Unreal Nature

October 25, 2015

The Nervous System

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:39 am

… this strange reality that is made up … of the influences that emerge from it, of the nervous system that makes up these influences, of the fields of bizarre forces in which usual human feelings are transformed …

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

He knows very well that by extracting from his novels the abstract flashes of lightning that illuminated them, he has altered their nature. He has made a division that was not his to make. He has divided himself against himself. He has taken sides. From now on, when we hear his characters speak to us what they think is their own truth, it will be impossible for us not to hear the voice of the author asserting with them: “This is true,” sacrificing them at the very instant that he supports them and chasing them from his own mirror.

He delights in thoughts whose simplicity is the height of pride. One feels he has become his own oracle, desirous above all to reign over the violences of his mind. The world in which he is accepts only the presence of the character that he has become.

… [Such writers] are the masters of allegories, and from the words hypocrisy, vanity, happiness, love they draw an abstract tragedy in which they express, without care for verisimilitude, their scorn or their taste for life. Morality becomes a mythology for them, and their imperious way of thinking asserts, with a provocative prejudice, the desire to see only what it has chosen. In these conditions one can say that a novelist is tempted by the pure abstractions of morality to the extent that, incapable of creating real myths, he also can’t content himself with life as psychology forces him to grasp it.

This next is from Blanchot’s essay ‘Criticism of Albert Thibaudet‘:

… he rarely separates the work from the network of outer and inner phenomena of which it is the fruit. In reality the work and the author exist less for him in their separate and almost abstract existence than the whole of literature whose unique life, whose invisible current and indefinite connections he has, with singular profundity, discerned, as if it were a matter of a world apart whose mysterious laws answered wonderfully to its possibilities and its knowledge.

… What he feels and what he describes is literary reality, this strange reality that is made up not only of words, of writers, but of the influences that emerge from it, of the nervous system that makes up these influences, of the fields of bizarre forces in which usual human feelings are transformed and are organized into an entirely new form of duration.

… His art consisted not only of choosing for the reader a privileged theater in which the reader could hope to contemplate many new things but also in giving him, thanks to a constant change of lighting and backdrop, incessantly renewed views of the same spectacle. It seems, when we read him, that all the relationships through which he directs us are the most natural in the world, the most well-known, the most usual. He gives the impression of making us discover everything while himself seeming to discover nothing.

-Julie

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