Monday, November 24, 2008

'God's dead, what now?'

I was talking with one of my colleagues, who was an English teacher for many years, about Obama and how many people are looking at him as a messiah type figure. This is something that Obama admits he can never ever live up to. Then my colleague was talking about the idea that when there is no God, people make their own. The he shared some interesting quotes from a couple of poets which deal with the idea that 'God is dead' or rather that He's dead/ dying in our society. So I looked up Eugene O'Neill (American playwright and author), one of the guys he quoted. Here's a quote by O'Neill and a then passage that mentions Nietzsche in connection with O'Neill (emphasis mine). I think these passages very describe well what has taken place in Western society.

The sickness of our time
The sickness of our time lies in the death of the old God and failure of Science and Materialism to give any satisfying new one for the surviving primitive religious instinct to find a meaning for life in, and to comfort his fears of death with.
[O'Neill, “Letter of Aug. 26, 1926,” printed in “As Ever, Gene”: The Letters of Eugene O'Neill to George Jean Nathan, ed, Nancy L. Roberts and Arthur W. Roberts (Cranbury, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 1987, 84.]

Nietzsche and O'Neill
...But closer background inspection [of the philosophical contexts of certain works] exposes Nietzsche's and O'Neill's abdication from a God as a reconstructive move that critiques the deceptive man-made gods of their times. In Derridean terms, both writers preserve the existence of a God-function and only shift the ontology of its contents from the transcendental to the immanent: the individual takes over metaphysics and becomes his or her own god...

Eugene O'Neill was part of the intellectual movement that swept Western thought during the twentieth century, and swept the “old gods” out of its philosophy—and life. But unlike most modern thinkers, O'Neill was uncomfortable with the void left by so drastic a denial. His life, and especially his writings were a never-ending search for “new gods” to replace the old, gods that would be meaningful to modern men.

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