Strangers, Gods and Monsters?

Strangers, gods and monsters are the central characters of my story. Their favourite haunts are those phantasmal boundaries where maps run out (…) No man’s land. Land’s end. Strangers, gods and monsters represent experiences of extermity which brings us the the edge. They subvert our established categories and challenge us to think again.
(…) Figure of a ‘stranger’ (…) operates as a limit-experience for humans trying to identify themselves over and against others. (…) Monsters show us that if our aims are celestial, our origins are terrestrial. They ghost the margins of what can be legitimately thought and said. By definition unrecognizable, they defy our accredited norms of identification. Unnatural, transgressive, obscene, contradictory, heterogeneous, mad. (…) Gods are the names given by most mythologies and religions to those beings whose numinous power and mystery exceed our grasp and bid us kneel and worship. (…) Transcending laws of time and space, they readily take on immortal or protean status. Gods’ ways are not our ways. They bedazzle and surprise us. It is not ours to reason why.

“Strangers, Gods and Monsters – Interpreting otherness” (2002) by Richard Kearney. This book is a truly inspiring piece of a contemporary philosophy (with an emphasis on a cross-disciplinary approach) – fantastically written, and with a formidable erudition. The theme in itself can make a life-long passion for an artist, a writer or a philosopher alike. It’s universal, immortal, captivating, inexhaustible. A concept and an experience of the liminality of the humanness, the identity and the nature of being/existing as one of the species, being challenged by and/or … living as a ‘stranger/the Other’, ‘a monster’, ‘a deity’… What does it all mean and why most of us take such profound issues as if for granted (actually, not addressing them at all); letting only to be occasionally ‘scared’ by a horror-movie or bedazzled by a genius of a literary/artistic god? How about our true identity/nature, why do we need ‘strangers, gods and monsters’ at all – aren’t they something like projections of this part of our psyche/mind, which still remains – partly due to our own wish – “no man’s land”- Terra Incognita?

Think about that a bit, my dear readers, it’s a perfect brain-teaser for this time of the year. God comes as a stranger to defeat a monster – but – couldn’t be like that – these three  composing just one being – own being? Merry Christmas everyone. As a character of W. Wender’s film had said to an angel: I cannot see you but I know that you are here. Thanks for your attentive, well-wishing and open-minded company.

P. S.
Richard Kearney is a professor of philosophy at Boston College and University College Dublin.
Click at the title to read a review of this book. The fragment quoted comes from an ‘Introduction’, pp. 3-4


About kasia

Born in Poland. Lives in Ireland, Cork. Visual artist. View all posts by kasia

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