Unreal Nature

May 24, 2015

If Today

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:52 am

… If today the writer, thinking of going down to the underworld, is content with going out into the street, that is because the two rivers, the two great movements of elementary communication, passing through each other, tend to be confused.

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

… doubt belongs to poetic certainty, just as the impossibility of affirming the work brings us close to its own affirmation, one whose care the words “keeping vigil doubting rolling shining and meditating” bring back to our minds.

… Whoever clings to certainty or even to the lower form of probability is not on the way to “the horizon,” any more than is the traveling companion of the musical thought whose five ways of being played are played in the intimacy of chance.

The following is from the last essay in the book, ‘The Power and the Glory’:

… Just as public understanding always has all its understanding beforehand but makes all real comprehension fail, just as public rumor is the absence and emptiness of all clear and decisive language, always saying something other than what is said (hence perpetual and formidable misunderstandings, at which Ionesco lets us laugh), just as the public is the indeterminacy that ruins every group and every class, so the writer, when he succumbs to the fascination of what is at stake by the fact that he “publishes,” seeking the reader in the public, as Orpheus sought Eurydice in the underworld, turns toward a language that will be no one’s and that no one will understand, for it is always addressed to someone else, awakening in the one who receives it always an other and always the expectation of something else. Nothing universal, nothing that makes literature a promethean or divine power, having right over everything, but the movement of a dispossessed and uprooted language, which prefers to say nothing with the claim of saying everything and, each time it says something, only designates the level below which one must still descend if one wants to begin to speak.

… When Orpheus goes down to the underworld in search of the work, he confronts an entirely different Styx: that of nocturnal separation, which he must enchant with a gaze that does not turn it to stone. It is the essential experience, the only one in which he must become wholly involved. Having returned to daylight, his role with regard to external authorities is limited to disappearing, soon to be torn to pieces by their delegates, the Maenads, which the daytime Styx, the river of public rumor in which his body was scattered, carries his lyric work, and not only carries it, but wants to make itself the song in it, to maintain in it its own fluid reality, its infinitely murmuring becoming, foreign to any shore.

If today the writer, thinking of going down to the underworld, is content with going out into the street, that is because the two rivers, the two great movements of elementary communication, passing through each other, tend to be confused.

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

-Julie

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