Unreal Nature

September 20, 2015

Possessed

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:40 am

… the answer regenerates the question, and possession engenders an increasing appetite for the thing possessed. And that is art.

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

… by “poetics” Paul Valéry understands not the exposition of rules concerning the composition of poems or the construction of lines but the study of the mind, insofar as it makes something, to the extent that it expresses itself, in a work and in the creation of this work.

… it is uncertain whether consciousness can itself form an idea of what it is without order and without law, since it is itself in perpetual unbalance and in the constant process of destroying itself in order to reform itself.

That which gives the general problem of the creation of intellectual works an almost insurmountable breadth and complexity is that it calls into question the whole mind; there is at first nothing to see the difference between the “I” that is not given over to any gaze in its pure and simple existence and the “I” that poses as a child of itself in a complete act, that is to say in a work.

[line break added to make this easier to read online] The poverty of a mind that is distanced from any capacity to create is equal to and forms the basis for the richness of the greatest creator; the nudity of awareness, reduced to being nothing but possibility stripped of everything, contains all the abilities that will allow it to realize an incomparable work. And at the same time the artist represents, in relation to the man of practical life and even in relation to the man of objective knowledge, an absolutely original form.

… To a certain extent, the artist can be considered the most utilitarian of persons, for he uses even unusable things; he is the one who uses insignificant perceptions and arbitrary acts to invent, outside of practical interest, a background interest, a secondary necessity. The unique quality of artistic invention is to lend these useless impressions such a value that not only do they become as indispensable as any direct perception, but as they are given to us we feel even more the need to find them again and to enjoy them.

[line break added] That is what Paul Valéry calls the “aesthetic infinite.” Whereas in the world of practical life satisfaction suppresses desire (I am thirsty, I drink; the matter is done with, classified), in the universe of sensibility satisfaction causes need to be reborn indefinitely; the answer regenerates the question, and possession engenders an increasing appetite for the thing possessed. And that is art.

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

-Julie

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