Thinking Tears That Tear Us

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We are all born with tears in our eyes. Our cry is the first sign of life to our caregivers. It is our way of coming into the world. The cry and tears are performative. They mark the distance between us and the world. This marking of distance continues every time we cry and tears roll down our eyes. Tears are a form of a tear that marks our space in the world. We may need Derrida’s notion of spacing to understand our tears and the tear that they perform. Derrida teaches that spacing is an unacknowledged, repressed or invisible act of differentiation that is required so that any form of identification can take place.  Spacing thus effects a distinction between one thing and another. It produces a sense of proximity and distance. It is primary to all our cognitive and perceptual activities. It is through spacing that we reach our conceptual precision.

Spacing is the primordial process of shifting, dividing and separating. It inserts form and order onto insubstantial and undifferentiated stuff. It continues the work of God that ordered the cosmos out of primordial chaos.  Spacing also carves out finite time from the ocean of infinite time.  It is a mode of hominization and is a cosmogeny ( a way of making/ generating our world). The first cry of a baby is the first speaking. This is why maybe like Derrida we can see how spacing is central to language ( pause, bank interval, punctuation etc.). Spacing, therefore, is the condition of all signification. It is a condition of impossibility in as much as without it no signification/ meaning can take place. This is why we have to admit that spacing constitutes the order of things/ the symbolic orders that shape our societies and our lives.

Spacing is both an interval and a difference.  It is through spacing that space and time belong together.  All kinds of logics are forms of spacing/ interspacing.  It constitutes all our identities and differences and keeps the conceptual order in the process of being re-established. This means spacing is dynamic and fluid and we can respace that which is already spaced. It stays beyond our thought but shares a relation of constituting the boundaries of our thought. These boundaries are not rigid and can be re-established extending into new domains or contracting within and thus narrowing and constricting thought.

From this discussion, we can return to our tears, cries and the tear that they introduce in our life.  Our cries do introduce a tear, a crack that can be seen as spacing of our world and marking our space within it. John Caputo thinks that our tears are our prayers. They do mark our world and simultaneously opens us to the new order of things that we wish to belong to.  Our tears reveal our longing/ yearning for a new spacing in our life. The way life is ordered so far till the point of tears crumbles down. Tears tear away our past, present and the expectant future. There is a sense of lost past, present and future. This negation or cancellation of our life and our place in the world brings tears down our cheeks inscribing our longing for a new world, the new order that can be thought about as new spacing of time, space and our place in the world.

There are tears of Joy too. Tears of joy also roll down our cheeks when we unexpectedly reach the door of the world that we were longing thereto.  Tears of joy are glorious tears that celebrate the tear that is affected by surprise. This tear is not alien. It is one that one was yearning for. This means the tears of joy are also linked to the spacing and our coming into a new world.  Like the child that is born cries as it comes into a new world, we too are sometimes overwhelmed by the chain of events/ interspacing and as we come into a new order of things we often step into the same with the tears of joy.

Our yearnings and longings are our prayers. These prayers are prayers without words. These prayers are prayers that long for the coming of a new world that will remark our space into it. We can trace a desire for God and the promise of justice in our tears. Tears of joy as well as tears of sorrow effect a tear in our life.  Tears of sorrows are prayers for a new spacing, the new coming of God with the promise of justice. Tears of joy on the other hand are prayers of thanksgiving. They are tears of gratitude for the coming of that tear that brings us into a new world. This is why our tears are both prophetic and mystical. They are longing for the Eschaton, the reign of God.

We may also see this kind of anticipation in the weeping of Jesus for Jerusalem (Lk 19:41). His tears manifest the impeding tear/ destruction that was approaching. The fact that Jesus foresaw the coming of the new world, the fact that Jesus saw the coming of new spacing tears rolled down His cheeks.  Jesus also cried for Lazarus (Jn. 11: 35). His tears manifest the tear that came into His life with the loss of his friend Lazarus. Death respaces our life. We step into a new world. It is human to cry in the face of the death of a loved one. We all cry as we step into a new world with the death of our loved ones.

Our tears manifest a tear of our world at the same time they reveal our prophetico-ethico-politcal sensibilities and longings.  Tears reveal our belief in the promise of justice to come. We can trace the apophatic, apocalyptic and messianic in our tears.  Tears anticipate the world that is coming.  Tears live our hope.  Tears our wordless confessions. Tears are our prayers, dreams and longings. Tears tear us not to wear us down but to open us to embrace the gift of life and its promise.  Tears, therefore, are precious. They are an intermezzo as we step into a new world.  They have a voice and they speak louder than our words.  Tears are therapeutic. They heal our world. Tears carry our theologies of God’s promise. We have tears that see this promise.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao