Beyond saying and unsaying theologies

There is the theology of unsaying. It is concerned with apophasis. It cannot describe or define God. It follows a neti neti logic, which we call via negativa. It is unsaying God. Derrida says that the fact that this unsaying of God regards every predicate that we can use to describe God as inadequate to portray the essence or the hyper essence of God; all unsaying theologies belong to the mode of saying. Therefore, paradoxically, these unsaying theologies are also saying theologies. They are unsaying by saying. They are positing an indescribability at the heart of our God thinking. Therefore, they are unsaying by saying this hyperessence. Strictly speaking, these theologies become theologies of unsaying through the saying/speaking of God in a specific way. This means they are minimalist theologies. They say only God’s hyperessence and unsays other features that positive Kataphatic theologies say.

Can we unsay theology/ unspeak God without any closure of hyperessence? Can there be open unsaying of God that does not also close into atheism? Can we unsay every anthropomorphic trace in God? The apophatic theologies does fully unsay our anthropomorphic theologies. They claim that they try to approach God as God really is. Derrida does not seem to agree. He challenges us to think God beyond these saying and unsaying theologies. Deconstruction takes us in this zone of unsaying all saying theologies both kataphatic and apophatic theologies. Deconstruction saves the name of God from being contaminated by the theologies of saying. It exposes the traces of hyperousiology, Neoplatonic hierarchy and onto-theology hiding inside it. Thus, deconstruction seems to rid us of God for the sake of God. It frees us to use the sign of God more appropriately and less toxically.

The theologies of unsaying do the deconstructive work of calling into question the theologies of saying by only saying/ asserting the hyperessence of God. Hence, we can trace relations of unsaying theologies with deconstruction but we cannot equate the two. At most, they may be analogically related. It is the affirmation of hyperessence / hyperousiology that stands between unsaying theologies and deconstruction. We need non-logocentric saying to unsay onto-theologies of all shades and hues. This non-logocentric saying/ writing accepts the limits of language and strives to overcome the boundaries of comprehension and translatability

One cannot get to the beyond of the saying and unsaying theologies without employing saying/ language. But this saying is unsaying and remains undecidable. It puts all saying and unsaying under erasure. It opens a gap and shows that every saying is always unsaying and every unsaying is saying in different contexts. Hence, the challenge to think saying and unsaying theologies together need to consider thinking without any pre and foreclosures. This breaking of the closures discloses the plurivocity of language and breaks away from the linear, univocal, apparently transparent assumptions about language. This opens our saying and unsaying to polysemy. Hence, God can have several names yet they are not adequate enough to call God. Opening the polysemy of saying and unsaying saves the name of God from the taint of onto-theology as well as hyperessentialism/ hyperousiology. This means we are led to think God beyond the kataphatic and apophatic modes of thinking.

This God can only be a verb and not a noun. God, therefore, resides in the coming. It is incessant coming. God is godding all the way. This coming is not only linear. God comes in all directions. This means Gods coming remains undecidable and cannot be predicted. This takes our saying and unsaying of God into what may be called post-writing that does not fix or close the meaning of what it writes. It is immediately and irreducibly polysemic. This means thinking God seems to withdraw into silence. It is silence that has no words or one that is wordless that keeps the Sovereignty of God. The undeniable alternity/ otherness of God is asserted by silence.

But we do not just remain silent or wordless in front of God. We babble and attempt to speak. But our saying remains inadequate. We remain in the mode of unsaying. Thus silence and speaking of God can be in the mode of hesitant saying, saying with trembling and fear. This means we say and unsay at the same time. We do not allow our saying to reach a semantic closure. Semantic closures objectify God. Our simultaneous saying and unsaying stays open and keep our speaking/ writing in a mode of undecidability and frees it from final closures. It opens us to the voiceless voice of God. Thus, we free God thinking and theologies from shades of anthropocentrism as well as anthropomorphisms.

Saying and unsaying together bring about a rupture that counterbalances as we try to voice the plenitude of God. This thinking is affirmative. It denegates the unsaying pole of our thought and bars the two poles of saying and unsaying from operating as binaries. This means denegation brings about what may be called dedialecticism that sets both saying and unsaying from the chains of dialectical thought. This brings our saying and the unsaying into a non-dialectical mode of thinking. This means having exhausted the saying and unsaying theologies, the thinking together of the saying and unsaying theologies, we are led to think saying and unsaying free from dialectical pulsations.

Thus, the denegation of the unsaying allows complete alterity of God to sip into our saying and unsaying. It brings us into the zone of the impossible. Here we can say without saying. Our saying is a hesitant saying. It is not an apodictic arrogance. It is characterized by the humility of waiting for the God that comes in his coming. This is why our saying and unsaying God remain in post-writing that is unbound by logo-centric/ present-centric modes of thinking and writing. The dialectics of saying and unsaying is monolingual. Hence, we have to enter the dialogical. By juxtaposing saying and unsaying, by banning dialecticism through denegation of the unsaying, we have entered post-writing that embraces plurivocity. This form of writing keeps our thinking, saying and unsaying in a performative mode never allowing the meaning that it provokes to come to comfortable closure.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao