Hyphenating Life with life in the Pronouns

The textual practice of hyphenation is a punctuation sign that connects and separates two different entities. Hyphen opens a space of liminality where we both belong and not belong at the same time. We belong by not belonging. It manifests that we are in transitions and experience in-between-ness. It is being in-between cultures, places and times. It is a condition of being at home and being unhomed at the same time. We experience hyphenated life. Hyphenated life is one of border crossing and is transgressive. Hyphenated life is marked by undecidability. This is because the hyphen is not a full stop rather the ‘not stopped-stoppable’. It opens us to the fact of being lodged and being dislodged in life where we are caught between our belonging and longing. We seem to have no axis Mundi that will offer us a place to stand. We marked by the traces of the past. We carry them and they mark our belonging and longing. Trace is invisible and cannot be fully present. It is psychic and hence operates by haunting us. It makes us yearn for something from the past/ elsewhere by evoking in us a sense of loss. This becomes complex when the home itself becomes a shifting centre due to work and the search for greener pastures that can push us to the condition of migrancy and international refugeeness. This puts our identities into an in-between condition of undecidability that haunts us with a feeling that something has to be decided on. This haunting is of decision that is still pending is already hapenning. Humanity is thus, left to live hyphenated life in several ways.

The fact that we have multiple identities, we come under the weight of hyphenated life. We seem to have become exiled in our own home and country. We are all living an in-between life. Our home has become a hyphen and hyphen has become our home. We are living hyphenated lives. In English the word hyphen is derived from the Greek word huphen, meaning together. It is a sign of connection/ union. It marks a doubling in our life. One cannot exist without the other. This need of one for the other is not to compete or complement. It keeps the two incomplete. This is because hyphenation joins words/signs and disjoin/ break off at the same time. Hence, hyphenation takes us into a hybrid space and time. Hyphen is therefore a true in-between. Derrida tells us that a hyphen has the effect of bringing together and yet separating what is hinged as it operates across the divide yet never belonging to either side. Hyphen is a dash-line that indicates the invisible, that which is hidden behind the visible. It stands for separation and connection. We are living on a hyphen. We sense several shades of displacements. Cultural, developmental and political displacements are touching us every day and we are pushed into hyphenated life. We are fast becoming hyphenated and hyphenating humans. Live opens up and keeps us on the road of transition all the time. Derrida teaches us that life has become a trail of decidability that leads us to make decisions that advance towards a future that is not known and which cannot be anticipated.

Hyphenation is openness. We are already living on the hyphen. It opens several closures and lets us live without the names/ cultures/ ideologies that close our being. It opens us to what we may call life in the pronouns. I prefer the first person and second person singular to embrace the life in the pronouns. It allows us to address me as an I far removed from my other identities that are based on religion, culture, nation etc. I that is found by the life in the pronouns is also able to shunt the closure of the other. The other who is freed from the closure of naming that crucifies him/her to a name, place, culture, faith etc becomes a YOU/ Thou. Note that here we are dealing with the life in the first and second pronoun as they open us to relate by hyphenating other names, identities and relate without these titles, positions and locations. This does not mean we reject life in the third person pronoun or in the first and second person plural. We may choose a life of silence and detachment that embraces a life of He/ She or they or we. There is nobility in the life of He/She and us/they/them of this kind. But the politics that we bring by marginalizing the other to the position of a he/ she/ we and them can be invisiblizing he/she or them. Hence, we choose the I-thou that brings along a personal dimension and hyphenate the impersonal he/ she as well as hyphenated the political we and them. l as hyphenated I, I am enabled to meet a hyphenated You and we find a hyphenation between I and thou/you (I-you/Thou). Life in the pronouns opens us to life as it unfolds. The other /the you being divested of all significations that dress him/ her/them through the otherness of stereotyping that enables us to manage him/ her and manage our future come to us as other or as you calling me for a response.

But the you/ other remains not fully known. He/she/they come across as the hyphenated other who does not give us the luxury of anticipating his/ her/their moves. We are on the open horizon that does not close on us and closes us. This horizon leads us to do the impossible. We can embrace the unforeseen coming of the other by hyphenating our anticipatory fears, bias and expectations of the other who is coming as a You. Life in the pronouns is living without the burden of the foreclosures that we impose on ourselves and others. This is life in the nude. We do not need the dresses of culture, faith and nation to meet the other. The other also is freed from that burden. This encounter of the I and the You/ thou leads to the ethics of the singular. We are freed from the generic as the general rounds life for us and puts all of us in the same boat. It is still dressed in our culture and tradition. We hyphenate our culture and tradition and are enable to encounter the other as a You/ Thou. There is the emancipation of life in the life in the pronouns. Let us hyphenate life with the life in the pronouns.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao