The Witness


It is often claimed that man only can be a witness in two ways - either with his blood or with his words. In the first case, he testifies by putting his own life at risk and ultimately by dying. This idea becomes a classic trope already in early Christian theology - the dead body as a signifier of truth - and paves the way for the conjunction between death and veracity that is condensed in the Christian concept of "martyrdom". In the second case the witness tries to expose the truth by using his words, thus claiming to resurrect the past and make present the absent by a discursive act. Hereby the witness must face the following dilemma: how can you, as a unique witness to a singular experience, come across as universally trustworthy? How can you convey something that by its nature only happens once, through a language which by definition gains its intelligibility by the means of repetition and generalization? These are the issues at stake in this meandering essay, that takes as its starting point the legacy of Athens (Socrates) and Jerusalem (Christ) and its ramifications in modern day philosophy, literature and politics.

”Upplysningen handlar om att delvis i reformationens anda återupprätta det egna förståndet och dess förmåga att vittna sant. Men i kraft av vad kan förnuftet vittna? Azar visar elegant hur idén om det mest sanningsenliga vittnet faller isär i två helt motstridiga föreställningar.” Dagens Nyheter (Hans Ruin)

”Sverige har en lång tradition av att fånga upp och smälta ned impulser från den utländska idédebatten (där de kan få de mest komplexa uttryck) och gjuta om till avklarnad essäistik. Dit sällar sig nu Michael Azar, med en förstklassig liten bok.” Tidningen kulturen (Thomas Sjösvärd)