Circumfession

May 1, 2010


that’s what my readers won’t have known about me, the comma of my breathing henceforward, without continuity but without a break, the changed time of my writing, graphic writing, through having lost its interrupted verticality, almost with every letter, to be bound better and better but be read less and less well over almost twenty years, like my religion about which nobody understands anything, any more than does my mother who asked other people a while ago, not daring to talk to me about it, if I still believer in God, nutrierat filios totiens eos parturiens, quotiens abs te deuiare cernebat [“She had brought up her children, being in labor with them each time she saw them wandering away from Thee” Augustine’s Confessions IX, ix, 22], but she must have known that the constancy of God in my life is called by other names, so that i quite rightly pass for an atheist, the omnipresence to me of what I call God in my absolved, absolutely private language being neither that of an eyewitness nor that of a voice doing anything other than talking to me without saying anything, nor a transcendent law or an immanent schechina [divine presence/spirit, grammatically feminine], that feminine figure of a Yahweh who remains so strange and so familiar to me, but the secret I am excluded from, when the secret consists in the fact that you are held to secrecy by those who know your secret, how many are there, and do not dare admit to you that this is no longer a secret for them, that they share with you the open secret, letting you reckon that they know without saying, and, from that point on, what you have neither the right nor the strength to confess, it is just as useless to make it known, to hand it over to this public notoriety you are the first and only one to be excluded from, properly theological hypothesis of a blank sacrifice sending the bidding up to infinity, God coming to circulate among the unavowables, unavowable as he remains himself, like a son not bearing my name, like a son not bearing his name, like a son not bearing a name, and if, to give rise to this beyond of the name, in view and by reason of this unacceptable appellation of self for my mother has become silenced without dying, I write that there is too much love in my life, emphasizing too much, the better and the worse, that would be true, love will have got the better of me, my faithfulness stands any test, I am faithful even to the test that does harm, to my euthanasias.-Jacques Derrida in Jacques Derrida

Update:
Callid has shared a wonderful video of Caputo interviewing Derrida in 2002 about this very text and Derrida’s wording of “rightly passing for an atheist”.

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4 Responses to “Circumfession”

  1. stguinness Says:

    I’m just going to confess right now: I didn’t really follow that, but I know the start of that quote disgusted me.

    • cmoody91 Says:

      Yeah, it’s meant to be pretty disgusting.. It’s hard to follow if you haven’t read the entirety of the Circumfessions or have some sort of background in Derrida, but the part about his relation to god is haunting to me.. You should check out some of Caputo’s work on Derrida (Prayers and Tears, What Would Jesus Deconstruct) it’s good stuff!

    • cmoody91 Says:

      Thanks! I’ll check that out. I’m on a Derrida kick this past couple of weeks, been listening to a bunch of Caputo’s lectures and working my way back through reopening the wound that is the Circumfessions.


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