1 There is an interesting question in Barth's theology of sexual difference concerning "marriage" as a social, contractual institution and "marriage" as a covenantal relation. Barth allows for divorce on the grounds that the relation may not have been and subsequently misunderstood as being covenantal. The "marriage" seems then the relation issuing from the consummation of sexual difference; a relation that is ontologically prior to any ceremonial procedure.
2 This is a Hegelian term, "recognition." In German the prefix er establishes the sense of a coming-towards or proximity to. For Hegel identification or recognition is never final; it is a process that remains incomplete. It is a moment in the coming to self-consciousness of any notion or idea. It is a term used extensively in the Lordship and Bondsman discourse of Phenomenology of Spirit (1807). Through the dialectic process, '[t]hey recognize themselves as mutually recognizing one another' (Hegel 1977: 112; #184). The mutually constitutive knowledge that each attains is a work that takes place in the interchange between them; the knowledge in this sense is "achieved," not discovered or revealed.
3 See Henry (2000) for a discussion of the relationship between nihilism and an eroticism that is simply reduced to sexuality. This reduction is found even in Merleau-Ponty, who in his celebrated chapter on sexuality and the body speaks of Eros as Libido.
4 The history of bestiality points to a long-standing awareness of erotic relations between human beings and animals that has, at times, been sexual. Hence I speak about "responsive beings," but I am also aware others have found erotic relations between human beings and other natural forms - trees, water, mountains, and landscapes. In the opening sequences of The English Patient (USA 1996), for example, the camera pans erotically over the undulating North African desert as if it were the body of a woman. In Nicholas Roeg's film Walkabout (Australia 1970), trees are given a similar erotic charge.
5 Neither is there any need to label the "performance of an explicit sexual encounter" the "consummation" of sex, as if all other forms of erotic relationship were inferior to explicit sexual congress.
6 "There is a difference between calling something a gift, and calling it a donation; it can be a gift even before it is given, but it cannot be called in any way a donation unless it has been given" (Augustine 1991b: 200; V16).
7 Levinas, following Plato - and evidently the Christian tradition has been indebted to Plato - would concur: the ethical (or the Good) is beyond being and prior to the ontological. This distinction between Good and Being does not imply an absolute difference between ethics and ontology, only a distance (diastema) that separates them. One might say that what makes the Good good is that it gives all things, it delivers being or donates.
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