Paul J. Trubetzkoy Writings on Literature Volume Paul de Man Critical Writings, Volume Didier Coste Narrative as Communication Volume

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Paul J. Trubetzkoy Writings on Literature Volume Paul de Man Critical Writings, Volume Didier Coste Narrative as Communication Volume Renato Barilli Rhetoric Volume Theodor W. Adorno Kierkegaard: Construction of the Aesthetic Volume Schelling The Philosophy of Art Volume Louis Marin Portrait of the King Volume Paul Smith Discerning the Subject Volume Philippe Lejeune On Autobiography Volume Copyright by Editions Gallimard.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or other- wise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Blanchot, Maurice. ISBN acid-free paper. ISBN pbk. Literature—History and criticism—Theory, etc. B dc The University of Minnesota is an equal-opportunity educator and employer.

Note xi Foreword. Thought and the Exigency of Discontinuity 3 II. The Most Profound Question 11 1. The Great Refusal 33 1. How to discover the obscure? Knowledge of the Unknown 49 VI. Keeping to Words 59 VII. Interruption as on a Riemann surface 75 IX. A Plural Speech Heraclitus 85 II. Measure, the Suppliant 93 III. Tragic Thought 96 IV. Affirmation desire, affliction 1. The Indestructible 1. Being Jewish 2. Humankind VI. Reflections on Nihilism 1. Nietzsche, today 2.

Crossing the line 3. Nietzsche and fragmentary writing VII. Reflections on Hell 1. Logical victory over "the absurd" 3. You can kill that man 4. The Limit-Experience 1. Affirmation and the passion of negative thought 2. The play of thought 3. Insurrection, the madness of writing X. The Speech of Analysis XI. Everyday Speech XII. Atheism and Writing. Humanism and the Cry 1. The Final Work II. The Fragment Word V.

Vast as the night VII. A rose is a rose. Ars Nova XI. The Athenaeum XII. The Narrative Voice the "he," the neutral XV. The Absence of the Book Why two instances of speech to say the same thing? Speaking is a fine madness; with it man dances over and above all things. Certainly there are always books published in every country and in every language, some of which are taken as critical works or works of reflection, while others bear the title of novel, and others call themselves poems. It is probable that such designations will en- dure, just as there will still be books a long while after the concept of book is exhausted.

Still, this remark must be made: since Mallarme' reducing the latter to a name and the name to a reference point , what has tended to render such distinctions sterile is that by way of them, and more important than they are, there has come to light the experience of something one continues to call, but with a renewed seriousness, and moreover in quota- tion marks, "literature.

I will not say we have gotten past this moment: this would have scarcely any meaning. Whatever we do, whatever we write—and the magnificent surrealist experience has shown this—literature takes possession of it, and we are still in the civilization of the book.

Yet literary work and research—let us keep this qualifying adjective—contribute to an un- settling of the principles and the truths that are sheltered by literature. In correlation with certain possibilities offered by knowledge, by discourse, and by political struggle, this la- bor has caused to emerge, although not for the first time inasmuch as repetition, the eter- nal going over again, is its very origin but rather in a more insistent manner and as affirmed in these works, the question of language; then, through the question of language,.

Yet another word of elucidation or obfuscation. When I speak of "the end of the book," or better "the absence of the book," I do not mean to allude to developments in the audio- visual means of communication with which so many experts are concerned. If one ceased publishing books in favor of communication by voice, image, or machine, this would in no way change the reality of what is called the "book"; on the contrary, language, like speech, would thereby affirm all the more its predominance and its certitude of a possible truth.

In other words, the Book always indicates an order that submits to unity, a system of notions in which are affirmed the primacy of speech over writing, of thought over language, and the promise of a communication that would one day be immediate and transparent.

Now it may be that writing requires the abandonment of all these principles, that is to say, the end and also the coming to completion of everything that guarantees our culture— not so that we might in idyllic fashion turn back, but rather so we might go beyond, that is, to the limit, in order to attempt to break the circle, the circle of circles: the totality of the concepts that founds history, that develops in history, and whose development history is.

Writing, in this sense—in this direction in which it is not possible to maintain oneself alone, or even in the name of all without the tentative advances, the lapses, the turns and detours whose trace the texts here brought together bear and their interest, I believe, lies in this —supposes a radical change of epoch: interruption, death itself— or, to speak hyper- bolically, "the end of history.

Writing thus becomes a terrible responsibility. Invisibly, writing is called upon to undo the discourse in which, however unhappy we believe ourselves to be, we who have it at our disposal remain comfortably installed. From this point of view writing is the greatest violence, for it transgresses the law, every law, and also its own.

A little later, he becomes aware that this conversation will be the last. Hence the kind of benevolence that emerges in their talk. Yet we are to be asked to bring proof of a more perfect benevolence, unknown to us as yet: a benevolence that would not be limited to ourselves. I had something to say to you, but at present I feel so weary that I'm afraid I will be unable to express myself. I was even en- tirely sure of this, and still now I am almost sure of it. Only I had not realized that what weariness makes possible, weariness makes difficult.

He asks him, he would like to ask him: "And if you were not as weary as you say you are, what would you say to me? Then, after what had seemed to him gaiety and is perhaps only liveliness, there follows a silence he must break. He would like to apologize for this pressure he exerts upon him in questioning him against his will, but he thinks he would exert it in any case, whether he question him or not, from the very moment he is present.

A little later, and without raising his head, he asks: "What were we saying? I believe you should rest just now. He is turning toward the shelves where—one notices now—books are arranged in great number, in an or- der perhaps more apparent than rigorous, but which explains no doubt why even someone familiar with the room would not discover them at first sight.

He does not touch a single volume, he stays there, his back turned and utters in a low but distinct voice: "How will we manage to disappear? They are always very conscious of this; it sometimes happens, through guile or through neglect, that they remain far from one another—it is easy, life keeps them apart. And when they stop seeing each other completely, when the city as- signs them rounds of life that do not risk bringing them back together, they would be satisfied, if contentment were not also the manner in which the understanding of this word imposes itself upon them.

They are not satisfied therefore, and this is enough to render vain both distance and forgetting. There is left only the task of announcing it: this is easy. But as this sup- plementary word threatens to upset the equilibrium—and where to find the force to say it?

One writes only what I have just written, finally that is not written either. I was not very sure, finally, of having initiated the conversation my- self. I am grateful. As a matter of fact, it's nothing new; the weariness is not greater, only it has taken another turn.


Infinite Conversation

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Maurice Blanchot : The Infinite Conversation : The Absent Voice

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