Saturday, 25 July 2009

Writing As Exposure

"Schreiben als Form des Gebets" – there is always someone to read you better than you do. Why else would you write, anyway?

An oblique reference to St. Augustine.

* * *
An oblique reference, mutatis mutandis, to Augustine's question "Why we confess what God already knows," cur confitemur deo scienti.

Cur confitemur deo scienti, the phrase cited by Derrida in his Circonfession, is the title added to The Confessions, Book XI, Chapter I:
XI.I. Cur confitemur deo scienti.

Numquid, domine, cum tua sit aeternitas, ignoras, quae tibi dico, aut ad tempus vides quod fit in tempore? Cur ergo tibi tot rerum narrationes digero? Non utique ut per me noveris ea, sed affectum meum excito in te et eorum, qui haec legunt, ut dicamus omnes: magnus dominus et laudabilis valde. Iam dixi et dicam: amore amoris tui facio istuc. Nam et oramus, et tamen veritas ait: Novit pater vester quid vobis opus sit, priusquam petatis ab eo. Affectum ergo nostrum patefacimus in te confitendo tibi miserias nostras et misericordias tuas super nos, ut liberes nos omnino, quoniam coepisti, ut desinamus esse miseri in nobis et beatificemur in te, quoniam vocasti nos, ut simus pauperes spiritu et mites et lugentes et esurientes ac sitientes iustitiam et misericordes et mundicordes et pacifici. Ecce narravi tibi multa, quae potui et quae volui, quoniam tu prior voluisti, ut confiterer tibi, domino deo meo, quoniam bonus es, quoniam in saeculum misericordia tua.

Trans. Edward P. Pusey:

Lord, since eternity is Thine, art Thou ignorant of what I say to Thee? or dost Thou see in time, what passeth in time? Why then do I lay in order before Thee so many relations? Not, of a truth, that Thou mightest learn them through me, but to stir up mine own and my readers’ devotions towards Thee, that we may all say, Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised. I have said already; and again will say, for love of Thy love do I this. For we pray also, and yet Truth hath laid, Your Father knoweth what you have need of, before you ask. It is then our affections which we lay open unto Thee, confessing our own miseries, and Thy mercies upon us, that Thou mayest free us wholly, since Thou hast begun, that we may cease to be wretched in ourselves, and be blessed in Thee; seeing Thou hast called us, to become poor in spirit, and meek, and mourners, and hungering and athirst after righteousness, and merciful, and pure in heart, and peace-makers. See, I have told Thee many things, as I could and as I would, because Thou first wouldest that I should confess unto Thee, my Lord God. For Thou art good, for Thy mercy endureth for ever.
See also Book X, Ch. 2:
Neque enim dico recti aliquid hominibus, quod non a me tu prius audieris, aut etiam tu aliquid tale audis a me, quod non mihi tu prius dixeris.

Trans. Edward P. Pusey:

For neither do I utter any thing right unto men, which Thou hast not before heard from me; nor dost Thou hear any such thing from me, which Thou hast not first said unto me.

No comments: