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The DisarticulateLanguage, Disability, and the Narratives of Modernity$
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James Berger

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780814708460

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814708460.001.0001

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The Bearing Across of Language

The Bearing Across of Language

Care, Catachresis, and Political Failure

(p.15) 1 The Bearing Across of Language
The Disarticulate

James Berger

NYU Press

This chapter looks at prehistory by analyzing impasses of language in the Epic of Gilgamesh and parts of the Hebrew Bible. As language comes to define the status of the human, the obstruction of language—for instance, at the revelation at Sinai—comes to figure the divine. The chapter also examines the distinctions the between the Old Testament prophet as a partly dys-/disarticulated purveyor of divine instruction and the fool as depicted in the wisdom literature. In the Hebrew Bible, divine ordinance and normative social order are not intrinsically in conflict. The prophet comes to return the divine and social to their proper relation; the fool is one who fails to comply both with divine mitzvoth and social conventionwhich are, essentially, the same. This is in contrast to the subsequent delineation of the sacred fool of Christian thought, wherein the divine and social contexts diverge.

Keywords:   prehistory, impasses of language, Epic of Gilgamesh, Hebrew Bible, obstruction of language, divine, Old Testament prophet, the fool, divine mitzvoth, social convention

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