My friend Mark had a great comment on testimony/ counter-testimony and the "double blind" of a Marxist informed hermeneutic. I was writing earlier that "utterance" as "world making" does not sufficiently account for the pre-verbal or the elaboration practice of "world making." Here are Mark's thoughts...
According to John McClure, Brueggemann’s goal of forming a particularidentity for a community of exiles is already a surrender to the oppressive center that sustains itself through the corruption of all language into self-serving searches for security. The resistance language of Brueggemann’s testimony becomes a necessary part of the “double-bind” in which the center needs the margins to exist...
If we changed the subject, turned our focus from a language created reality and instead turned to the other, do we begin to escape that double bind? I think this is where Anna’s understanding of testimony undergirded by Chopp’s “open sign” points us forward. Instead of countertestimony that in the end props up the hegemony, the Word creates a new space of openness that refuses to be caught within the double bind. In this openness that refuses reduction, there is no longer the center and the margins, just the other. In this space, all our labels that locate “us” are dropped and a new language that transcends the bind is engaged, what McClure calls a language of love.
In this space, there is no closure. No moves to consensus, no focus on identity. And it is here where I think your thought about art can really help us. There is something about art that resists closure, resists being identified and systematized. Something about art that defers meaning.
I agree with McClure's critique of Brueggemann's Marxist informed "counter-testimony" project with a few objections.
'You Got Served: being addressed is an artistic and not simply verbal exchange
One, Brueggemann seems to present the community as texted as well, not simply text-ers. In this sense the the cannon then operates as a more than egalitarian testimony (requiring the polarity you mention) but a new world, one created by Yahweh who refuses the domestication of either or any ideology that would use God as "puppet." Old orientation - disorientation - new orientation happens the system as a whole.
Second, Brueggemann's later work moves beyond Prophet Imagination (Marxism), cadences from home(exile), toward a sabatarianism of texting (p136-140 Ichabod Toward Home). For a moment he oppens the door for pre-text when he unpacks holy Saturday as a time when all our texting is paused and either the Father self-gives (a la Von Balthazar) or the community must play and imagine (pre-texting a la Steiner) or both. In Ichabod Toward Home, Brueggemann presents a place for the apophatic and imagination (incubation-insight-evaluation) that, I suggest, is a departure from his prior socialogially centered criticisms. He just has not closed the loop to see art's value in witness.
The hard part here is the Barthian move to Word to define the reformed experience of Christ-revealed through the text seems to require we place art within word. This deeply limits our ability to take seriously our practices in light of the incarnation (here is some of the genius of Newbiging's Congregation as herminuetic of the gospel- it created a way forward incarnationally). If words are, however, a part of art, then solo-scriptura must make it past Wietgenstien's "word games" another way... I'm not sure how, yet...
Where is the other?: in the text we have and coming from the future
But I am curious about the center-margin debate and have been thinking about that myself...
Is the place of "no margin or center" simply a recreation of an ontological "outside" system. A re-Cartetianism? I would love a bit more on Chopp, I'm not familiar with him yet (I'll ask Anna Carter Florence too). At the core I think the art metaphor unpacks the dichotomy between narrative and practice, regardless of sociological bent. "The art of Church" metaphor presses us closer to a Husserl phenomenology where our words do interact within the kingdom as creative parts of a whole, they are a part of the system here. ie: This blog is not just an idea, but the floating pixels connect to our choices and habits and move space, as it were. My blogg is an extension of my domain (yikes).
And so, to address the objectivity question I am playing around a with a threefold wholism (I'm sure there's a better word here but i am working my damnedest to avoid "Trinity" by default- since that is not my point, yet) drawn from narrative theology. From Biblical texts we encounter stories in which the actor is pressed to narrate, and the narrator is percieved by a certain audience as author, and the tangle is inescapable almost taken for granted (God's redemptive word-game, if you will). In the counter-testimony sense, Ruth the Moabite retells Israel's story as her own, and the actor becomes a narrator. Jeremiah's Israel becomes the author of Babylon's city. The Good Samaritan becomes the narrator of Israel's story of neighboring... The son of God is send, not only as actor of the messianic texts, but actor of the realized kingdom, narrating the nexus... not only that but he authored new narratives (why do you say I don not have th power to forgive sins?) and authorized the authority of new authors (as the father has sent me so I send you, whatsover you forgive will be forgiven)...
Do we ever address anyone, why?
In this, because of the collapse of narrative and practice plus the missiological view of Jesus' Incarnation as an interruptive re-texting event ( limit experience -Ricoeur), the called community are those called to be:
1. actors sent to fulfill the text of our Author,
2. narrators, retexting ourself as a community organized by the polity of the text (Yoder)
3. and authors, responding to our contextually as makers of peace, forgiveness, and justice as those who, like Abraham, become the Righteousness of God (Pilgrim people with an eschatological end) in our texted world.
I think this gives back to the interpretive community an antidote to margin-center priocupations: the place of "subjectivity and the apophatic". Of course this includes the "other." And yet does so without setting up an inside-outside system. Instead with the perspectives of church as artwork, artist, and currator of God's Art, we must now also face our responsibility to "make" new orientations accounting for both margins (of all socialogical sorts) and the Other met in the dis-orientation.
While the "Elijah chair" of otherness brings subjectivity into the room, it appears to me, to create a "non-space" an "ontological outside" that betrays the incarnation. The incarnation, however, bring practice and narrative together, brings the kingdom of God into the room as a partner to join in and to be addressed by. To realize and to miss. My current take on this otherness approach is that it is hard to land missiologically with it (to give shape to our art).
I could have missed Mark's point entirely so come back at me.