Other Writings

One of the puzzles that I faced is that some of my friends have told me that my writings are difficult to understand. Although, sentences and words that I write hang together, somehow they say that it is difficult to decipher the meaning of the texts. This lack of transparency does haunt my writings. This may be because my writings and thinking often belong to another order. They display a form of writings that belong to what we may call heteroclite. They are heterodoxical and often go against the grain of reigning ways of thinking particularly in Goa. Saying this, I do not discredit or rank any modes of our thinking anywhere. It is just an assertion of difference and not one of hierarchy. Writings are often trouble regions. They trouble readers as well as stir thinking as well as action in our society. Some texts secretly undermine language and thereby our thinking. Although words hang together, they trigger different modes of thinking. This is why we secretly resist them and fail to understand the same. Such writings dessicate speech, seem to stop words in their tracks, dissolves our myths and sterilize the lyricism of sentences. This is what we may call other writings. In no way I claim that my writings have reach this point.

To come to these other writings, perhaps we have to come to the father of linguistics , Ferdinand Saussure. Saussure teaches us that the relation between a word and the meaning that it evokes is arbitrary. This means the bond between word ( signifier) and the meaning ( signified) is conventional, circumstantial, and historical. Saussure is not interested in the reference of the word. He just considers language as meaning making or signification system. He perceives words as a network of graded differences. Thus, dog as word does not participate in some magical meaning at the level of concept. It just carries meaning because it is different from words like cat, bear, tiger. It is this differential relations with other words that make them fall in line with the sentence. Thus, the word dog is noun and is different from the verb bark. Therefore, it cannot be replaced by the word bark. Thus, because of this differential relation words follow a grammatical order and we make sense of that order. If we order the words differently without paying heed to differential relations of words , we cannot make sense of them. But we can of course modulate or modify the words. We can transform nouns into verbs or nouns into further abstract nouns. Dog can become a verb dogify and a noun dogification. Let say Peter has dogified his mother. It means that Peter treats his mother like a dog. Besides, we might categorize this kind of ill treatment as dogification. From the commonsense point of view this seems to be anti-grammatical approach. But the fact that it enables us to think with words in a different manner cannot be taken away.

The famous painting of pipe by Margaritte, with a title, ‘this is not a pipe’ tells us that words can do more than just light up the things that they stand for. The title, ‘this is not a pipe’ is correct, because it goes against our common sense and we cannot light a painted pipe and smoke. Hence, it is certainly not a pipe. But this fact is not apparently evident to us. This is what happens to us when we read what I have called other texts. These texts complicate what we may call expressibility of language. We no longer can be certain of Adams right to call names because the same name can deconstruct itself. Words are not duplications or mirror images of reality. We seem to have forgotten that after Adam came the Babel and language is still running under Babel effect. We no longer have a mirror or an onomatopaeaic effect of words. Words can do a lot more.

Words can say that this painted image is not that thing. Such a statements says that space from where one speaks is not same as space from where one looks. The verbal and the visual may not be congruent. Therefore, paintings or even words become endless series of repetitions and variations set free from fixed meaning or theme. Thus, we can have wordplay, humor, interrogative pause etc. Thus, words can rapture our commonsense world. Because of the dynamism of the relation between words and meaning, we have the challenge to come to terms with the death of the author. If the author is dead, it becomes the burden of the reader to unearth meaning from a text. In fact, we seem to have come to the death of a book which also indicates the death of the reader. In fact, people seem to be fast migrating to visual texts. We have come to an oculocentric world. We are fast becoming oculus. In order to read this oculocentric texts, we have the challenge to become anti-Oculus. Like Anti-Oedipus, anti-Oculus has the challenge to deconstruct the visual texts. Margaritte’s painting of the pipe deconstructs its own painting with the help of the title. We have to write from the different space and see from a different space. This will enable us to deconstruct visual texts. We do not have to look for a true pipe in the painting. We have to give up our pipe dream. The fact that drawing is a drawing of a pipe and not a pipe has to be accepted without any question. We have the challenge, therefore, to read the coordinates or alphabets of visual text critically and deconstructively.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao