In “Fear and Trembling,” and more particularly in the first part titled “Exordium,” Kierkegaard provided four (no doubt of many) interpretations of the Abraham/Isaac story. Isn’t it interesting that for each one he provided a supplemental analogy of a mother/child relationship? Why did he do this? Has anybody yet provided a sufficient answer?
For example, in the first one Abraham pretended to be a maniac so that his child Isaac might think that only Abraham is diseased and therefore it is not God who is diseased. Kierkegaard’s analogy was one of a mother who “blackened” her breast so that the mother function might saved and the nipple or partial-object became rendered faulty.
In the second case, Abraham reluctantly followed God’s commandment to murder Isaac. Kiekegaard’s analogy was of a mother who hid her nipple so that the child might feel that the mother has herself disappeared.
What Kierkegaard stumbled upon here is the Lacanian position that the Father is outside of the scene of the mother/child relationship. However, his conclusions were incorrect. The Lacanian orientation provides a useful way of rereading these.
For example, in the first case the father is ineffective and the analogous partial-object ceases to exist. We might suspect that Isaac grew up psychotic and the mother’s desire wasn’t effaced. This is why there is no partial-object, why the nipple – the objet a – did not come into being. The whole body of the mother remained intact and the child was nothing but an extension of that body: one body. In this case, Isaac no doubt grew up psychotic – the father function failed.
In the second case the mother disappears and with it so does the partial object (nipple). This is the liminal zone of perversion where Isaac grows up confused about the Father/God. For example, Abraham followed the commandment of God, so God must be real! However, why would God be so cruel? The solution was to disavow God and Abraham’s phallic authority.
It is the fourth case that is the most preferable, then. Abraham follows the plan but reveals to the son’s eyes resistance to the horrible deed. The analogy for Kierkegaard was that the mother has “more solid food” to feed the child so that the child is never hungry. In other words, the child’s autonomy is saved. Presumably, the “solid food” refers to something after the weaning process, a the child advances, in a sense, to the anal stage. The horrible duty of the Father is to say “no” but to demonstrate to the child also that this is an act of love.