Archive for November, 1996

Is Scholem just an academic scholar of a kind?

Monday, November 11th, 1996

Because the historical issue discovered among religio-history that a German Judaic theologian, Scholem, prominently pointed out within his essay — a number of conflicts between parties of religious authority and visionary individuals — is the one to embrace immensely critical theme which questions both our basic attitude toward human society and individual responsibility in the society; we can hardly afford to merely decline the discussion of a nature of religions, or at least, a general perception toward religions as human organizations. This issue should have been thoroughly examined prior to contemplating such an issue as a basic condition for our economical survival.

It is hard to believe that such a writing — Scholem’s essay on Kabalic tradition — has been brought possible merely through either his purely individual curiosity or academic responsibility, without his personal yet not negligible experience of incoming mystical visions. Although it seems at glance that the way the essay regards the subject is quite objective, rather pretentiously scientific, or overtly scholarly, the very fact that he had to take up such a subject indeed signifies his willy-nilly type adherence to the subject.

In other words, what a mysticist really intends through his/her writings can be in fact recognized only through other true mysticists; likewise, without acquiring the distinct awareness that he/she has been more or less a mysticist him/herself, neither should he/she have been able to become intrigued by such a specific subject, nor should he/she have come to the idea which may give some solutions to the various problems entailed in religio-history or incorporated with, so-called, the common doom of all mankind.

The initial motivation to take up the theme on contradictions between the Reason of religions to procrastinate the arrival of the promised end of time — the large-scale catastrophe — and individual willingness toward freedom, or at least, individual passion aiming reformations: the motivation Scholem is possessed with cannot be explained successfully if he lacks his own real experience, a sense of his own distress.

Therefore, when in his essay he discusses these historical figures who became victimized (martyred) in the phenomenal collisions with religious authorities, he in fact intends to provoke arguments, as if he himself is the visionary of a kind, meanwhile he strives so hard impersonating a typical academic figure.