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 Crip/tography: Of Karma and Cosmopolis S H A R O N V. B E T C H E R Suppose we raise the possibility of a God who belongs not to the fixed order of presence, but to the (dis)order of the deconstruction of presence . . . [and] in favor of a paradigm where . . . sovereign power slips out of favor? Suppose . . . that the event that is sheltered in the name of God does not belong to the order of power and presence, but rather withdraws from the world in order to station him or herself [Godself] with everything that the world despises? Suppose we think of God as someone who prowls the streets and disturbs the peace of . . . Christendom? Suppose we imagine God as a street person with a definite body odor, like Lord Shiva living as a beggar? john caputo, The Weakness of God The human being is human in answer to an ‘‘outside call.’’ gayatri chakravorty spivak, ‘‘Righting Wrongs’’ Rockefeller Center, Christmas 1999 We, knowing we would soon be moving to the other edge of the continent , wanted her to have the enchanted memory of skating at night under the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. After waiting in line for two and a half hours, my daughter Sarah, along with her friend and my partner, Jeff, take to the skating rink. I make my way to a glass concourse at rink level that should allow me to build my own memory—that of watching my daughter set against the jeweled night lights of the city, dusted with the twinkle of snowflake, enfolded in this celebration of humanity turned, by the touch of frost and holiday celebration, toward the warmth of one another. PAGE 303 ................. 17764$ CH17 10-28-10 12:08:15 PS 304 兩 s h ar o n v. b e tc h e r But this is Giuliani’s New York after the first bombing of the World Trade Towers and at the time of the cleanup of unwanted bodies that can clutter the aesthetic appeal of the streets and therefore undermine the economic profitability of a global city; and my body easily slides off the mark of civility. There being no benches, I sit on the floor of the rink-level concourse as tight against the window as I can squeeze and there slip into the bittersweet mesmerization of trying, as a bench-warmer in this situation, to absorb the pleasure of those on the ice. A security guard breaks into my reverie: ‘‘Move or you will be charged with loitering,’’ is the message I receive through the exchange of versions of my still Midwestern as distinct from his recent immigrant English. One recent immigrant, with his own ill fit into the straitjacket of civility (and trying to access the economic circuit through that newly created and often ironically immigrant-based ‘‘security’’ industry ), forced to confront the fact that my body won’t stay upright and mobile. ‘‘I just want to watch my twelve-year-old daughter skate,’’ I protest. ‘‘Look at me,’’ I say, insisting that he take in the disability, the crutches. ‘‘I can’t join her on the ice. Please let me watch.’’ ‘‘Crutches? As likely pipe bombs. How would I know? Please move. I don’t want to lose my job; I can’t risk it,’’ he counters. Between the irony of his surveillance of my lack of compliance with civility and our mutual empathy, we are caught, finally working out a deal that I can stay ten minutes (only!); he will look the other way, but if I hear him whistle, it’s a warning that I need to move immediately, because his supervisor will have spotted this infraction. We strike a deal, try to come to solidarity below the radar of civility, which each of us in our own way threatens. I. ‘‘Picture the world in motion,’’ theologian Ray Bakke invites us: ‘‘the southern hemisphere is coming north, east is coming west, and on all six continents migrations are to the city.’’1 Indeed, ‘‘globalization as urbanization seems,’’ the postcolonial theorist Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak nonchalantly adds, ‘‘one of the least speculative strands in the thinking of globalization.’’2 Given ‘‘the general drive for order, cleanliness and beauty, which Freud put at the center of the civilizing project, . . . it is only a small exaggeration [here at the dawn of the twenty-first century] to say that cities are us, and we are cities,’’ suggests the philosopher and culture critic Mark...


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