Unreal Nature

February 29, 2012

Crab’s Progress

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 7:42 am

… I am seeking a way, without getting there, to say that there is a speech in which things, not showing themselves, do not hide.

… a turning that, at the moment when it is about to emerge, makes the work pitch strangely.

… so that, outside speech, outside language, the movement of writing may come, under the attraction of the outside.

This is from The Infinite Conversation by Maurice Blanchot (1993; originally published in 1969):

” …

— And yet we do not see everything.

— This is sight’s wisdom, though we never see only one thing, even two or several, but a whole: every view is a general view. It is still true that sight holds us within the limits of a horizon. Perception is a wisdom rooted in the ground and standing fixed in the direction of the opening; it is of the land, in the proper sense of the term: planted in the earth and forming a link between the immobile boundary and the apparently boundless horizon — a firm pact from which comes peace. For sight, speech is war and madness. The terrifying word passes over every limit and even the limitlessness of the whole: it seizes the thing from a direction from which it is not taken, not seen, and will never be seen; it transgresses laws, breaks away from orientation, it disorients.

— There is a facility in this liberty. Language acts as though we were able to see the thing from all sides.

— And then begins perversion. Speech no longer presents itself as speech, but as sight freed from the limitations of sight. Not a way of saying, but a transcendent way of seeing. The ‘idea,’ at first a privileged aspect, becomes the privilege of what remains under a perspective to which it is tributary. The novelist lifts up the rooftops and gives his characters over to a penetrating gaze. His error is to take language as not just another vision, but as an absolute one.

— Do you want us not to speak, as we see?

— I would want, at least, that we not give ourselves in language a view that is surreptitiously corrected, hypocritically extended, deceiving.

— We should choose then: speech, sight. A difficult choice, and perhaps unjust. Why should the thing be separated into the thing seen and the thing said (written)?

— An amalgam, in any case, will not remedy the split. To see, perhaps, is to forget to speak; and to speak is to draw from the depths of speech an inexhaustible forgetfulness. Let me add that we do not await just any language, but the one in which ‘error‘ speaks: the speech of detour.

— An unsettling speech.

— A differing speech, one that carries here and there, itself deferring speech.

— Obscure speech.

— Clear speech, if the word clarity, being the property not of visible but of audible things, does not yet have a relation to light. Clarity is the exigent claim of what makes itself clearly heard in the space of resonance.

— Hardly speech, it discloses nothing.

— Everything in it is disclosed without disclosing anything.

— That is nothing but a formula.

— Yes, and not too sure. I am seeking a way, without getting there, to say that there is a speech in which things, not showing themselves, do not hide. Neither veiled nor unveiled: this is their non-truth.

[ … ]

— So here again is the peculiarity of that turning toward … which is detour. Whoever would advance must turn aside. This makes for a curious kind of crab’s progress. Would it also be the movement of seeking?

— All research is crisis. What is sought is nothing other than the turn of seeking, of research, that occasions this crisis: the critical turn.

— This is hopelessly abstract.

— Why? I would even say that every important literary work is important to the extent that it puts more directly and more purely to work the meaning of this turn; a turning that, at the moment when it is about to emerge, makes the work pitch strangely. This is a work in which worklessness, as its always decentered center, holds sway: the absence of work.

— The absence of work that is the other name for madness.

— The absence of work in which discourse ceases so that, outside speech, outside language, the movement of writing may come, under the attraction of the outside.”

My most recent previous post from Blanchot’s book is here.

-Julie

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