John 15:5-6

[see also the DoNotDepart page on these verses]

This is grim.

5. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

  • apart from me …: “apart”, not “without. You are physically cut off from your roots
  • … you can do nothing: If you cut yourself off from Jesus you are like an inanimate object. You have needs and desires, like an animal or a robot, and you follow these desires blindly. You might have algorithms to choose between competing desires, but these algorithms will hit a “glass ceiling”. That glass ceiling is where you cut yourself off. You chase your desires but you are not “active” (in Spinoza’s sense), you are passive. You are not human.

6. If anyone does not abide in me, he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burnt.

  • The present tense is used. This is not a warning of punishment in the afterlife. This is happening here and now, on Earth.
  • a branch … the branches. Suddenly, but very quietly — without even needing to be mentioned — you are no longer an individual thing. “The branches” is all there is. And soon not even that: “burnt” not “burned”, as in “burnt away”.

This all reminds me of Beckett’s Trilogy of novels (Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnameable) a thoroughly harrowing exploration of humanity with all the humanity removed.

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