From the profoundly influential social theorist Philip Rieff comes a posthumously published analysis of the deepest level of crisis in our culture.According to Rieff, the contemporary notion of charisma-the personal magnetism of political leaders or movie stars-is a tragic misunderstanding of a profoundly important concept. Charisma originally meant religious grace and authority transferred through divine inspiration, before it evolved into little more than a form of celebrity stripped of moral considerations. Rieff argues that without morality, the gift of grace becomes indistinguishable from the gift of evil and devolves into a license to destroy in the name of faith or ideology. Offering brilliant interpretations of Kierkegaard, Weber, Kafka, Nietzsche, and Freud, Rieff shows how certain thinkers attacked the very possibility of faith and genuine charisma and helped prepare the way for a therapeutic culture in which it is impossible to recognize anything as sacred.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: Charisma|
|Release Date: 12-10-2008|
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It all seems perfectly plausible; in fact, the item advertised on p. 2 of this book may be on the market now, having seen it prophesied in the New Yorker cartoon.
Is it not likely that since all action is now decided from the outside in that a spray-on charisma can will soon be invented? We shall have the recognition factors sorted out, and so by purchase smartly in the economy size, spray ourselves into something extraordinary. This is simply to say what Søren Kierkegaard said more than a century ago, that all inwardness is lost. In this book, I have tried to work through, critically, toward an understanding of how my inwardness was lost for me, and to recognize those chiefly responsible for the loss—our charismatics. The writing has not been therapeutic; on the contrary, that is the point. From the extraordinary way in which Max Weber, among others, canned charisma for us, I have learned that I am opposed to all therapies. The therapeutic is that terrible beast who has been slouching toward Bethlehem. The pity of our lives is that there are no charismatics to save us from him. We can hope for the spray-on charisma can, which will realize the ancient dream of making even the least of us extraordinarily attractive on the outside. The world is fuller than ever before of people who look like charismatics and try to act the part; like the early medieval sect of Waldenses, they insist on wearing sandals, some even in winter. If not to be like the founder, which was the original reason for wearing sandals, then to be recognizable, a little extraordinary, in lieu of the spray-on charisma can. I doubt that the Western world has ever been so full of innovators all hawking...