Unreal Nature

January 18, 2015

That Other Time, That Other Voyage

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:44 am

… it seems to take place well before the book begins, but it is such that it also can take place only once, in the future of the work, in the sea that the work will have become …

This is from the essay ‘Encountering the Imaginary’ found in The Book to Come by Maurice Blanchot (1959; 2003):

… Narrative is not the relating of an event but this event itself, the approach of this event, the place where it is called on to unfold, an event still to come, by the magnetic power of which the narrative itself can hope to come true.

That is a very delicate relationship, no doubt a kind of extravagance, but it is the secret law of narrative. Narrative is the movement toward a point — one that is not only unknown, ignored, and foreign, but such that it seems, even before and outside of this movement, to have no kind of reality; yet one that is so imperious that it is from that point alone that the narrative draws its attraction, in such a way that it cannot even “begin” before having reached it; but it is only the narrative and the unforeseeable movement of the narrative that provide the space where the point becomes real, powerful, and alluring.

… It is indeed true that it is only in Melville’s book that Ahab encounters Moby Dick, but it is also true that this encounter alone allows Melville to write the book, such an overwhelming, immoderate, and unique encounter that it goes beyond all the levels in which it occurs, all the moments one wants to place it in; it seems to take place well before the book begins, but it is such that it also can take place only once, in the future of the work, in the sea that the work will have become, a limitless ocean.

Between Ahab and the whale there plays out a drama that could be called metaphysical in a vague sense of the word, the same struggle that is played out between the Sirens and Ulysses. Each of these pairs wants to be everything, wants to be the absolute world, which makes coexistence with the other absolute world impossible; and yet each one has no greater desire than this very coexistence, this encounter. To unite in the same space Ahab and the whale, the Sirens and Ulysses — that is the secret wish that makes Ulysses Homer, makes Ahab Melville, and the world that results from this union the greatest, most terrible, and most beautiful of possible worlds, alas a book, nothing but a book.

… the narrative has that other time, that other voyage, which is the passage from the actual song to the imaginary song, the movement that causes the real song, little by little although right away (and this “little by little although right away” is the very time of metamorphosis), to become imaginary, enigmatic song, which is always far away, and which designates this distance as a space to travel, and the place to which it leads as the point where singing can stop being a lure.

… Always still to come, always already past, always present in a beginning so abrupt that it cuts off your breath, and still unfurling as the return and the eternal new beginning …

-Julie

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