the shroud of the tabernacle

Uncategorized August 18, 2016

But this place and this figure have a singular structure: the structure encloses its void within itself, shelters only its own interiorized desert. It opens onto nothing, encloses nothing, contains as its treasure only nothingness: a hole, an empty spacing, a death. A death or a dead man, because according to Hegel space is death and because this space is also one of absolute vacuity. Nothing behind the curtains. Hence the ingenuous surprise of the non-Jew when he opens, when he is allowed to open or when he violates the tabernacle, when he enters the dwelling or the temple and after so many ritual detours to reach the secret center, he discovers nothing—only nothingness.

-Jacques Derrida, Glas

The burial shroud of Christ (the shroud of Turin) perhaps finds a counterpart in the Judaic tradition of the veil covering the tabernacle (in Hebrew, the root of the word is ‘tent’. In some Christian religions the term is used to describe sacred cupboards that contained a part of the body of Christ, under the appearance of wine or bread). The shroud, however, holds the face of that inimitably divine humanity in a likeness, the most singular of presences made visible in his absence. This is to find the meeting place of absolute appearance and absolute nothingness: to see the face of the son of god is to see nothing.

Just as the impression of a lover’s body left in the tangle of sheets, the slightest depression of the mattress, presents a portrait that speaks only and directly to the one who loves.