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That reality is ultimately meaningful we must take on faith. Indeed, Steiner believes that we already take this on faith. In other words, communication happens; music moves us; in art we seem to encounter the presence of the other. Notwithstanding the instability of meaning, we speak and create because we implicitly believe that meaning and feeling can be successfully though not comprehensively conveyed.

Every time we communicate, create or encounter art, we wager that language and artistic creation are meaningful, even if we cannot philosophically justify that meaning, or prove its ground. This is what Steiner means when he says that we must assume God a transcendent Other in order to have meaning at all. God may or may not be there, but we must suspend disbelief and wager his existence in order to ground meaning in reality. Thus, in part three, Presences, Steiner argues that something in art meets us, giving us an intense experience of presence.

This experience of presence calls for an ethics of reception: we must learn to receive the presence of the other with hospitality. Art, indeed, tests us in our capacity for this perception. No such authorization… can be materially demonstrated. All we have are further images. Yet to take the wager of transcendence is to choose to believe that language and art are ultimately meaningful because reality is ultimately meaningful, and it is meaningful because it is grounded in the presence of God.

Steiner argues that all artistic creation is ultimately a reply to the initial speech-act of Creation. This means that no matter how fallen or agonistic our creative acts may be, the very impulse to create is obedient; we cannot help but create. Thus every act of creativity unwittingly continues the conversation that God is having with creation. Steiner also helpfully reminds us that there are experiences that do not fit into our neat theological systems; there are saturated phenomena where the experience exceeds our categories to contain it.

Are we comfortable being completely moved without completely understanding what is moving us? What a performance! What depth! What prodigality! I think I understood some sentences. Steiner is too clever by half Jul 26, Sawsan Madan rated it it was amazing. One of the books that captivates your essence.

A must read for everyone interested in literature. Jul 25, Zoonanism rated it really liked it. A thrill to read, less perhaps for the strength of arguments than the rhythm and melody with which they are presented. There are bits where the flourish is excessive. Take a meditation on the fact that our word lion need not defecate nor roar like what it stand for, he goes on to celebrate what it can do instead. It can, Gorgeous George informs us "enter the reticulative unboundedness of its lexical-grammatical universe" and become the "head of a chrysanthemum" or the "lineament of a star cluste A thrill to read, less perhaps for the strength of arguments than the rhythm and melody with which they are presented.

It can, Gorgeous George informs us "enter the reticulative unboundedness of its lexical-grammatical universe" and become the "head of a chrysanthemum" or the "lineament of a star cluster" from which those two are as wholly absent as Feb 16, Jeremy marked it as to-read Shelves: non-fiction , religion , art , criticism , literature , philosophy , want-to-buy.

Carl Springer relies on this work in his very helpful essay on theory.


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I seem to recall that David Lyle Jeffrey liked this book a lot. Vanhoozer says this book greatly influenced him video unavailable. Description in Barry's Beginning Theory : "Steiner is a polyglot, polymath humanist whose work has never been anti-theoretical. In the three long essays in this book he grapples with the problem of relating theoretical accounts to the actual experience of responding to literature and the other a Carl Springer relies on this work in his very helpful essay on theory.

In the three long essays in this book he grapples with the problem of relating theoretical accounts to the actual experience of responding to literature and the other arts" Barry includes this book in a list of "books representing the liberal humanist position," against which "theory" is pitted. Jul 31, Chris Lawrence rated it did not like it. I am tempted to say Steiner makes name-dropping into an art form.

But that would be wrong. Art it is not. Reviewed in: Whispers of the gods. Dec 21, Kay rated it it was amazing. It is always a challenge to enter a thought journey with George Steiner. His luscious prose match the labyrinthine meanderings of his mind. This particular voyage starts with a knock on critics.

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He says that only an artist can truly comment on another artist. This train of thought makes me want to revisit Bloom's The Agony of Influence with Steiner in the back of my mind. Ghent he criticizes deconstructionism in which I am in total agreement. Then he gets to the crux of this essay. The arts are It is always a challenge to enter a thought journey with George Steiner.

The arts are a fight against death and ultimately a result in the belief of God. Every time I finish a book by Steiner I just to delve into more Steiner. George Steiner's wide-ranging knowledge of literature, arts, music and philosophy fills every page of the book with various references and examples and great insights. What Steiner is talking about here is something that is plain and obvious. Yet the world we are living in today is so crowded with secularism and "deconstructive" theories that the arts, literature, music and religion are choking under the pressure, and such an obvious thesis as Real Presences needs such careful and long explanation.

Sep 18, Nathan Hilkert rated it it was amazing. Steiner provides a prolegomena for theological hermeneutics of literature.

Real Presences by George Steiner, Steiner |, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

This book is written in gorgeous prose and makes sound arguments; it has some quotable quotes to boot! Even more, Steiner manages to root out and affirm some of postmodernity's central concerns, even while denying their "philological" concerns pride of place in our reading of literature. Here, I have to shamefully admit that Steiner would likely castigate me for writing a "review" of his work. He contends that one writes Steiner provides a prolegomena for theological hermeneutics of literature. He contends that one writes literature in response to literature and not tawdry marginalia on it.

Aug 28, Don Milam rated it really liked it Shelves: favorites.

Top scary moments caught on camera "ghost presence"

Love the book and its explorations into the presence of God in the creative process. Jun 21, Summer is currently reading it. From my teacher of Zen and Performance Art. Feb 22, W rated it it was amazing.

Real Presences

The reform is a law thought out by authorities in the field of liturgy, debated and studied at length. Real continuity can involve significant discontinuity. Indeed, the post—Vatican II liturgical reform is an excellent example of how a genuine tradition can organically evolve by looking at its own roots. The list of changes between the Tridentine Mass and the Novus Ordo is long: the use of the vernacular; active verbal participation by all the assembly; an audible Eucharistic Prayer; Communion in the hand and from the Cup for the laity; an altar facing the people; and the exchange of peace by everyone.

Yet only one item on this extensive list could be called an innovation: the expansion of the lectionary. All the rest are not innovations but restorations, revivals of practices once integral to the Roman Catholic tradition of public worship, but which for various reasons had been abandoned over time. The Tridentine Mass reflected the state of liturgical and historical understanding in the fifteenth century; the Novus Ordo reflects the much richer set of resources available to the church in the twentieth.

Much more important, the core distinction between these two orders of Mass lies not in external details, but in a renewed inner spirit. That core theological restoration is summarized in one simple expression: the Real Presences of Jesus, in the plural. The desire to let each of these four real presences shine forth once more during the Mass was the guiding principle behind the restorations.

Yet from the two-millennia-long perspective of Roman Catholic tradition, the latter reform represented a profound spiritual continuity. If Christ, for example, is really present both in the assembly and in the ministers, why should a priest face a wall when he is talking to God? Why should behavior in church imitate the court etiquette of Versailles instead of the interactive behavior of believers described in St.

I can personally appreciate the dynamic of the Tridentine Mass, since I grew up with it and some of my most profound religious experiences occurred within it. Yet its celebration focused so much on only one real presence that the Eucharistic Prayer could seem to be some sort of transubstantiation machine run by the priest, for spectators to behold and adore.

The rightness of it all comes from experiencing the very real and gradually intensifying presence of Jesus through the unfolding of all of these manifestations. It also feels right because I know that at the core, this is both what Jesus commanded us to do and also what Christians in the West actually did for centuries, before the Dark Ages led to profound adaptations that turned the laity into spectators rather than participants in the Mass. These medieval adaptations have still not gone away, even though the world has changed profoundly.


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  • I am especially moved by the rightness of the Mass of Paul VI because the parishes in which I have worshipped throughout most of my adult life have in general baked their own bread. It is easy to make unleavened bread: there are several good recipes online. Consequently, instead of being presented with a neat, white, round little commercially produced host, I am used to watching a large unleavened loaf be presented sometimes by the person who baked it , consecrated, divided, and distributed.

    As Luke puts it in the Emmaus episode, Jesus is made known not merely in the object of Bread, but in the action of breaking and sharing it. Some object to such a strong emphasis on the Eucharist as meal because it seems to them to diminish its reality as a sacrifice.

    Yet that is a false dichotomy. So how do we break out of the impasse that exists in the many parishes where discontent with the liturgy has bred apathy? I have seen gigantic tabernacles, dramatized recitations of the words of institution, exaggerated elevations, and prolonged genuflections—all in the name of restoring reverence for the Real Presence. It was not meant to be an experience of private, mystical prayer—valuable though that be—but a communal, sacramental experience in which, through Word and water, wine and bread, and above all through people, the real and living presence of Christ is encountered.

    And so we do not need to reform the reform; we need to do the reform, and not just in the letter, but in the spirit that fills our post—Vatican II liturgical books.