Reading to Come and Readers to Come

Nietzsche saw Plato’s advocacy of the eternal world as his weakness. He thought it was way of escaping the real world that was constantly changing. This is why Nietzsche affirms the flux of changing world and upholds becoming. May be this is why we can also read the madman passage in Gay Science where he announces the death of God as the death of the unchanging eternal world of Plato. The immutable, perfect world of Plato demanded a perfect and unchanging God whose death was announced by Nietzsche’s madman. The death of God was not simply a religious event for Nietzsche . It was the death of all values, meaning and truth too. It was the birth of nihilism.

Without God, we are then left only with becoming. All that was culturally constructed and thought to be lasting came collapsing down with the declaration of the death of God. All meaning and values got emptied from the signs. The empty signifier is the face of nothingness that arrives in the power what is proclaimed as the death of God. It is not really the death of a real God. It was a death of God that came to be constructed in the West. It proclaim the death of all that the west held sacred. It inaugurated what we call nihilism.

Hence, we have to ask: How do we read after Nihilism? How are we to read the signs that have become dried up of their meaning and signification. Ocean of the meaning has become dry. We have drunk up the sea. We are facing nothingness. We are just left with the empty signifiers. The signified is no longer associating with the signifier. All we have is a dynamic play of signifiers. There is no point de capiton where the chain of signifiers buttons up to some meaning or a thing in the world. With the devaluation of God, the highest value, all other values and signs got punctured and displaced. Nihilism became our reality.

But to Nietzsche nihilism is not an end of the road. He invites us to the revaluation of the empty signs. We can re-semiotize the signs and bring about a new way of seeing the world. This means Nietzsche’s nihilism is not final. It becomes an opportunity belong to the real flux of the world with courage. This means reading, therefore, belongs to the condition of change. The meaning of the text is not fixed within the text. It is still to come. It is coming in the reading. It remains in the flux and is becoming and as one reads meaning arrives. It almost never arrives. It is always delayed and is different. Such a reading is a reading to come. Such readers are also always on the arrival. They are always on the arrival never really reaching their destination. Thus, when Nietzsche proclaimed the death of God, he also proclaimed the death of a static reader and static singular meaning. After Nietzsche’s death of God, we have to deal with becoming world of flux and the coming world of meaning.

No reading can exhaust the meaning of a text. No meaning can empty the text or lead the text to its closure. Text always remains open ever ready to give new meaning. On the onset of nihilism, Nietzsche advocates art and creativity. He thinks art and creativity is in alignment with the becoming of the world. Creative reading can be artistic. Text is also in dynamic free play of the signifiers. It is for us to creatively down load meaning from the text. The meaning can never ever really fully exhausted. The dance of the signifiers of the text can produce a free play of the signified each never really reaching a point of rest. Decoding the meaning of the text unleashes the will to power of the reader truly in Nietzschean sense. But the reader is in transition. There are more readers to come and there is more meaning to come.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao