Ecce Homo Sexual: Ontology and Eros in the Age of Incompleteness and Entanglementby Johnny Golding



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Ecce Homo Sexual: Ontology and Eros in the Age of Incompleteness and


Johnny Golding

Published online: 11 Jul 2014.

To cite this article: Johnny Golding (2014) Ecce Homo Sexual: Ontology and Eros in the Age of

Incompleteness and Entanglement, Parallax, 20:3, 217-230, DOI: 10.1080/13534645.2014.927628

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Ecce Homo Sexual: Ontology and Eros in the Age of Incompleteness and Entanglement

Johnny Golding (Received 13 August 2013; accepted 15 October 2013)

It was as if someone had spread butter on all the fine points of the stars ‘Cause when he looked up they started to slip.

Patti Smith.1

Diffraction: used; somewhat dirty.

Nietzsche’s iconic Ecce Homomakes for a rather different read than the one associated with its original author, Pontius Pilate. As is well known, Pilate, in distancing himself from the question as to whether Jesus of Nazareth was ‘just a man’ or instead, ‘the son of God’ and therewith God Himself, was said to have pointed to the battered Jesus and, washing his hands of the consequences, adjudicated: ‘Behold the man!’2 The rest, as they say, is history: Jesus was summarily and brutally nailed to a cross on charges of blasphemy and treason, and an entire religious practice was, for better or worse, carved into life. It would also be fair to say that Nietzsche, deeply uninterested in that particular twist on the God versus man debate, not to mention,

Religion itself, nevertheless inhabited that expression, took it as the title of his major last work, an autobiographical work no less, every bit aware of the raw emotion and excess baggage its peel-back to the Jesus/Pilate incident brought to the table.

There are substantial, wildly conflicting and hugely entertaining interpretations recounting the ‘why’ of this move; and though most are extremely poignant, none will be addressed here. However, a small clarification must be drawn at this point.

In the translation by R.J. Hollingdale of Nietzsche’s Ecce homo, a subtitle is added to the work so that it now reads Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One Is.3 Importantly, rather than the infamous rendering ‘Ecce homo!’ (this is a man and not a God) foregrounding the debate, the reverse is at stake. A long shadow (perhaps hue, tonality or timbre as the better descriptor) is cast over Nietzsche’s proceedings so that the ‘excess baggage’ tucked into the re-staging of that pronouncement-cumjudgment-cum-consequence is never far behind, never detached, never completely q 2014 Taylor & Francis parallax, 2014

Vol. 20, No. 3, 217–230, parallax 217

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Q ue en sla nd ] a t 0 5:3 3 1 3 M arc h 2 01 5 obliterated from the problem at hand; but neither is that ‘excess baggage’ the direct (or even secret) object of his argument/autobiography. With Nietzsche/ Hollingdale’s recontextualisation Ecce homo moves closer to the Greek version (Ἰdoὺ ὁ ἄnurvpo6) where the emphasis is on the conditions to which this entity ‘Man’ are called to account, not in a judgmental way, but simply and directly in a way that takes into account the uncomfortable, the inconvenient, the, let’s say, infected rationalities, of the whole picture of what is involved with grasping (understanding, taking hold of) the present as it is, in all its deeply problematic and hardly pristine conditions we call ‘being human’. For Nietzsche’s Ecce Homo breaks the Hegelian dialectic in all of us, and, morphing a peculiar kind of Kantian enlightenment [Aufkla¨rung ] into its sensuous components of broken body, ego-ambition, defiance and fear, with and against the religious/establishment inquisitions of our times,

Nietzsche proclaims in defiance to both God and mortal being: Ecce Homo! Here is

Man (this man, this life and no other), right here, right now, in all its acne and smells, burning with the paradox of vitality, anger, cruelty, joy, weakness, intelligence, stupidity and temptation.

As a living God one becomes not only ‘the anti-Christ’, but also, simultaneously, ‘the anti-Man.’ No original sin here, no particular judgment as of yet, this ‘ecce homo’ balances on the precarious context of messy, dirty logics of difference and decay, logics of movements, impulses and meanings that do not and indeed, cannot, ‘fit in’ to an Absolute Universal Truth or pure ontological given. As Nietzsche emphasizes, ‘[o]ne must learn how to live’.4 But this learning ‘how to live’, this self-becoming/selfovercoming – this ‘how one becomes what one is’ – has little or nothing to do with the governing rules or abstract propositions, or, for that matter a transcendental intervention to the logic of life itself. Rather, it has to do with, as Wittgenstein might put it, the application of the ‘how’ of ecce homo to the very conditions of reality, this reality, this right here and right now.5 One must take into account a complexity that side-steps the identity trap inherent in speculative idealism and teleological renderings of essences coming to light, always-already prefigured or established in an abstract proposition or contradictive unity (or both) and pressed ever-onward by an indefatigable will, to reach its universalized, some might say, tautologically given goal. As Nietzsche would say instead: ‘I do not refute Ideals, I merely put on gloves. ( . . . ) My humanity is a constant self-overcoming.’6 This, and nothing less, are the here/now groundless grounds of one’s humanity; a used, slightly soiled present-tense ‘is’, neither vacuous nor fully formed, both anti-Christ and anti-Man, at one and the same time.