Failing Success and Succeeding Failure

Life has to fail to succeed. Life succeeds by failing. Failure is positive. It is an achievement of something. Failure is not nothing. We accomplish failure. Failure is a success. Life is both success and failure. We can fail successfully and also succeed through failure/ by failing. We do not propose to oppose failure with success and construct them as two poles of our thought that exclude each other. We can roll up our intellectual sleeves and try to think them together. When someone speaks of failing successfully, he/she has successfully put them together. Success and failure belong together. We can fail to succeed or succeed to fail. It has been said: Try again. Fail again. Fail better. We can succeed by failing and fail by succeeding. Our success can mark our fall. It can be our failure. Similarly, our fall can be our success. It can initiate new beginnings.

We have to give up the monarchical thinking that thinks that we succeed by avoiding failure. This mode of thinking thinks that absence of failure is success. Hence we struggle. Burn the midnight oil. Try hard to avoid meeting with failure. Even if we fail, we want to hide it. Failure to us is a disaster. We try to cover up our failure as well as the failure of our dear ones. This also means success can hit our heads. We then can become arrogant. We thus begin to think no end of ourselves. But this is when we truly fail in our success. Our success can bring our downfall. We can fail by succeeding and succeed by failing. There is no wall of separation between success and failure. They live into each other. Failure succeeds and becomes a successful failure. Success fails and becomes failed success.

The binary opposition between the two (failure/success) breaks down and we can hyphenate success and failure. Failure can be success and success can be a failure. We can successfully fail as well succeed by failing. We can no longer innocently think that we either fail or succeed. It is not the case at all. Our failure can be our success as well as success can be a spectacular failure. This is why we may say that we are living a failing success and succeeding failure. In fact, life has to fail to succeed. What is often thought of as failed life is a life that succeeds. Failure and success mutually co-constituted each other and shaping our life and being in the world. Life fails despite its success. Failed life succeeds despite its grand failure.

We have to give up worshiping the idol of purity. There is no pure failure nor there is pure success. Failure and success contaminate each other. We have the stains of success in all failures. We do fail successfully. There are traces of success in our failure. We succeed by/through our failures. The same way we can fail through our success. Our success carries the traces of failure. All success is therefore a failed success. There is no pure success. Success is contaminated by failure. We succeed by failing and fail by succeeding. All of us have both failures and successes in our life. But that which we deem as failure carries the traces of success and that which we deem as success carries seeds of our failure. We can therefore succeed in our failure and fail in our success. Life succeeds in its failures and fails in its success at least on this side of the grave. We have to understand the trace-ology of failures and success.

But success and failure can be fantasy. As a fantasy, it has a crippling effect on our life. It can immobilize our life. Success as a fantasy may lead us to think that we have touched the sky. We have entered the status of gods. We then begin to belittle others. Arrogance and pride become our way of life leading us to ridicule and humiliate others. Failure can also take us to the opposite end that kills all our confidence and self-belief. We then think that we are good for nothing. We have the challenge to expel the fantasy of success and failure. It can bring our feet on the ground and make us humble, realistic, and compassionate to each other. It is therefore a huge challenge to get out of the illusion the fantasy. If we choose to remain in the world of fantasy. Failure will not be the road to success nor will success be a success. We shall live the illusion of failure/success all the way down. Really speaking there is no such thing as pure failure/ success. It is an illusion. But fantasy makes us feel that it is real. Fantasy, therefore, has a blinding effect. It makes us blind to the existence of failure in the success and that of success in our failure.

Success is haunted by failure and failure is haunted by success. Both failure and success are spectral. The spectres of failure are haunting success and the spectres of success are haunting failures. We have the hauntology of success and failure. We do not think about our success and failures through the metaphysic of presence. They are haunted by absences. There is an absence effect of success and failures that play between them. Success and failures are inter-beings. The trace of success abides in every failure and we can transform failure into a stepping stone for success. The same is true of our success. There is a trace of failure hovering over our success. Our success can bring our downfall. We can fail successfully. Such a fall from on high becomes a great downfall. This is why we have to come to terms with the failure in our success and success in our failure. It will make us live with our feet on the ground and not heads in the cloud. We can see failure in our success. Our success can fail us. We can also see success in our failure. Our failures can make us successful. Failure is not against success. It is not siding against success. It is on the side of success. Both failure and success are side by side. They are on the side of each other. They are on the same side.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao