Thursday, March 6, 2014

Some of Blanchot's premises?

At the moment I'm about midway through a first attempt at Blanchot's marvelous and endlessly perplexing The Space of Literature (in Ann Smock's translation; it is my first Blanchot), and I feel that it might now be time, as I struggle with his investigation of Mallarmé's Igitur ("The Igitur Experience", he calls it) to pause and try to assess what I've gleaned thus far. I realize that trying to "nail down" Blanchot's ideas is a betrayal of those very ideas, but, y'know, you go to reading with the brain you have, not the brain you might want or wish to have at a later time; and the brain I have needs to do this kind of thing from time to time or else it will never work on transforming itself into the brain I might want or wish to have. So with that said, quickly, three things I think Blanchot is, maybe, on about:
  1. Language is strange because though it seems to seek to "represent" things through words, the words are not those things; thus what language represents instead is the absence of those things--and in some sense words function to make that absence real. (Whatever "real" means.)
  2. Written language in particular is strange because language is (originally? fundamentally?) a spoken phenomenon, but writing is speech without a speaker; it never begins and never ends because it is not spoken, it is simply there (in the pages of the book, for example, all of which coexist simultaneously, do not leap into existence as one turns the pages).
  3. Death is strange because it is the one thing everyone can be certain of, but we can never be certain of this certainty--because death is the one experience that we can never experience; it always happens only to someone else, or to us only some other time.
These things, I think, are for Blanchot interconnected, and I feel that I am perhaps beginning mistily to see the connections...

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