We are stuck in the middle of history ourselves

You cannot view [history] from above or get an eagle-eye view of the events. I myself though that was possible when I was writing Things Hidden since the Foundation of the World (1978), in which I imagined Christianity provided the point of view from which we could judge violence. However, there is neither non-sacrificial space, nor “true history”.

I’ll admit that when I read Things Hidden I found his passages on the “non-sacrificial” view of history completely confusing. It is pleasant to discover that he has now thrown most of this out.

I reread my analysis of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Hebrews, which was my last “modern” and “anti-Christian” argument. The criticism of an “historical Christianity” and argument in favor of a kind of “essential Christianity,” which I thought I had grasped in a Hegelian manner,m was absurd. On the contrary, we have to think of Christianity as essentially historical, and Clausewitz helps us do so. Solomon’s judgment explains everything on this score: there is the sacrifice of the other, and self-sacrifice; archaic sacrifice and Christian sacrifice. However, it is all sacrifice.

We are immersed in mimetism and have to find a way around the pitfalls of our desire, which is always desire for what the other possesses. I repeat, absolute knowledge is not possible. We are forced to remain at the heart of history and to act at the heart of violence because we are always gaining a better understanding of its mechanisms. Will we ever be able to elude them? I doubt it.

-Rene Girard, Battling to the End, p.35