Desmond, Nietzsche’s grand counterfeiting is on greatest display in a phrase from the posthumously published, The Will to Power, namely, “The Roman Caesar with the Soul of Christ.” Such as statement, for Desmond, can only implicate the question of antichrist and here he and Girard stand within the same Christian apocalyptic space. This is the space of parodia sacra in which nothing less than the counterfeiting of the God-man by the antichristic Man-god is implicated. These are the stakes of Nietzsche’s highest impossibility of the Caesar-Christ.

To think this claim of the Caesar-Christ we must enter the desert. But which desert and led by which spirit? Desmond is correct to see that this is desert-wilderness of the three metamorphoses of the spirit. Hence in the Caesar-Christ Nietzsche is seeking to combine the more vulgar will-to-power of the dominating Lion, with the higher spiritualized commanding will-to-power of the Child. In Desmond’s terms this is the failed attempt to unite erotic sovereignty with agapeic service. However, this desert is but a parody of the desert-wilderness where Christ is tempted by Satan.

For Desmond, and here Girard would most certainly agree, Nietzsche’s great desire and temptation is Christ’s last temptation if we are to prefer Luke’s order over Matthew’s. This is the temptation to spiritual pride—superbia—and commanding the powers, of tempting God. Here Desmond and Girard concur that Nietzsche’s obsession is his emulous desire to be spiritually greater than Christ, to make his stamp on millennia.[15] To rewrite, to revalue the way we chronologize history. History is to begin again after the completion of his work, The Antichrist!

But here, as always, there is ambivalence with regards to Nietzsche. Of which Nietzsche are we here speaking? Answer: we are speaking of the Nietzsche that Henri de Lubac rightly emphasizes, namely, the visionary.[16] The one who since the completion of The Gay Science is “treading on virgin ground,” the Nietzsche of the mystical experience of Sils Maria, the rock of Surlej, and of the famous Rapallo vision where: “One became two!—And Zarathustra passed by beside me.”[17] Nietzsche’s destiny has been revealed, his hour had come and thus he comes to write the “fifth gospel”—Thus Spoke Zarathustra—followed by the latter works in which he assumes the personage of the philosopher-antichrist.

As Girard understood, Nietzsche is trying to play the role of worshipper and worshipped at the same time. This double role cannot last for long. It ends in a total collapse, a night of undifferentiation, nocturnal madness. Here he who was Dionysus is now the Crucified. Christ is Dionysus, Dionysus is Christ, the opposition breaks down into indistinction. From this indistinction of the last letters it is a small step to the clinical notes of the asylum in Jena where the patient is smeared in his own excrement, eating excrement, washed down with a boot of urine.[18] Words must truly break off in respect . . .

The tragic reality, as Giuseppe Fornari has vividly illustrated, is that a demonical spectre haunted Nietzsche for much of his life. In a text from 1868-9 Nietzsche writes: “What I fear is not the horrifying figure behind my chair, but its voice; and not the words, but the terribly inarticulate and inhuman tone of this figure. If only it spoke as men speak.”[19] Was this “inhuman tone” echoed in Nietzsche’s “howling” at his sisters house in the last days of his madness, a howling that would cause visitors spines to shiver? As Fornari notes, what is most horrifying is that he describes this apparition as a “frequent visitor.” Further in 1882, while Nietzsche was writing The Gay Science, he tells us “I know the devil and the perspective from which He looks towards God.”[20]

This perspective can be nothing less than the perspective of antichrist or at the minimum its approximation. Which is to say the touching upon of the furthest reaches of created freedom and desire culminating in the sin against the Holy Spirit—the very refusal of redemption. Fornari provocatively asks the question was Nietzsche forgiven by Christ. And he rightly answers the question that nobody knows. For in order to be forgiven one must accept forgiveness. This is the question of how far the persona of antichrist become assimilated to Nietzsche’s person, to what extent was he possessed by his “inhuman” and “frequent visitor”? As Girard sees what is great in Nietzsche is not that he got anything right but that he paid so dearly for being wrong.[21] De Lubac holds a similar view: “Nietzsche found the innocence that he had looked for so long and hard—but unconsciously. The warning that he had addressed to us a while ago now assumes all its tragic contours. The mystic ‘does not need anybody to refute him.’ He takes care of this task himself.”[22] Nietzsche, like Raskolnikov, fails in becoming the Overman, the antichrist. He becomes a consumed victim of the demonic, a consumed victim of his own freedom and mimetic desire. 

But perhaps it is possible that Nietzsche always knew that he was not actually antichrist despite his numerous declarations. Perhaps he understood he was merely a forerunner and that the antichrist persona was his weakest. Is not his true persona “Zarathustra the godless,” a voice crying out in the desert of the one who is to come? Is not Zarathustra his real double, his task and destiny as in the Rapallo vision? Was he never meant to be a full parody of Christ but rather of John the Baptist? At the conclusion to the Second Essay of The Genealogy of Morals he makes a chilling prophecy:

This man of the future, who will redeem us not only from the hitherto reigning ideal but also from that which was bound to grow out of it, the great nausea, the will to nothingness, nihilism; this bell-stroke of noon and the great decision that liberates the will again and restores its goal to the earth and his hope to man; this Antichrist and antinihilist; victor over God and nothingness—he must come one day.—[23]

He ends with saying “enough,” that he must remain silent so as to not usurp the place of Zarathustra. Nietzsche takes us into the desert only to announces what is to come. He is the penultimate stage, the beginning of the denouement of the history of transvaluation, of the intensifying no to the madness and drama of Christian desire.

How far can human freedom and desire go in refusing redemption, refusing the Spirit of Truth? Are all human attempts at self-apotheosis to end like Raskolnikov and Nietzsche? Or is there a further potentiality of created freedom and of evil that has yet to be reached? In both Dostoevsky’s tale of the Grand Inquisitor and Soloviev’s Short Story of the Antichrist the furthest reaches of the human potential to say no to the Holy Spirit are depicted. Can these literary symbolizations of evil truly occur in the human heart and the historical drama of Christian transvaluation? Can created freedom and desire become fully antichristic?

Turning to Dostoevsky, Girard is right that the underground metaphysics begun in Notes from the Underground, passing over to Demons and concluding with Brothers Karamazov must objectively end in a demonography.[24] This demonography is fully unveiled in the tale of the Grand Inquisitor. This tale is nothing less than an eschatological reading of the whole of history read from within the desertscape of the three temptations. And if we are to believe Dostoevsky the logic contained in these three temptations is truly Luciferian and beyond human capabilities.

Here the “dread spirit” is seen for what he is: the father of lies, the prince of the world, and the principle of doubling. As Girard notes, everything the Inquisitor says is true, but in inverted form and with false conclusions. Further, Desmond sees the Inquisitor as more honest than Nietzsche’s highest impossibility because Caesar exists without Christ’s soul. But as Dostoevsky shows us this does not prevent him from working in Christ’s name. There is more than one way to be Christ-like, more than one way of bearing and simulating light.

The Inquisitor knows himself to be a false imitator. Like Luca Signorelli depiction of the antichrist in Orvieto and like the Solovyov’s Last Emperor, the Inquisitor has been whispered to by the “dread spirit.” This is not an “inhuman tone” or “howl.” This whisper is the whisper of angelic light-bearing-consciousness-of-lies.  The Inquisitor was begotten. Begotten in a manner analogous to the words spoken by Lucifer to the Last Emperor: “Receive my spirit. Once upon a time my spirit gave birth to you in beauty, now it gives birth to you in power.”[25] The Inquisitor is the stillborn son of the “dread spirit.” He knowingly worships/imitates the Other, the “dread spirit.” He is a conscious double of the prince of doubles—all evil is Sabellian as Balthasar understood.[26]

Nietzsche fails in his attempt to be antichrist as has been seen, perhaps he did not even fail, perhaps he was only meant to announce what is to come even unto madness. While Dostoevsky’s Inquisitor symbolizes the fallen elect that in full knowledge of good and evil sin against the Holy Spirit. Hence the kiss of Christ will ever burn his heart, but he still holds to his “idea” given by the lying logic of the “dread spirit” in the three temptations in the desert. His refusal is absolute. He and Satan are now one against Christ.

Nietzsche and Dostoevsky incarnate and show that Christian history is an “imitation game,” a drama of the mediation of desire and of the limits of created freedom: “Christ versus the antichrist.” If Nietzsche announces the beginning of the denouement of Christian history, does Dostoevsky speaks of its final consummation? History is the apocalypse of desire in its intensification and escalation.

Desirous thought only exists in the desert, in the place of temptation, within the concreteness of eschatological possibility. “What we will be has yet to be revealed” (1 John 3:2). This revelation, this apocalypse occurs through our choice of mediators to which we conform our desire. In this time of desirous decision, we work out our salvation ever amongst spirits which are legion, ever needing to discern the spirit by which we are being led into the desert. With the highest and most extreme possibility consisting in choice between two forms of prayer, two forms of adoration, two forms of madness in response to Triune love revealed upon the Cross. What desirous words are uttered, pronounced: “Come Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20) or the words of the Inquisitor “Go and do not come again . . . do not come at all . . . never, never!”? The last words of this story of counterfeits of Christ and Christian transvaluation must go to Nietzsche: “Have I been understood?—Dionysus versus the Crucified.”—[27]

EDITORIAL NOTE: This reflection is related to the very early stage of Philip Gonzales’s recent grant from Widening Horizons in Philosophical Theology run out of the University of St. Andrews and funded by Templeton Religion Trust. The title of my grant project is: “Analogical Metaphysics and Incarnate Mimetic Desire.” Professor Gonzales sends his special thanks to the grant project leaders, Judith Wolfe and King-Ho Leung, and to Templeton for the time freed over the last semester in order to embark on some initial thoughts.

[1] Hans Urs von Balthasar, Theo-Drama: Theological Dramatic Theory, vol. 4 (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1994), 64. 

[2] See Erik Peterson, “Witness to the Truth,” in Theological Tractates (Stanford, CA: SUP, 2011), esp. 161-172.

[3] Balthasar, Theo-Drama vol. 4, 64.

[4] See Erich Przywara, “Philosophy as a Problem,” in Analogia Entis: Original Structure and Universal Rhythm (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2014), 402-3.  

[5] In a fuller explication I would explain how our mimesis of Christ does not just imitate his reception of his humanity and creaturehood but is also a mimesis of the eternal reception of his begotteness from the Father. This will come into play in my mimetic interpretation of Christ as the concrete analogia entis.

[6] Nietzsche contra Wagner his “last book” is made-up of a selections of Nietzsche’s older writings on Wagner going back to 1877. It was meant to show that the invective and critique of Wagner in, The Case of Wagner, did not come from out of the blue.

[7] See The Case of Wagner, section 3, and the Postscript, trans. Walter Kaufmann.

[8]See Henri de Lubac, “Nietzsche as Mystic,” in The Drama of Atheist Humanism (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1995), 503.

[9] See René Girard,  “Nietzsche versus the Crucified,” in The Girard Reader, ed. James G. Williams (New York: Crossroads, 1996), 258.

[10] See William Desmond, “Caesar with the Soul of Christ: Nietzsche’s Highest Impossibility,” in Is There a Sabbath for Thought?: Between Religion and Philosophy (New York: Fordham University Press, 2006), 200.

[11] See William Desmond, “Eros Frenzied and the Redemption of Art: Nietzsche and the Dionysian Origin,” in Art, Origins, Otherness: Between Philosophy and Art (New York: State University of New York Press, 2003), 165-208.

[12] See Girard, “Strategies of Madness—Nietzsche, Wagner, and Dostoevsky,” in To Double business bound: Essays on Literature, Mimesis, and Anthropology (Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press, 1978), 61-83.

[13] See Sigmund Freud, “Dostoevsky and Parricide,” in Vol. XXI of The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, 175-196.

[14] See Girard, “The Founding Murder in the Philosophy of Nietzsche,” in Violence and Truth, ed. Paul Dumouchel (London: Athlone, 1987), 246.

[15] Lubac is in complete agreement here as well, see “Nietzsche as Mystic,” 497.

[16] Ibid., esp. 469-477.

[17] Ibid., 469. These are the words of Lou Andreas-Salomé in her account of how Nietzsche saw himself upon the completion of, The Gay Science.

[18] See Giuseppe Fornari, A God Torn to Pieces: The Nietzsche Case (East Lansing, MI: MSU, 2013), 16-18.

[19] Ibid., 87.

[20] Ibid., 86.

[21] Girard, “Strategies of Madness,” 76.

[22] Lubac, “Nietzsche as Mystic,” 509.

[23] See section 24 and 25 of “Second Essay,” in  The Genealogy of Morals, Kauffman translation.

[24] See Girard, Resurrections from the Underground: Feodor Dostoevsky (East Lansing, MI: MSU, 2012), esp. chapter 4, 67.

[25] See Vladimir Solovyov, “A Short Story of Antichrist,” in A Solovyov Anthology, ed. S.L. Frank (London: St. Austin Press), 231.

[26] Balthasar, Theo-Drama vol. 4, 452.

[27] These are the concluding words of Ecce Homo.

Featured Image: Paul Guguin, Agony in the Garden, 1889; Source: Wikimedia Commons, PD-Old-100. 


Philip Gonzales

Philip Gonzales is a Lecturer in Philosophy at the Pontifical University of St. Patrick's College Maynooth. He is the author of Reimagining the Analogia Entis: The Future of Erich Przywara's Christian Vision.

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