Prolonged

You, ordeal of writing, I prolong by putting off, put off by prolonging.

I began once, started off, squared up to the impediments, and like reaching through glass buried my hand into your heart of gold cinders. Poetry was the blood ocean, but that is not why I reached. One reaches down to think, to allow the other in its singular occurrence to come. Thus the avoidance: every mark means an encounter of the self with the unexpected, with the inappropriable, with what interrupts the self and disjoins it from itself; wounds it, “gives it a cut to itself.”

This strike down of the penman by the pen is interminable. The break that can’t be spoken speech calls for. Whoever suffers it is not one. “It just exists, we don’t think it out, we speak the failure of trying to speak it, we speak what is coming in the unworkable instant.”

–What it takes is a faith in the end coming now in the different beginning, in the form through which passes the irruptive force or power of “eternal life”–that which is not mine, was never mine, and if mine, is only mine in the other’s, mine shared with what is not my life, such that “me,” “I,” am pushed all the way to the other side of life, of myself, of the power that is the self of life, into the end, the finalized expropriation, which comes this split second in coming imminently, this death that I am to be.

“To be”: this death that I am and will be. It is the proximity of justice, running with a wild head off.

You, gasping idiodyssey of writing…

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Phrase of Promise

An honest phrase embarrasses because it reveals a ghost: the honest one at the time may not recognize himself in his own phrase afterwards, having had more time to go honest, and therefore to negate what last he’d said. Not because he means to take it back, but because the time between has urged him elsewhere, to a new enactment of the promise, to bring it to bear again where it can never find its bearings, can never bear itself. But then his prior promise–his prior thought–never ceases to haunt him with its wrongness, asks him ever after what it means. Add that there is no evidence of its enactment–not even yet–and the subject of the promise finds himself confounded, indirected: the promise is broken, and so must be broken, in order to be kept,  safe but broken.

As if only broken was the promise listened to, where the listening couldn’t hear a voice, and injury was the rule. What’s furthest inside that act then becomes less hidden, while the ability to phrase what is promised becomes minimal–not because the language becomes less accurate, but because it has to cast aside its shield of honesty. (To the point that the one who speaks the thing only will have spoken it, again is ghost; and if it speaks now, it does so only as a haunting of the present by a time outside it, absolutely so, to the point of being untouchable by anyone anymore, save in the slim access of the instant.)

Such is why discourse must be construed as the residue of an act, where the sum of spoken phrases is like a film of what the act promised. The latter of course cannot be more precise than that; there is no more unity to a body of phrases than there is to a real one. The phrase is the very location of its shattering, the promise the stretch of a skeleton–an image of death’s presence in the promise making clear: there is no image of it, no saying of the act, no more than the act has an end outside its promise(1). The phrase shows every inscription (every consequential act, every trace) to be at odds with the reality to be written, the reality to be acted upon. Time remains out of joint– the time of the act and the promise, and the time of its enactment in the “real.”

Because what is promised can’t be determined. It can never be said to have been phrased, to have been acted out. One can only make it again–making it a phrase to be shared, received, rephrased, made out.

Nothing of the shared sense craved or felt in this rift fits into any cognition without loss, since the craved sense is the very one that falls through. The phrase of promise is there to interrupt cognition’s course and strike across meaning’s banner–making meaning the shared act it always is, if it is. Non-knowledge does not sanction ignorance; it is simply an orientation to the fact of nothing revealed–that we cannot know or inscribe in any fashion: the relation to the world that we are and act as possible (indeed, right where we are not able to)–where we were nothing and yet did not go away, having never arrived at all yet.

The act that lives on as interruption, as the promise of interruption, being “of” interruption: the communist Idea. It lives on, not because it took effect with words or without them, not because they affected reality this way or that, but because of how word and act were one in the promise, and because the promise promises more than past action: it promises us that it has not yet been.  What the words, flat and dead, promised, had to be interrupted by the promise itself, had to remain open there, interrupted, enacted outside whatever present, being present only when the promise was refreshed, when the act was re-enacted, that is, when the Idea was re-affirmed and the promise “kept.”

Promised, yes, in terms of an Idea (“common”), but an idea that is an action, a promise where remembrance and reenactment are one. The promise is fulfilled by promising itself again, by dwelling in the power to promise. One can only try to be faithful to this point of contact, for every phrase is potentially “unfaithful.” But the leap required to like the situation to the promise, at every moment, is so great, so fleeting, that it is impossible to say when the leap began or where it led to. And we have no power to make that leap; we can only promise. The burden rests on the judge who can only judge his own judgments, since there he judges his own relation to himself, to the blip that he is, as promised: to what extent am I what I am? to what extent am I the opened other?

The point of contact will have been there, where the point collapses in a night of promising words. The traces of the contact will not adequate what the act was in it, what its decision was made of or for. But reality doesn’t exhaust the decision, no more than the outcome validates the promise. Nothing can erase what’s promised. Existence makes it possible again that the promise will have been opened to, and it does so promising itself again and again, inheriting all the old promises and choosing among them, undoing some and saving others–undergoing the interruption it’s devoted to, in the real of an instant that escapes.

What is there in the phrase of a promise or in an honest act (whatever they may be) cannot ever be whittled away. Although the phrase captures the promised act in a state that comes out past, skeletal, irrelevant, for the very same reason the phrase–emptied of everything–retains the one thing it aimed to retain: not its meaning, but its meaning to mean, even in meaning to mean nothing at all, or even: its joy at meaning (nothing), its joy at sharing sense; its joy at keeping the promise to act in common, exposed; its joy at thinking “us.” Because the interruption of the “proper” lies at the heart of the act, it is fundamental to the commons that its Idea remain promise; and it is joy to the extent that the promise happen, in the absence of anything common but the swirl of acts and phrases.

That such joy is not anyone’s possession (this is an Idea of the commons), that it does not lie on the side of language, reality, identity, or meaning, cannot in fact be established, is exactly what the phrase of promise is destined to prove.

Note:

(1)  Or rather, the only image of the promise is at the same time an image of “death”: of a sudden halt, where cognition tips over into what can only be called an impossible feeling of the commons (in the same way that, for the subject of psychoanalysis, the real is the impossible); an image wherein the intellectual operation, in a sense, completes itself, while returning to an origin point that lies outside it, that comes later in its very completion and coming-to-a-close. A dialectical image, wherein both the movement and the stilling of thought are “filmed,” that is, “crystallized” into a monad (a surface reflecting the “real”). In the structure of such an image, one recognizes a sign of a messianic halting of happening [das Zeichen einer messianischen Stillstellung des Geschehens]. This “sign” could, perhaps, be understood along the lines of Kant’s Geschichtszeichen, as Lyotard describes it, an “interfaculty point of passage,”

…that does not take place, that is in the course of coming to pass, and its course, its motion, is a kind of agitation in place, within the impasse of incommensurability, over the abyss, a ‘vibration’ as Kant writes, that is, “a rapidly alternating repulsion from and attraction to one and the same object.” (Enthusiasm, p 32)

Such an image–sign, form, phrase–would be part of a series of passages that never became any more possible, remained impossible; they would give an illusion of diachrony to what could properly only be felt “synchronous,” namely, this halting of happening: the Raum of another time, a paused time, a “dead time”: time without work proper, a time to undo works, a time to rethink the promise.

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Just Listening

A glance back at an old post has caused me to take up a question that drives to the heart of writing and identity once again; to ask it, however, I have to go back to the roots of my own engagement, and reflect my current concern here upon the mirror of concerns past.

When I was in college I became interested in the question of “listening,” in relation to both “religious callings” and “poetic dictation” (“Pneumatology as Listening” was the name of my major). In some authors, listening meant something like tuning in to the present, into an awareness of God’s voice in reality, of how the divine is “speaking” to humanity. In others, what was at stake was something more like “literature.” But they both shared what quickly became for me the question of the other. The question of listening is a question about the outside, the unfamiliar, the strange and foreign–even if this “outside” seems located in my very breast and head. Listening concerns receptivity to the other-than-self, to that which exceeds the ego and all its representations. In its most refined forms, it implies becoming an antennae for the invisible, a microphone for the unsaid–or to put it more religiously-poetically: to feel the spirit in the breath, to hear God speak in presence.

For me, the difference between a religious vocation and a writing practice could never be decided out-and-out: both had too much to do with this question of the other, and, in my experience at least, the other does not allow us to choose one way or the other. But they both also had ways, it felt, of repressing or sidestepping the purity of listening itself. The choice for religion puffed up “one’s own being”; the choice for writing, “one’s own voice.” They both over-wrote the listening, dramatizing it into an “ordeal” (I’ve done my share of this…), whether it be a spiritual one, waiting on God’s voice, a literary one, waiting on “inspiration,” or some other mix of amplification disorders and fuzzy signals. (I dispense with the objection that writing is not waiting but work. It’s true, but it is just as true in spirituality. As much as either works, it waits. There is a kinship between the artistic Nulla dies sine linea (no day without a line drawn) and the idea of “praying without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17): both imply applying oneself to a failure of representation to establish the connection between self and other. Both recognize that any sure link is impossible, that love demands work (writing, prayer), demands erasure and spacing: to make room in oneself for what is not one, not “one’s own,” to act instead as a medium for something “excessive,” however unknown.)

It was not a question of the religious or aesthetic interpretation of this phenomenon, but what made it possible. Now, it became clear that every writer had his or her own way of making this clear, and this “way” was the work itself. The relation to the other is never incidental to the identity of the text–no less than to that of a person–because it makes it possible. And yet, among them all one found certain overlapping “concerns”; what Paul called kenosis and Keats negative capability: something like an emptying of the self for the sake of letting “in” the other in, for letting something pass through beyond the filters of cognition. The glorification accorded to authors seemed to mimic that once accorded to Jesus: one is glorified to the extent that one empties oneself to be refilled by otherness. Praise went to those “animated” by the Outside, those passive passionates, and those who practiced best were the saints and poets for whom practicing meant “death.” Something spoke through them at the exit of themselves, and while it was obviously in no way the same “Outside” calling and shaping them all, it was clear that in every case a receptive “being” was called to receive something that was not and could not ever be its own. (I put “being” in quotes because ultimately it isn’t even that clear.)

Soon, reading took on another function. It was no longer to understand the author’s ideas, to track concepts, to enjoy styles or verses, or even to be inspired by the voice through the intermediary of the text. I no longer heard an author’s voice but simply some relation to an outside, reflected in words. It was that other that I longed to hear, that other other. The decisive question became: How much power does the author imagine they have over it? How far do they go in the direction of powerlessness before it? How much do they pull back and reinstate, for themselves, a power? Should we interpret this grab as a defensive reaction to a lack of it? And what about those who go the furthest into that lack?

These are the questions that drive to the heart of writing and identity–to the heart of any listener. What power do we have over listening? What do we attribute to ourselves of what we hear, what do we attribute to otherness? How do we make this attribution, what kind of negotiations do we make? It is undeniable that everyone navigates this question, because the outside always insists. But so do we, however uncertainly. What can we tell from this friction–from the insistence of an identity rustled through by otherness, by language and this outside that resists it?

Here is the spectrum I have in mind to help us consider all this: it stretches from a total appropriation of and identification with the Power that fills (thus endowing it with being), to the powerlessness that results from a total incapacity, dispossession or non-hearing (thus losing of every notion of the Powers). We always begin from zero, but we all people the void in differing ways (all imaginary, if we ask Simone Weil), according to the different ways we “find ourselves” capable or incapable of doing so. How does one relate to one’s own “power”? Does one comprehend it as one’s own? Does one comprehend it as a power at all? How does one consider “what one can”?

I have–perhaps unfairly–taken for granted that the division between religious calling and poetic dictation was superficial, that there was always something of the one in the other because both have to do with listening. The decisive factor turns out not to be what the author professes in terms of themselves, their own lives, their beliefs, or what they think they are doing, but their relation to the outside: their relation to their own blindness. Who takes care of this blindness and how? Who gives this lack, this darkness,  its due? And what would it mean to? (Perhaps it would lead us to not say anything. Perhaps it would lead us to Derrida’s expression: pardon de ne pas vouloir dire, sorry for not meaning…)

Our culminating question is a simple one: how presumptuous is our author? Upon affirming that there is nothing to hold on to, how far does one go in trying to hold on to something? A question of conscience: what is the justice of the host? It is here that writing and prayer are irreversibly merged.

My hope here has been to suggest that there is a continuum between a total presumption and a total lack of one. The one fills up the lack of power with the radiance of a full, sagely voice, a divine presence which it hears intimately and speaks empowered; the other honors a lack of power through the pain of waiting and listening and hearing nothing to be heard. In my eyes, that could be a criterion of justice, if only it weren’t the ultimate presumption to think that one knew how to tell it. And yet we must try to tell it, however impossible. And we can tell the justice of something by how the other was dealt with or left out of the deal–that being what the thing, it being only a host. A host for what? The other.

And now is where we have to say: an other that may not be. The other is never there like something to grab hold of, to see or to hear. The other that we listen for is not known as present. Nothing is ever there to guarantee it. Otherwise, it would not be other.

And so, to cut to my tentative hypothesis: to presume that one is listening in for the Voice of Being, that one would have a direct connection with God or the Law, with the script of History or with the will of the Muse–all this is much too much for the other, over-writes everything and makes way for every injustice. This implies believing in the being of books and authors. To do so, to presume any being whatsoever, does not automatically make one a bad host (we all do it, obviously); but it does show a kind of blindness to being blind. It covers up the dissymmetry between the call and the one called, forces too much about the relation, such that even to “bear witness” risks corrupting the witnessing, risks sullying it with intentionality, identity, argument–presumptions to be, to be “in the know.”

Of course, to root the question in “one’s own being” is not surprising: how could I listen if I were not there? How could I keep from saying, “Here I am”? How could we, waiting, not think we were waiting on the Voice of Being? How could we, responding, not think we responded with “our own voice”?

And yet, if we look closely, it has never been that simple. Perhaps concerns about “being” do not guide but shipwreck listening. Perhaps it marks a failure to listen, a will to forget right where one appoints oneself the bearer of Remembrance. Perhaps prophetic hearing always gets lost in professing what’s been Heard, gets lost giving it substance or power. Who would write without this illusion? And yet what great waiting is not foregone when we fall prey to it! What an injustice to stay hush about the silence, the lack and the uncertainty over what escapes things and words and human categories, to say nothing of the anxiety that nothing may happen, that one may very well be waiting on what will never be there–save in the obligation to listen, in the listening itself.

To ask how presumptuous an author is, is to ask what they presume and presume to be. We are all presumptuous, then. Something always comes to compensate for the hole in hearing; in a way, it is the writing itself. What we have here is a kind of indebtedness that can never be remissed; or as in Kafka’s story, a law of listening where no law is ever given. A door of listening has been opened for you alone; only when you have heard everything that there is for you to hear will it close. And so there is no way to get your way past its very opening–listening, no doubt silently, or in prayer.

Let me quickly return to the old post mentioned initially, itself a good example of unjust presumptuousness, Adi Da and the ‘Radical’ Truth. Recalling it sparked a funny thought–that Adi Da’s and Heidegger’s discourse are not so far apart, precisely in connection with their “presumption of being.” My reference above to “listening to the Voice of Being” was meant to call up Heidegger along with the whole metaphysics of the voice; but it struck me as best illustrated by Adi Da’s hyperbole, representative for many forms of “speaking as the enlightened.” I quote only a small passage from his spiritual autobiography, The Knee of Listening:

In every apparent conditional state, I remain Aware at the Free “Point” in the bodily apparent heart, unbounded in the right side– non-separate and indivisible. Prior to every apparent conditional state, I remain As the One and Only and inherently indivisible Conscious Light, always already above and beyond all-and-All (and As That in and of Which all-and-All potentially arises). Everything only appears to me– and I remain As I Am. There is no end to This.

I do wonder what Heidegger would have thought of a text like this! which not only claims to hear the Voice of Reality but to speak it, to Be the speaking of It, to be at one with the destiny of Consciousness. Here we have someone who burst rights past the door of the law and melts without residue into the “Bright” inside: he identifies with a clearing so wide it embraces every heart imaginable; with the Form underlying the conditional; with the one and indivisible beyond the all-and-All, supreme Being; the God of “presencing” itself. Such excesses would not be possible without presumption, which can (and maybe always do) assume guru-proportions. But however crazy Adi Da may sound, doesn’t he show how presumptuous we all can be? Especially if we take ourselves to be messengers–of Being, Beauty, Bliss, Truth, History, Us, whatever? Isn’t the greatest temptation to say, “I am love”…?

I have not meant to ridicule any of the listeners, only to draw up some affinities and differences. Identifying with the voice, “I am love,” only shows how close one feels to the one who calls. So close that we can barely refrain from endowing that caller with being. So close that we fall into that being and feel merged with endless love in responding to the call by sounding love’s claims. I don’t want to discount this experience; I know it is part of the phenomenon of resonating with the other–is its resonance. I only want to follow Lyotard’s analysis (in Heidegger and ‘the jews’) and stake out another claim: that by endowing the other with being, as much as by letting ourselves think that we have actually heard anything, that there is “good news” to shout, we cannot help but slip into a betrayal of listening. That would be the sum temptation: to forget that something remains unheard in hearing. To honor this fact–remembering that one always forgets that nothing is heard–would be just listening.

Back when I was first writing about these questions, I dreamed of a text that would not say anything, but that would be “listening” itself. It would insinuate itself into the reader’s being so deeply as to utterly undo it, to make it hear all the “deeper calls” of itself. It would introduce into the soul a movement of pure diremption, cutting itself off from itself, from every source of being, while calling it back to presence as that which was purely outside of itself. It would achieve a state of resonance with the question of the other (of “alterity”) and would “be” nothing but its call–a kind of written listening meant to simmer in what calls to it listen before writing, with its back to all writing. A just summons, before anyone took the stand.

Perhaps what I have learned since then is that this desire to write listening betrays its law. It has to admitted that it cannot be written. Otherwise, it couldn’t be written. Because it is not just something that cannot be represented here; it is just listening, which procures for itself no resources over time, does not once encode itself in rhyme, it does not reason. And it does not predicate, it does not inscribe anything in memory.

As writing, it is interminable; listening never comes through. As listening, it is instant; writing doesn’t do. It is not there. It waits.  And so it remains: just listening.

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Beginnings began begun

Some recent readings have led me to some thoughts about “beginning.” The first comes from an untranslated lecture given by Peter Sloterdijk, Zur Welt Kommen – Zur Sprache Kommen (Coming to the World – Coming to Language). My German is not good enough to read it with much accuracy, but here is my rough translation of an early, key passage:

An author, I said, begins with himself, in that he exposes himself; but he is only able to expose himself because he has already been exposed.

The verb “expose” is used here to translate sich aussetzen, also “to set out,” meaning that we could also translate the passage like this:

An author, I said, begins with himself, in that he sets out; but he is only capable of setting out because he has already set out.

Sloterdijk then continues:

If we wanted to go in search of an absolute beginning, we would lose ourselves in that groundless movement the logician knows as infinite regress. To deduce a first, spontaneous beginning would be as difficult a task as asking the devil to spin a solid rope out of sand. Not only that, it would also be a superfluous requirement. It is enough for an author, as for the rest of those who exist, to step into his or her on-going beginning, so as to catch up with his or her on-going existence… For us, the real beginning is never there except as in the results of already-being-started.

I would like to pair this passage with some remarks recently given by Jacques Rancière at a conference in Dublin titled, “The Pedagogics of Unlearning”:

There is no adequate guide because there is no right point of departure and no right order. The whole is everywhere… The book that is in your hands is a whole from which you can discover your own capacity of making an infinite number of connections, hence your capacity of making links and making wholes in general. (18:25)

Let me sum up the early portion of Rancière’s talk, in anticipation of applying it to this question of beginning. He starts with two remarks by Jean Cocteau: 1) “Everything is in everything” and 2) “Learn something and relate everything else to it,” in accordance with the principle that all intelligences are equal. First, “everything is in everything” is lodged against the idea that there are some who see the connections of the whole and others who do not, i.e., the principle of inequality between intelligences, where those who are supposed incapable of “seeing the whole” must bind themselves to superiors who do. Second, “learn something” is opposed to “learn such and such a thing”: the one says that “from anywhere you can go anywhere,” that what matters is that something be learned, less than “what” or in what order; the other says there is a definite starting point and a definite order of progression in the things to be learned, again presupposing a privileged position that would know beforehand not only all the connections of the whole but also all the steps the “ignoramus” must take in order to gain that knowledge. It implies that there is a tried-and-true method that the beginner must take in order to rise above beginner status; and it implies that there is a knowledge of the whole that can only be attained through this method. For Rancière, this well-accepted notion of pedagogy embodies inequality, whereas the “learn something” aims at the emancipation of all intelligences as equal. (Listen to the rest of the talk for all the nuances here.)

Now, what I want to suggest is that we have all, to some extent, internalized the drama–and with it all the fear and doubt–that Rancière is describing. We imagine that we have to know beforehand where to start and where we need to end up; but since we don’t know this, we feel dependent on something or someone external to tell us where to start and where to head. We wait forever for the “go ahead,” we never feel adequate in relation to the possible knowledge of the “whole.” For example, someone who has not studied philosophy compares herself to those who have and thinks, “Well, this is impossible, I will never catch up!” This comparison is the “opinion of inequality” in action. We find ourselves saying, “I’ll never get there,” as if the point were to reach the same place as others, as if the goal were to be on an equal level with them in terms of “knowledge”–as if our intelligences weren’t already equal! We find ourselves saying, “I don’t know where to start,” as if it were possible to know “where” or “how” to start–save by starting somewhere.

This “I don’t know” is tied to another uncertainty: “I don’t know what’s being asked of me,” or even, “I don’t know what I want from myself.” Again the beginning is paralyzed because we think we must know this beforehand. We remain dependent on something else to give us guidelines, reasons, and criteria for beginning. And so we alienate ourselves from both the end and the beginning, the purpose and the way, because we do not believe we have it in us to make a “correct start.” And so we never do, but only get dejected, distracted, and disappointed in ourselves.

Extending Rancière’s comments on Cocteau’s motto of “learn something,” we should at least affirm that (1) there is no correct place to start (all beginnings can give equal access to the whole) and (2) there is no correct goal to aim for (no “knowledge of the whole” is given beforehand to attain; the point is to realize ones own capacity to make connections and wholes). But, in addition to this advice (start anywhere, there is no “starting point,” all starting points are equal, etc.), we must add Sloterdijk’s, (3) that you are started. Not just that you “have started” (Angefangenhaben), as if starting were something you did in the past, but that you are started (Angefangensein), that you are starting, presently. Given the way this throws us back on ourselves, on our being-ahead-of-ourselves, we might even say: you start before you started starting; you started starting long before you started to start…

That last sentence sounds strange, and for a reason. We do not easily comprehend or believe in our “being started,” and sometimes we need odd phrases to think through this odd temporality. I titled this piece, “Beginnings began begun,” for this reason: it says that, yes, we start started, and that yes, our starts start started. In Being and Time, Heidegger is forced to devise a long compound word to express this fact: we are always already oriented “toward” our own potentiality-to-be, by the very fact of being-there: Sich-vorweg-im-schon-sein-in-einer-Welt, being-ahead-of-itself­-in-already-being-in-a-world (§41). Because we care about our potentiality (and this care structures our being), long before we “understand” our potentiality we are sich-vorweg, “ahead of ourselves,” projected into possibilities and into the future. We have already left behind countless tracks and traces of our own concern for ourselves and our world, and so for our future, which is then always already coming toward us to meet us. We began begun in the beginning.

Of course, many things make us doubt the validity of the tracks we’ve laid, including the “opinion of inequality” Rancière critiques. They make us doubt whether our starts are real or “false.” Or they distract us from seeing them at all, from keeping in tune with our own care for ourselves, such that we forget how much “on our way” we already are. Then we look for a devil who might turn sand to a solid rope. We look for a “new start,” instead of picking up what’s started.

I write this because of how much time gets wasted waiting to begin, and because of how many potentialities thus go undeveloped. I only want to suggest that we will never know “how” to start and don’t need to, and that therefore we should feel free to start anywhere. But I also want to suggest that, in another sense, we always “know” how to start, because “the beginning itself began begun.” Down to our very ontological ground, I’m tempted to say, we are our beginning, our being-begun. We do not come with pre-fabricated ends and purposes, with a horizon of usefulness and knowledge to attain; and long before we are this or that thing, this or that person with this or that quality, attribute, or skill, we are (the) beginning (of) ourselves. This beginning is not “owned by” or “owed to” any cause but our own potential-to-be. Being the beginning of ourselves ourselves, we are the end and purpose to start, and we are already “being” that start. And because every beginning begins equally with that cause long begun, perhaps we ought to see everything we do, every activity undertaken, every word spoken, as such a beginning, as a repetition of ourselves as beginningalong a long trail of beginnings long begun.

Perhaps “ethics” is to hold to that beginning that we are, that potentiality-to-be, and to reach for it as to reach for our very selves, for our very being-in-the-world. Because in truth, where are we if not there in what we started? And where else will we ever be, but there, at the start–the started start, the future that we are, the future that we always will have been?

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Gespräche

There is no image [Bild] of deconstruction, no more than there’s a unity or a “one” to it.

Deconstruction is the impossible: that which arrives to us, but without arriving, that which is only ‘there’ in arriving, which cannot have taken place yet, however tied to the immemorial it is or seems. And so is justice: the future without prevision, previsibility, or foresight. Differance like the beat of time, of the present absent with itself, of thinking death, a work of mourning, anxious gladness, writing. But the question is alive in that joy also, the joy of listening, of being in what is coming: where we are situated with respect to it [ce qui arrive comme impossible], with the other that comes, inside and out. What will it have us say?

A side cannot be chosen, but the division (inside-outside, me-other) is still there. It is the hit and resonance, the wall crumbling while moving elsewhere, while we also move elsewhere along the wall. Le phantôm du mur est toujours là. The ghost of the wall is always there. “Berlin is the temple of this metaphor.” (Vive le phantôm, wrote Derrida, long live ghosts.)

The power of deconstruction is a kind of energy that puts us in harmony with [nous accordons]… [unclear]…

Deconstruction in der Welt, the Raum of Literature. Think only of Albertine disparue by Marcel Proust; he writes that he dies then (emphasis) when Albertine disappears, but he writes this in the “I.” Who is it—Proust, the narrator, Cixous, you, me? When did “she” disappear—was she still on stage, could I still hear her? When was the world I shared with her gained, when lost? And how often? What slips away in the instant is the truth we share, I with her and she with I, we with us, on a path of infinite flight away and towards, neither and both; I only share it in the instant, when it comes. (Love: the melody of memory put down.)

(Later, Cixous speaks touchingly about her mother (I understood neither her French nor the translated German through this part: my account relies on the account of friends), her mother who had said, “all writers die young,” and that she was the only one left. She and her daughter, Helene, exchanged letters until she was 101, and she lived to be 104.)

If we ask about death, it’s about the impossible: you can’t wait for it, you can only wait for it, it never comes. Though we think we see it happen to others, we never see it; either that, or it only ever happens to others, including myself, which means I never get to see what would be most proper to me. But this “we never see it” is right there on the face, like the visibility of the invisible, the “exposition of a soul.” “We never see it”: not the words either, not even these glances we exchange.

It’s a question of what comes in not coming [ankommt was nicht kommen an]. We still exchange glances, their letters, ours. Deconstruction as a factor for undoing or un-ordering: of welcoming disturbance, estrangement [dérange bienvenue]. —A prior(i) hospitality, where the other [autrui] is anterior to me, incessantly antagonistic to the relation I entertain with “myself” (another call from Levinas): inseparable from the question of language and relation, right there in movement, it is “as” energy—as a welcoming of what can never be seen before it comes—as passion.

Deconstruction, simply: the other who speaks in me [l’autre qui parle en moi]. Come, then, let him speak.

*

After the event, I found myself (where “spaced” I had wandered) in line for her to sign books. As I didn’t have one of hers with me, I showed her a passage from Nancy’s newest, L’Autre Portrait, which I had just discovered that afternoon: une mêmeté essentielle de ce autre que je reconnais comme “lui-même” [an essential sameness of this other I recognize as “himself”]. She read it and asked, “You want me to sign Nancy’s book?” Pressed, no doubt—was this the moment to defend love? the same love she’d just proved to me?—I said, “We are only absences… we only have absences to say and share with each other… so…”

What could I say about our departure, when the meeting had already been that? She looked at me and I looked at her. I was grateful, she smiled, nodded perhaps. For a flash, it seemed like I saw her, the face of another. A face on fire, eyes deep as a trinity. A look of graciousness, hope, and forgiveness. The face of a thinker, of a saint, and to her, what else, a writer.

Waiting for the U, I remembered to look. She’d dedicated it: “une autre, Hélène Cixous.”

*

Either she or some fellow sitting a row or two behind me said: ich kenne mich nicht: I don’t know myself.

“Don’t know myself”: that’s what I can’t pretend to be able to do, that’s what I can’t stop pretending isn’t true. That’s what I keep saying outloud, and writing, but that’s what’s true for everyone. That’s what we don’t want to know anything about– that about ourselves, we know nothing– not “this”: which comes without coming about, that, in the instant, is neither now nor then, but pure passage [différance].

My hospitality to the other in me is hostile (“I resist change,” I don’t listen to myself), but I can’t decide if that other is inside or out, or whether I myself am outside or in. I can’t, must not figure out: who welcomes whom? And yet not only must I welcome. The welcome shapes my own figure, my own life, my own text. I was welcomed before I could.

We are the surprise of each other in the welcome, the surprise of self caught in common with all then, lacking all “properness” and place. We are together the derangement. Et elle fait toujours autre chose que le même. Nicht mit Absicht philosophische. Wir wissen nicht was das Ich ist. Aber: l’idée de ma mort m’oblige à penser à l’identité de moi. [And it is always something other than the Same. Without philosophical intention. We don’t know what the I is. And yet: the idea of my death makes me think about the identity of me.]

*

To imagine the worst, one must see it, find it in oneself. The mission of the theater is to portray this worse (“portrait” it?), without making a character out of the criminal. To show the worse in the everyman, the every-me, in every discourse: derangement.

The theater takes place in a hole in the wall, and the wall is there. L’étrange in mir nous étrange.

*

Hélène said: spiritual practice [Übung]: accepter de déranger [accept and take on the derangement]. Respect what has not come yet, beyond whatever evidence never comes.

No, it is not natural, it is not proper to anyone. It can in no way be said to have begun, because it’s what we always start with: a look, at ourselves, at another.

Life’s thought in a death’s sentence, shredded by the distance that renders it, while we share it: infinite passion.

 

 

(To write, love, to work, the hardest approach: letting a “not” be, without destroying it, understanding it without understanding it. Writing as a permanent philosophical mediation: to love a subject that does not rest, that does not remain. Writing, that is finally: prayer.)

 

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Resistance of Poetry

Resistance of Poetry
by Jean-Luc Nancy

If we understand, if in one way or another we reach a threshold of sense, it happens poetically. This doesn’t mean that poetry constitutes some type of means or medium of access. It means – and this is almost the opposite – that just this access defines poetry, and that it only takes place when it takes place.

This is why the word “poetry” can designate a type of discourse, one genre among the arts, or a quality that presents itself outside of this type or genre, and may very well be absent from works of this type or genre. According to Littré, the word taken in an absolute sense means: “Qualities that characterize good verse, which can be found outside of verse. […] Poetic brilliance and richness, even in prose. Plato is full of poetry.” Poetry is therefore the indeterminate unity of a set of qualities that are not restricted to a type of composition named “poetry,” and which can only be designated by attributing the adjective “poetic” to terms such as richness, brilliance, boldness, color, depth, etc.

Littré also says, in a figurative sense, “everything that elevates and touches in a work of art, in the character or beauty of a person, and even in a natural production, is called poetry.” When one takes leave of its literary use, this word takes on a figurative sense; nonetheless, this sense is but the extension of an absolute sense, that is, of this indeterminate unity of qualities whose general characteristics are given by the terms “elevated” and “touching.” Poetry as such is therefore always properly identical to itself, from a piece of verse to a natural thing, and at the same time, it is always only a figure of this propriety, which cannot be assigned any proper, properly proper sense. “Poetry” is not exactly a sense, but rather the sense of access to a sense that is each time absent, and transferred ever further. The sense of “poetry” is a sense always to be made.

In essence, poetry is something more and something other than poetry itself. Or rather: poetry itself might be found better where there isn’t any poetry at all. It might even be the contrary or the refusal of poetry, and of all poetry. Poetry does not coincide with itself: perhaps this non-coincidence, this substantial impropriety, makes it, properly, poetry.

Poetry will therefore be what it is only insofar as it’s capable of negating itself: of renouncing, denying, or doing away with itself. In negating itself, poetry prevents the access to sense from being confounded with any mode of expression or figuration whatsoever. It denies that what is “elevated” could be placed in our hands, and that what is “touching” could ever get rid of the reserve from out of which, precisely, it touches.

Poetry is therefore the negativity wherein access becomes what it is: that which must give way, and so is initially evasive, refused. Access is difficult, but this is not an accidental quality, and it means that difficulty makes access. Difficult is what does not let itself be done, and this is properly what makes poetry. It makes difficult. Because it does so, it seems easy, and this is why, for a long time now, poetry has been called a “slight thing.” And this is not only how it seems. Poetry makes the difficult, the absolutely difficult easy. In facility, difficulty cedes. But this doesn’t mean that it can be made easier. It means that it is posed and presented for what it is, and that we are engaged in it. Suddenly, easily, we are in access, that is, in absolute difficulty, “elevated” and “touching.”

We can see here the difference between poetry’s negativity and that of its twin, dialectic discourse. The latter puts to work, identically, the refusal of access as the truth of access. But in doing so, it makes up a problem to be resolved and a task whose infinite character engenders both an extreme difficulty and the promise, always present and always regulative, of a resolution,  and consequently an extreme facility. Poetry, for its part, is not into problems: it makes difficult.

(This difference, nevertheless, cannot be resolved by the distinction between poetry and philosophy, because poetry cannot let itself be limited to a genre of discourse and because “Plato” can be “full of poetry.” Philosophy versus poetry does not constitute an opposition. Each makes the other difficult. Together, they are difficulty as such: the making of sense.)

It follows that poetry is also negativity in the sense that it denies, in the access to sense, whatever would determine this access as a passage, a way, or a path, and it affirms itself as a presence, an invasion. More than an access to sense, it is an access of sense. Suddenly (easily), being or truth, heart or reason, cede their sense, and difficulty is there, strikingly.

 

In a correlated way, poetry denies that any access could be determined as one among others, or one relative to others. Philosophy admits that poetry is another path (and sometimes, religion). Thus, Descartes can write: “There are seeds of truth in us: philosophers extract them through reason, poets uproot them through imagination, and thus they shine with a greater brilliance” (recited from memory). Poetry admits of no reciprocity. It affirms an access that is absolute and exclusive, immediately present, concrete, and as such inexchangeable. (Not being on the order of problems, there’s no longer a diversity of solutions.)

It affirms access, therefore, not according to the regime of precision – susceptible to more and less, to infinite approximation and tiny adjustments –, but to that of exactitude. It is finished, complete: the infinite is actual.

In this way, the history of poetry is the history of a persistent refusal to let poetry be identified with any genre or poetic mode – not, however, so as to invent one more precise than the others, and not even to dissolve them into prose as though into their truth, but so as to determine, incessantly, another new exactitude. It is always newly necessary, for the infinite is actual an infinite number of times. Poetry is the praxis of the eternal return of the same: the same difficulty, difficulty itself.

In this sense, the “infinite poetry” of the Romantics is a presentation that’s just as determined as Mallarme’s chiseling, Pound’s opus incertum, or Bataille’s hatred of poetry. This does not mean that these presentations are all the same, or that they’re only figurations of one unique, unfigurable Poesy, and that, because of this, all the battles between “genres,” “schools” or “thoughts” of poetry would be unfounded. It means that there are only such differences: access is made, each time, only once, and it is always to be remade, not because it’s imperfect, but on the contrary, because it is, when it is (when it yields), each time perfect. Eternal return and the sharing of voices.

Poetry teaches nothing other than this perfection.

To that extent, poetic negativity is also a position rigorously determined by the unity and the unicity that is unique to access, its absolutely simple truth: the poem, or the line. (We could also call it: strophe, stanza, phrase, word, song.)

The poem or the line, it’s all one: the poem is a whole whose every part is a poem, that is to say, a finished “making,” and the line is a part of a whole that is still a line, that is to say, a turning, an overturning, or a reversal of sense.

The poem or the line designates the elocutive unity of an exactitude. This elocution is intransitive: it doesn’t refer to sense as a content, and it doesn’t communicate one, but makes it, being exactly and literally the truth.

It pronounces, thus, nothing but what makes up the office of language, at once its structure and its responsibility: to articulate sense, it being understood that there is only sense in an articulation. But poetry articulates the sense, exactly, absolutely (not an approximation, image, or evocation).

That articulation is not uniquely verbal, and that language infinitely surpasses language, is another affair – or rather, it’s the same thing: “everything that is elevated and touching” is called “poetry.” In language or elsewhere, poetry does not produce significations; it makes an objective, concrete, and exactly determined identity between the “elevated” and the “touching” and a thing.

Exactitude is integral completion: ex-actum, this is made, this is acted upon up to the end. Poetry is the integral action of a disposition to sense. Every time it takes place, it’s an exaction of sense. Exaction is the action that demands something due, and then one that demands more than what is due. What’s demanded by speech is sense. But sense is more than anything that could be due. Sense is not a debt, it’s not required, and one can do without it. One can live without poetry. One can always ask, “What good are poets”? Sense is extra, an excess: the excess of being over being itself. It’s a matter of acceding to this excess, yielding to it.

This is also why “poetry” says more than what “poetry” means. And more precisely – or better yet, exactly: “poetry” says the more-than-saying as such, says so insofar as it structures speech. “Poetry” says the saying-more of a more-than-saying. And it also says, consequently, the no-longer-saying-it. But saying this. To sing also, then, to stamp it out, to intone it, to beat or pound it out.

The particular semantics of the word “poetry,” its perpetual exaction and exaggeration, its way of saying-beyond-speech, is congenital to it. Plato (him again, the greatest challenger of poetry) points out that poesis is a word in which one takes the whole for the part: the whole of productive action is in the solely metrical production of scanned speech. The latter exhausts the essence and the excellence of the former. Everything made is concentrated in the making of the poem, as if the poem made everything that could be made. Littré (him again, poet of the ode to the Enlightenment) records this concentration: “poem… from poiein, to do: the thing made (par excellence).”

Why would poetry be the excellence of the made thing? Because nothing can be more complete than the access to sense. It is entirely, if it is, an absolute exactitude, or else it is not (not even approximately). When it is, it’s perfect, and more than perfect. When access takes place, one knows that it has always been there, and that likewise it will always return (even if you, yourself, know nothing about it: but one has to believe that in each instant someone, somewhere, accedes). The poem draws access from an immemorial seniority, which has nothing to do with the remembrance of an ideal, but which is the exact, actual existence of infinity, its eternal return.

The made thing is finished. Its finishing is the perfect actuality of infinite sense. In this, poetry is represented as being more ancient than every distinction between prose and poetry, between genres or modes of the art of making, that is to say, of art, absolutely. “Poetry” means: the first making, or rather, making insofar as it’s always first, each time original.

What does making do? It poses in being. What’s made exhausts itself in its positioning as in its end. This end it took to be its goal is here its end as its negation, because what’s made undoes itself in its own perfection. But what is undone is identical with what is posited, perfected and more than perfect. Making accomplishes, each time, something and itself. Its end is its finishing: in this, it’s posed infinitely, infinitely beyond its work, each time.

The poem is what’s made by making itself.

This same thing that is abolished and posited is the access to sense. Access is unmade as passage, process, aim and transportation, as approach and approximation. It is positioned as exactitude and disposition, as presentation.

This is why the poem or the line is a sense that is abolished as intention (as wanting-to-say), and posed as finishing: it’s doesn’t revolve around its will, but its phrasing. No longer a problem, but access. Not to be commented upon, but to be recited. It’s not that poetry is written to be learned by heart, but that recitation by heart gives every recited phrase at least an inkling of a poem. Mechanical finishing gives access to the infinity of sense. Here, there is no antinomy between mechanic legality and the legislation of freedom: but the first liberates the second.

Presentation must be made, sense must be made, and perfected. This doesn’t mean: produced, operated, realized, created, acted upon, engendered. To be exact, it has nothing to do with any of this. It is nothing less than what is firstly, in all this, what making wants to say: what making makes in language when it perfects it in its being, which is the access to sense. When it speaks, it’s made, and when it makes, it’s speaking. As when one says: to make love, which is nothing made, but makes an access be. To make or to let be: to pose simply, to depose exactly.

Nothing is made (no art or technique, no gesture, no work) that is not more or less covertly wrought through with this disposition.

Poetry is to make everything speak – and to depose, in return, everything spoken in things, itself being like a thing made and more than perfect.

A recitation from childhood:

Schläft ein Lied in allen Dingen,
die da träumen fort und fort,
und die Welt hebt an zu singen,
triffst du nur das Zauberwort.

[There slumbers a song in all things
As they dream on and on,
And the world commences to sing,
If only you find the magic word.[1]]

This poetic affair, so old and so heavy, cumbersome and sticky, resists most strongly our boredom and our distaste for all poetic lies, for pretentiousness and sublimity. Even if it doesn’t interest us, it brings us to a halt, necessarily. Today just as much as in the time of Horace, Scève, Eichendorff, Eliot or Ponge, although in different ways. And if it was said that after Auschwitz poetry was impossible, and then the opposite, that poetry after Auschwitz was necessary, it is precisely because it appears necessary to say both things about poetry. The exigency of the access of sense – its exaction, its exorbitant demand – cannot cease to bring discourse and history, knowledge and philosophy, action and law, to a halt.

Let no one speak to us about an ethics or aesthetics of poetry. It is well in advance of them, in their immemorial plus-que-parfait, that the making called “poetry” is upheld. It stands crouched like a beast, stretched like a spring, and thus in action, already.

[1] http://books.google.je/books/about/Romantic_poetry.html?id=eSa4fY_LQVYC

[This is a translation of Jean-Luc Nancy, Résistance de la Poésie, Bordeaux, William Blake & Co., 1997.]

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Eucharist

Eucharist
by Jean-Luc Nancy

The feminine body is mythical—“admirable body” as in the perfection of the story that is offered to us, the body given, abandoned in such a way that this gift itself comes about as myth (non-“arbitrary” writing) and that, by the same stroke, “passes beyond the mythic and the metaphysical.”

What is meant by this paradox of a myth that goes beyond the mythical? The mythical in association with metaphysics can designate the order of fictional “back-worlds,” to speak like Nietzsche, and therefore is myth in the current sense of a fable.[1] But “the truth of the mythical body” is of a different order. So much so that one will have to renounce the “too facile symbolism” of “pagan Aphrodite.” This epithet gives an indication of the direction that follows this mythic, outra-mythic and spiritual ascension: in an unexpected and even more remarkable way, it is going to culminate in the figure of Christ.

The admirable body of the female abandons itself, “up to the possibility of immediately ceasing to be […] by her own desire.” She can, to her own liking, desire to disappear, desire conforming to the “fragility of the infinitely beautiful, of the infinitely real” (how can we not think of the traditional catholic formulas that speak of an infinitely great, good, and powerful God?). The same infinity renders “uninvolved” its identification with mythological persons, whose figures have been named [in an earlier chapter]. “In every way, […] she belongs to the community.” The return underlined by this term, which gives the theme here, is followed by the motif of foundation: “through her fragility, she makes her inaccessibility sensible, and through her magnificence, that the foreignness of what cannot be common is what founds this community.”

At this decisive point—decisively ultra-dialectical—and before coming to the ultimate identification or (trans)figuration of the female, one final variation is consecrated to man. Blanchot reminds us that he is the one held, “outside the circle of love,”  and therefore the one for whom the feminine abyss represents at once attraction, threat and loss. However, he makes clear that the story does not stop at “these abrupt affirmations” and that, in spite of everything, man enters into this, “surprising relationship […] which shows the indefinable power of the feminine over even that which wants or believes itself to remain foreign to it.” I won’t pause here anymore than before on what concerns man because his role is delimited by what was just been said: he is the homogeneous that shies away from the heterogeneous, while worrying about it nonetheless and relying on it in the end despite himself, “changed more radically than he believes.” And his sickness[2] comes not only from a “lack of love” but “also (or first of all) stirs itself up in she who is there,” and in whom, or through whom life (“existence itself”) is opened to its own abyss.

In other words, at least death will be communicated from one to the other and in both senses. Excessive death of the woman, sickly death of the man, perhaps passing one to the other, double form of incommunication, in excess of or in default on love. Death or dying, in reality or in imagination, as we’ll see.

Right when this “surprising relationship” is affirmed, it is also affirmed that “existence apart from” the woman “has something sacred about it”—“without there being any trace of profanation”: no more than one assists or spectates a rape does it have to do with a sacrifice. This “sacred,” whose excess does not call for transgression and whose access is created through abandon (a consent in which even the idea of a victim disappears), is one in which sacrifice is overcome or relieved in the gift of self. Blanchot writes: “she offers her body, like the eucharistic body was offered through an absolute, immemorial gift.”

It’s a comparison, but it’s a comparison that’s going to be shadowed in such a way that it’s worth assimilation or identification. If Blanchot kept his distance from formal identifications under mythic names, it was to get away from that which harbors the danger of idolatry, and no doubt he is anxious to keep at bay a definite name like “Jesus-Christ.” But at the same time, he proceeds to a sort of incorporation that is even more audacious, because the offering of the “eucharistic” body is not an image here, it is not a representation or a symbol: this body “was offered”—it’s written in the indicative, it’s a reality. Of course not the reality that Christians (and more precisely Catholics) recognize in the story of the Last Supper (which is nothing but the reprisal or sublation of the Pascal meal already twice evoked), but the “immemorial” real, which we know is that of a “transport that overwhelms and disturbs every possibility of remembering it.”[3] Not lived experience (Erlebnis, psychology, sociology…), but an experience the same text authorizes us to call “mystical”—this controversial term with regard to Bataille and in Bataille himself, this term that also comes up in the expression, “mystical body,” through which theology designates the assembly of all, the community in Christ, in other words, the entire unfolding of that for which the eucharist is the founding gesture.

By choosing the word “eucharist”—which in Greek means grateful joy—, Blanchot expresses himself in the most proper sacramental lexicon, and at the same time he avoids using the word “communion,” in its normal catholic usage. We know that this word was set aside early on for a reason that Nancy brought up: its proximity to a fusion similar to that of “one single individual, closed in his immanence.” With the Eucharist and the Last Supper, we return nonetheless to communion, but only by virtue of what one could call an other theology or an other spirituality: of a mystical body that would not be a superior individuality but a plurality in the mysterious unity of a body essentially offered and open, dispersed. One could say: Jesus-Christ en femme, which also implies the woman in Jesus-Christ—woman remaining woman in this transcendental, holy, and “solemn” assumption. Transubstantiated woman, we can say, in reference to the catholic theology of the Eucharist: this offered sensible body possesses mystical reality, the suressential femininity of a subject absent to himself and to the other in his gift, as his gift—his communication.

The christic scene does not stop there. It’s completed with two other episodes, thanks to which we can reconstitute the path of what we call the passion of Christ. The first holds to a single remark: returning to Duras’ story, Blanchot cites the words of the woman that echo the “Take and eat” of the Gospels— “Take me so that it’s done”—, and then he continues: “After that, having consumed everything, she is no longer there.”

Consummatum est: another one of Christ’s words, the last he uttered on the cross. The Latin translates the Greek tetelestai: it has come through to the end, to the goal, it’s finished. Life is at its term, its telos, God’s design is carried out.

Finally the last episode comes in support of “the memory of lost love,” which we can assume is revealed in man. “Just like the disciples at Emmaus: they were only persuaded of the divine presence once it had left them.” The whole cycle of the Passion was traveled: Last Supper, death, resurrection and departure from this world. Thus is fulfilled the work of salutation (salvation) of a god who is abandoned in and to human existence. And woman also “did her work” and “changed” man “more radically than he believes” (by creating a new man, according to the Christian formula?).[4]

The christic equivalence— to remain reticent before the temptation to employ terms like “identification” or “assimilation”—is developed here with a breadth and precision that leave no doubt about its importance. In it comes to be perfected the ensemble of motifs in religious and spiritual resonance that were presented throughout the text. In it takes effect a mythic and mystical force whose form is very recognizable even if it is withdrawn, along with the name, the determination of the figure (which was accorded to Aphrodite). But the absence of the name rightly belongs to the God of Jesus-Christ, inheriting the biblical god or rather, as we have understood it, relieving, if not even preceding it here according to the logic of the immemorial. (Several times in other texts, Blanchot came back to the unnameable name of God.) At the same time, the common name of passion will have discretely but surely guided the insinuating penetration of the evangelical story into Duras’, their conjunction giving shape to Blanchot’s text.

 

Notes:

[This text is my translation of chapter 19 of Nancy’s book, The Disavowed Community, published March 2014, Galilée. It is a work in progress.]

[1] Although it is not about keeping to this current sense in its most heavy-handed value (fairy tales, dupes), one must no less hold on to the fact that nothing makes secondary the fictive character of Duras’ story, and those by Bataille.  In a context where ’68 could have been called a direct, “lived” story, the recourse to fiction is only more eloquent.

[2] Whose name, “may have come from Kierkegaard,” as Blanchot pointed out (ibid., p. 58), which is quite likely indeed and makes a gesture toward the other mention of this name by Blanchot, apropos the “mortal leap.” (Kierkegaard wrote The Sickness unto Death in the sense of “that which leads to death,” borrowing from the Gospel of John, verse 11:4).

[3] This real is also, no doubt about it, that of the “real presence” in the transubstantiation of cash.

[4] How can we not think that Blanchot kept from the catechism of his childhood the formula not long ago well known for designating the sexual relationship: “work of the flesh”?

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