equivocal II

The fascinans corresponds to the intoxicating qualities of the sacred, to the Dionysian giddiness, the ecstasy, the unity of transport. However, it is also, more simply, the bounty, the mercy, and the love of the divinity for what he has created that draws them irresistibly. On the other hand, the tremendum represents “divine wrath,” the inexorable justice of the “jealous” God before whom the humbled sinner trembles and begs pardon. In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna appears before the hero Arjuna, who is terrified at seeing humans hurling themselves en masse into the God’s mouth, like mountain streams flowing into the sea, “as the insect flies into the deadly flame.” Some, with heads broken, remain suspended between his teeth, and the God’s tongue thirsts for the entire generations that his throat has swallowed.


(Roger Caillois, “The Ambiguity of the Sacred.” Man and the Sacred.)


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