Unreal Nature

August 16, 2015

Under Eighty Mattresses

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:52 am

… Direct communication of a thought that must not let itself be understood directly is ridiculous.

This is from the essay ‘Kierkegaard’s ‘Journals’ ‘ found in Faux Pas by Maurice Blanchot, translated by Charlotte Mandell (2001):

… he profoundly experienced that every mind needs a mask, that no direct communication is ever valid because the truth of a person itself corresponds to a fundamental ambiguity. On this silence that envelops his entire work, by which it offers itself as an enigma and demands of others that they become enigmas in their turn, one can only recall the words of Chestov that Jean Wahl cites in his remarkable Études kierkegaardiennes [Studies on Kierkegaard]: “Perhaps it is because Kierkegaard (as in the Andersen tale) had hidden his little pea under eighty mattresses that it sprouted and grew to grandiose proportions, not only in the eyes of Kierkegaard, but even in the eyes of his distant descendants. If he has openly shown it to everyone, no one would even have looked at it.”

The following is from ‘On Hindu Thought’ in the same Blanchot collection:

… The danger begins as soon as one is led to believe that an authentic spiritual discipline could be within easy reach. Innocent intelligence is then dispossessed of itself by the act of naive comprehension that thinks it fills it in.

It is impossible to regret adequately the absence of cautions intended to take back from the reader the truths these well-conducted expositions too generously bring him. Direct communication of a thought that must not let itself be understood directly is ridiculous. It is like the preaching of the clergyman of whom Kierkegaard tells and who said, “One should not have disciples”; that was his doctrine; he preached it everywhere, and as he was eloquent, he was followed by many disciples who repeated in their turn, “One should not have disciples.”

[line break added to make this easier to read online] It is the same way each time that discursive reasoning wanders serenely into an order where its only way of reaching a conclusion must be the struggle with contradiction, the infinite contest with itself, the passion of the paradox. It grasps, in peace, like comfortable evidence, the fact that it has been dismissed; it gives this dismissal an interpretation that completely satisfies it; it receives non-knowledge like a knowledge that it formulates in limpid words and on the edge of the abyss takes its charming ease. This trickery casts an invisible shadow on over-obliging books. It is perceived only by those who, when everything is clear, know that they see nothing.

My previous post from Blanchot’s book is here.

-Julie

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