Le temps de la fêlure: Le messianisme qui vient

Danielle Cohen-Levinas


Inspired by Walter Benjamin’s thought, this article starts with the idea that every historical work on time implies a movement of settling of the present in the sensitiveness of the very things. Historical time? The term, in its usual meaning, and undoubtedly inappropriate to designate the phenomenon, at once of settling and escape, so that it is submitted to a law of discontinuity, of delay, of disfigurement and destruction; a law through which the issue of messianic time would come to the more unapparent surface of experience, “of remnants, so to speak” as quotes Benjamin in a letter from August 9th of 1935, destined to Gershom Scholem. Messianic time? Because this one overflows, toward all directions, the limits or the law of settling. Reflection on historical time would then fit in a temporality that is only conceivable as loosing, which energy would be rather restorative or utopist, thus inflicting time itself an explicitly political dimension that might be condensed in the binomial right and violence. I question the state of exception that the messianic time represents in the exact moment it appears in the very tissue of historical time. Fracture, intrusion, rupture, acceleration, rip, impatience, invitation, enchantment, revolution... it is always about a trial of deformalization of time itself, raising a diachronic effect, or else, of detachment, detour or inversion, there where historical time assures its sovereignty. The critique of violence is therefore in the core of this reflection just as much as in every conceptual trespassing inside the thinking on messianism. Hence the idea of “time against time” and of messianism of the other. I intend to develop a kind of non-exhaustive cartography of what Scholem called “trespass the wall of historicity”. Historical time, manifestly moving to the fulgurant “instant” (Rosenzweig) that threatens the basis of its truth, reveals crystallized and sedimented layers, as it was whether idioms to translate or the confession of an absolute vulnerability of a temporal tension that can only extinguish by denying itself.

Keywords: Instant, deformalization of time, political interruption, storm, collector, messianicity without messianism, the just-arrived / the one who comes.

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ISSNe 2447-6803 (eletrônico)

ISSN 0102-0269 (impresso)

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