In this narrative I want to focus on Jews who have transcended Jewishness and who have made unique contributions to the world as thinkers and doers. The Jews who transcended Jewishness that I want to write about are: Christ, Marx, Freud and Kafka.
Everyone is almost too familiar with Jesus Christ of Nazareth. He is one of the early pioneers of the Messianic culture and he is the one who sowed the seeds of an ideal government, a seed of infancy which later Marx pruned into an an economic and social ideal as Communism. This seed has contributed a lot to the development of the controversial ideology—the Theory of Liberation. A unique feature of Christ was he was able to identify with the marginalized or the subaltern. The sick, the poor, the blind, the lame and the deaf all found solace and redemption in him. The Sermon on the Mount, the beatitudes carry the most philosophical aspect of his Philosophy. However after his times, Christianity has become institutionalized as a business and proliferates an inhuman ideology that is called Churchianity. As a disgruntled Christian I transcend the religiosity of Christianity into a more intimate earthy theology. The Kingdom of God as proclaimed by Christ and also the New Jerusalem can be rationalized into social equality, gender empowerment and economic justice, all Philosophical attributes of Liberation Theology. Eternal life is a mantra for spending quality time on earth, having the means and resources to satisfy one’s needs, desires and wants. The crucifixion can teach as an example of religio-cultural intolerance and prejudice. Christ went ahead in democratizing traditional Jewish culture and he and disciples became successful in proselytizing people. It’s an irony of history that the first Christians were Jews. I sometimes through my imbibed Christian culture identify myself as a Gentile Jew and I feel proud to do so.
Nobody is deaf to the name of Karl Marx one of the greatest thinkers and intellects of the century. The ideology of communism was not bankrupt but the people who practiced were communist hypocrites. Communism is really pruned Christianity and it prophesied the ideals of a just economic system that perpetuates social justice and equality. The idea of a commune somehow became degenerate into a corrupt rule of fascist hungry dogs. Perhaps the only country where Communism has been totally successful has been Cuba. And modern Cuba has remarkably democratized and Cubanized its polity and economy with developing friendly relationship with countries that are Capitalist and Catholic. The Cuban government’s zeal to patronize the pope can be interpreted as a gesture of cultural opportunism and there’s no harm being done.
Sigmund Freud is no doubt a great thinker who went ahead and dichotomized the mind into the id, ego and superego. With development of Freudian ideology, the notion of the self as unity became tinkered with bricolage of a disunited self, struggling to maintain a coherent unity called self. Innovators, psychos, and lunatics and all creative people transcend the unity of the self by disengaging themselves from the Ego and the Super Ego and creating either anarchies or creatopias. The psychos, lunatics and the mentally challenged become immune to the callings of conscience inherent in the Ego and the Super Ego and libidinize their actions through pursuing a destructive death principle known as the thanatic drive. However creators and innovators transcend the ID and utilize its Dionysian energies to creative ecstasy. Ordinary people on the other hand succumb to bourgeoisie instincts of cultural acceptance and become subjects on whom ideology is injected and disseminated as a weapon for subjection. Freud is also noted for his analysis of the controversial structure of the Libido. The Oedipus complex and Electra complex are hallowed psychic structures and their conceptualities are deconstructed in texts of literature, culture and philosophy. Freud is also noted for his contributions of telling us why a society should avoid incest and murder and also channel the Dionysian energies of the ID to the process of creating art which is also known as sublimation.
Kafka was really an alien of Jewish culture and he somehow transcended Jewishness and liberated himself to acquire a Hellenic plane of thought. Kafka lived in the most troubled times of history that is an era of Jewish persecution. The freedom of the West and also its persecution rendered wounds of fracture and rupture in Kafka’s soul. Kafka’s life was also marked with a troubled relationship with his father which is predominantly felt in his psyche as a wounding Jewish Father. Persecution, Hellenism and a dominant Jew Father of an Oedipal conflict all traumatized his mind to a pathetic abjection. This abjection was internalized creatively and thus we have metamorphic transformation of Gregor Samsa into an insect in his short fiction: Metamorphosis. Kafka is one intellectual writer who expressed vibrantly the themes of alienation. The realism of Angst was portrayed so vividly as an interiorization doubting the self and using devices to beget devices of a creative phantasmagoria.