The transcendental view of God that Barth suggests (The Wholly Other) is very similar to the idea of the Unpresentable in Lyotard. Both God (in Barth) and The Unpresentable are something that human agency can’t contain, describe, or know comprehensively; in art, speculative thought, concrete dogma, or any other human projection, God is ever un-image-able. Even more, according to Barth, there is no possibility of coming to know God at all apart from his own self-disclosure in Christ. That is why God in Christ has “invaded” our horizontal realities and met us here. An article written by Heinz Zahrnt states that “Like ‘a wall of fire blocking the view in every direction’… like a ‘cry of alarm’, or [like] a ‘beacon’ blazing into this world, acting to ‘shatter’, ‘trouble’, and ‘undermine’ everything here below,” so God has disrupted our horizontality to make himself known.
This brings up an interesting idea that has been bouncing around in my head for quite some time. While I perceive that there are many similarities in Barth’s and Lyotard’s view of the Grand, the major difference, I have heretofore believed, is that Lyotard had no capacity to accept that The Unpresentable could ever be presented. Whereas in Barth we see that God in Christ has necessarily “presented” himself. However, if we interpret Lyotard as meaning precisely the same thing as Barth (i.e. “there is no way from man to God [Unpresentable]”) then we see much more harmony between the two than I had afore believed; the implications of which would lead to a Lyotardian-Barthian Christological aesthetic that is rooted in the idea that Christ’s beauty is essentially God’s revelatory “presentation of the Unpresentable.”