(Un)Thinking the Impossible

Spoken words carry an apriori promise. The moment we open our mouth to speak we are in the promise. Thus when we speak there is ‘believe me in play’. Jacques Derrida calls it a messianic apriori. But this promise is never fully realised. It is always on the arrival. Somehow our speaking is marked by the impossible. It puts our speaking under erasure. Somehow, we are marked by the desire of the impossible. Derrida says the deconstruction captures this passion for the impossible by running against the limits of what can never be present. The desire for the impossible is a rebellious desire for transgression. It’s a desire to go where we cannot go. But it is always on the go never arriving at its destination, thus remaining impossible. It is always arriving but never reaching its final point of rest. It cannot reach the plenitude or fullness but always remains in a mode of arrival to it. It is the impossible that is the condition of possibility of the possible. It is part of the deferral of everything.

We have to accept that our spoken and written words cannot reach the fullness of meaning. There is always the unsaid in all that is said. This means words fail to fully capture reality. The reality remains the wholly other. This calls us to be humble and accept the mystery of reality. But our hunger for mastery forgets this aporia that our spoken and written words are castrated. They cannot fully represent reality. They cannot fully inscribe meaning within them. They are haunted and are always in the promise of arrival. This humble acceptance of the mystery is needed otherwise we convert our present into the form of messianic time trying to cut to size everything that we think has faltered/ erred away from what we deem as their true destinies. This means we construct our present as the straight gate through which the messiah can enter and fix the impasse. We deem ourselves as carrying forward the noble messianic task of ordering things in the scheme of destinies that we decide as ordained for everything and everyone. The messianic arrest of time thus leads to the messianic arrest of thought and we order everything in the world to fit the scheme we this the only true state of affairs.

We have to set the present free from the mode of thinking it as
a messianic time. The world has already witnessed Nazi crimes. But everyone seems to refuse to learn. Conversion of the present into messianic time puts us locked into the past present, now present and the future present. it puts our time into a messianic arrest. It completes the hermeneutical circle that locks us away from the real past, real present and the coming of a real future. We think we perform the messianic task by giving a past that we construct as lost or erred a shape that we consider as what it needs to be true past. Thus, to us past is counterfeit. We think that it has gone out of joint and taken it upon us to put it right. Hence, we see the present and the future as a fulfilment of what may be seen as a failed promise of the past. Hence, we end up giving the future to an imagined past closing other possible destinies. the messianic arrest of time and thought thus reaches full circle.

The growth of the new communication technologies has hastened this enslavement of the self to the past present, now present and future present where the now present is the central gravitating point. The messianic task associated with messianic time is reinforced by a kind of a sense of a demand for justice. This is why one takes upon himself or herself to offer a gift of expenditure without any selfish return. Charged with messianic hope one is ready to do anything that takes to deliver what he/she deems as justice. Terror and several shades of identity politics work with this logic.

To come out of these traps, we need the consideration of thinking of the impossible. We have therefore to free ourselves from many idols of the present. We don’t have to install the golden calf in some imagined past and consider the present as a alter and worship it so as to join the disjointed dots of the past into the present and usher a future of that past. Time is flow and we do not have to arrest its flow or play or dance but have to come to stay with its dance and the play. We do not have to close the play and flow. we do not need a messianic arrest or a golden calf to be installed in a past to stop this flow. The flow keeps us in the realm of coming to be. When we consider being in the play, dance or flow, we let open the binary distinction between the possible and impossible. This makes the possible impossible and impossible possible. Indeed the possibility or possibilizing of the impossibility and the impossibilizing of possibility are made manifest. Thus, Derrida says that the impossible is going to become possible in a more radical sense wherein the impossible as impossible is possible. The same way there is the impossible is possible in such a way that it is impossible to stop/ plug the possible. Thus there is possibility and impossibility in the possible and the impossible.

The thinking of the impossible as Derrida does assists us to defrost the frozen thinking of the past that we imagine as faltered/ erred away from its destinies and hence inscribe into present and future the possibilities of its fulfilment. This de-freezing of a frozen past can derail our thinking only in terms of past present, now present and the future present and bring our experience of temporality under erasure where we can view the past as past, present as present and future as future freed from superimposed destinies over temporalities. Our temporalities when framed into such destinies and teleologies, become identified as someone’s pasts, someone’s present and someone’s future and therefore are inscribed into the calculus of loss that sets in a dynamism of recovery through what we called the appropriation of the messianic task. We have to free this messianic of our time ( past, present and the future). Thinking the impossible provides us with a way of divesting and squeezing out this destiny tainted past, present and future and enable us to open the road for a new way of being radically open to the past, present and the future so that we can live in the present without the burden of the past but being freed from it enabled to reach out to every human, particularly one in need and shape a harmonious present and future for all. We need this freedom to the experience of time as we are today imprisoned by a time that has become accelerated and only revolves in now on the wings of new technologies of communication. Time has become one-dimensional past present, present now and the future present. We have to bring all temporalities under erasure to enable us to craft in freedom destinies of emancipation. We have to free ourselves from the messianic arrest of time, thought and life,

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao